Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New IBM Research Technology Could Enable Today's Massive Supercomputers to Be Tomorrow's Tiny Computer Chips

Abstract:
Advancement in Using Light Instead of Wires for Building Supercomputers-on-a-Chip

New IBM Research Technology Could Enable Today's Massive Supercomputers to Be Tomorrow's Tiny Computer Chips

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY | Posted on December 6th, 2007

Supercomputers that consist of thousands of individual processor "brains" connected by miles of copper wires could one day fit into a laptop PC, thanks in part to a breakthrough by IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists announced today.

And while today's supercomputers can use the equivalent energy required to power hundreds of homes, these future tiny supercomputers-on-a-chip would expend the energy of a light bulb.

In a paper published in the journal Optics Express, the IBM researchers detailed a significant milestone in the quest to send information between multiple cores -- or "brains" -- on a chip using pulses of light through silicon, instead of electrical signals on wires.

The breakthrough -- known in the industry as a silicon Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator -- performs the function of converting electrical signals into pulses of light. The IBM modulator is 100 to 1,000 times smaller in size compared to previously demonstrated modulators of its kind, paving the way for many such devices and eventually complete optical routing networks to be integrated onto a single chip. This could significantly reduce cost, energy and heat while increasing communications bandwidth between the cores more than a hundred times over wired chips.

"Work is underway within IBM and in the industry to pack many more computing cores on a single chip, but today's on-chip communications technology would overheat and be far too slow to handle that increase in workload," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science and Technology, IBM Research. "What we have done is a significant step toward building a vastly smaller and more power-efficient way to connect those cores, in a way that nobody has done before."

Today, one of the most advanced chips in the world -- IBM's Cell processor which powers the Sony Playstation 3 -- contains nine cores on a single chip. The new technology aims to enable a power-efficient method to connect hundreds or thousands of cores together on a tiny chip by eliminating the wires required to connect them. Using light instead of wires to send information between the cores can be 100 times faster and use 10 times less power than wires.

"We believe this is a major advancement in the field of on-chip silicon nanophotonics," said Dr. Will Green, the lead IBM scientist on the project. "Just like fiber optic networks have enabled the rapid expansion of the Internet by enabling users to exchange huge amounts of data from anywhere in the world, IBM's technology is bringing similar capabilities to the computer chip."

IBM's optical modulator performs the function of converting a digital electrical signal carried on a wire, into a series of light pulses, carried on a silicon nanophotonic waveguide. First, an input laser beam is delivered to the optical modulator, which acts as a very fast "shutter" which controls whether the input laser is blocked or transmitted to the output waveguide. When a digital electrical pulse arrives from a computer core to the modulator, a short pulse of light is allowed to pass through at the optical output. In this way, the device "modulates" the intensity of the input laser beam, and the modulator converts a stream of digital bits ("1"s and "0"s) from electrical signals into light pulses.

The report on this work, entitled "Ultra-compact, low RF power, 10 Gb/s silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator" by William M. J. Green, Michael J. Rooks, Lidija Sekaric, and Yurii A. Vlasov of IBM's T.J.Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. is published in Volume 15 of the journal Optics Express. This work was partially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Defense Sciences Office program "Slowing, Storing and Processing Light."

####

About IBM
Today's announcement by IBM bookends a decade of innovation from IBM Labs that has transformed the IT industry with new materials and design architectures to build smaller, more powerful and energy-efficient chips.

IBM's pioneering work to move the industry from aluminum to copper wiring, unveiled in 1997, gave the industry an immediate 35 percent reduction in electron flow resistance and a 15 percent boost in chip performance.

Since then, IBM scientists have continued to drive performance improvements to continue the path of Moore's Law. And in 2007 alone, IBM announced:

High-k metal gates (January 2007) - A solution to one of the industry's most vexing problems -- transistors that leak current. By using new materials IBM will create chips with "high-k metal gates" that will enable products with better performance that are both smaller and more power efficient.

eDRAM (February 2007) - By replacing SRAM with an innovative new type of speedy DRAM on a microprocessor chip, IBM will be able to more than triple the amount of embedded memory and boost performance significantly.

3-D Chip Stacking (April 2007) - IBM announces the creation of three-dimensional chips using "through-silicon vias," allowing semiconductors to be stacked vertically instead of being placed near each other horizontally. This cuts the length of critical circuit pathways by up to 1,000 times.

Airgap (May 2007) - Using a "self assembly" nanotechnology IBM has created a vacuum between the miles of wire inside a Power Architecture microprocessor reducing unwanted capacitance and improving both performance and power efficiency.

Broadcast quality images and animations are available for download at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/ibm or viewed at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8BsfKxV2k

For more information about IBM Research and its Silicon Photonics project, visit: http://www.ibm.com/research or http://www.research.ibm.com/photonics

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Loughran
IBM Corporation
914.945.1613

Copyright © Marketwire

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Chip Technology

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Memory Technology

Investigations of the skyrmion Hall effect reveal surprising results: One step further towards the application of skyrmions in spintronic devices December 28th, 2016

New material with ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism may lead to better computer memory December 21st, 2016

Characterization of magnetic nanovortices simplified December 21st, 2016

New technology of ultrahigh density optical storage researched at Kazan University: The ever-growing demand for storage devices stimulates scientists to find new ways of improving the performance of existing technologies November 30th, 2016

Optical computing/Photonic computing

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Researcher's discovery of new crystal structure holds promise for optoelectronic devices January 6th, 2017

The researchers created a tiny laser using nanoparticles January 5th, 2017

Diamonds are technologists' best friends: Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University have grown needle- and thread-like diamonds and studied their useful properties December 30th, 2016

Announcements

Strength of hair inspires new materials for body armor January 18th, 2017

Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting January 18th, 2017

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs January 17th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Researcher's discovery of new crystal structure holds promise for optoelectronic devices January 6th, 2017

The researchers created a tiny laser using nanoparticles January 5th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project