Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > IBM Researchers Develop World’s Tiniest Nanophotonic Switch to route optical data between cores in future computer chips

Abstract:
Nanophotonic switch device for routing light on a chip scale

IBM Researchers Develop World’s Tiniest Nanophotonic Switch to route optical data between cores in future computer chips

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY | Posted on March 17th, 2008

IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists today took another significant advance towards sending information inside a computer chip by using light pulses instead of electrons by building the world's tiniest nanophotonic switch with a footprint about 100X smaller than the cross section of a human hair.

The switch is an important building block to control the flow of information inside future chips and can significantly speed up the chip performance while using much less energy.

Today's announcement is a continuation of a series of IBM developments towards an on-chip optical network:

* In November 2005, IBM scientists demonstrated a silicon nanophotonic device that can significantly slow down and actively control the speed of light.

* In December 2006 an analogous tiny silicon device was used to demonstrate buffering of over a byte of information encoded in optical pulses a requirement for building optical buffers for on-chip optical networks.

* In December 2007, IBM scientists announced the development of an ultra-compact silicon electro-optic modulator, which performs the job of converting electrical signals into the light pulses, a prerequisite for enabling on-chip optical communications.

"This new development is a critical addition in the quest to build an on-chip optical network," - said Yurii Vlasov, manager of silicon nanophotonics at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center. "In view of all the progress that this field has seen for the last few years it looks that our vision for on-chip optical networks is becoming more and more realistic".

Today's announcement is another significant advance in their quest to develop next generation high-performance multi-core computer chips which transmit information internally using pulses of light traveling through silicon instead of electrical signals on copper wires.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, IBM unveils the development of a silicon broadband optical switch, another key component required to enable on-chip optical interconnects. Once the electrical signals have been converted into pulses of light, this switching device performs the key role of "directing traffic" within the network, ensuring that optical messages from one processor core can efficiently get to any of the other cores on the chip.

The IBM team demonstrated that their switch has several critical characteristics which make it ideally suited to on-chip applications. First, the switch is extremely compact. As many as 2000 would fit side-by-side in an area of one square millimeter, easily meeting integration requirements for future multi-core processors.

Second, the device is able to route a huge amount of data since many different wavelengths or "colors" of light can be switched simultaneously. With each wavelength carrying data at up to 40 Gb/s, it is possible to switch an aggregate bandwidth exceeding 1 Tb/s -- a requirement for routing large messages between distant cores. Last but not least, IBM scientists showed for the first time that their optical switch is capable of operating within a realistic on-chip environment, where the temperature of the chip itself can change dramatically in the vicinity of "hot-spots," which move around depending upon the way the processors are functioning at any given moment. The IBM scientists believe this temperature-drift tolerant operation to be one of the most critical requirements for on-chip optical networks.

An important trend in the microelectronics industry is to increase the parallelism in computation by multi-threading, by building large scale multi-chip systems and, more recently, by increasing the number of cores on a single chip. For example the IBM Cell processor which powers Sony's PlayStation 3 gaming console consists of nine "brains," or cores, on a single chip. As users continue to demand greater computing performance, chip designers plan to increase this number to tens or even hundreds of cores.

This approach, however, only makes sense if each core can receive and transmit large messages from all other cores on the chip simultaneously. The individual cores located on today's multi-core microprocessors communicate with one another over millions of tiny copper wires. However, this copper wiring would simply use up too much power and be incapable of transmitting the enormous amount of information required to enable massively multi-core processors.

IBM researches are exploring an alternative solution to this problem by connecting cores using pulses of light in an on-chip optical network based on silicon nanophotonic integrated circuits. Like a long-haul fiber-optic network, such an extremely miniature on-chip network will transmit, receive, and route messages between individual cores that are encoded as a pulses of light. It is envisioned that using light instead of wires, as much as 100 times more information can be sent between cores, while using 10 times less power and consequently generating less heat.

The report on this work, entitled "High-throughput silicon nanophotonic wavelength-insensitive switch for on-chip optical networks" by Yurii Vlasov, William M. J. Green, and Fengnian Xia of IBM's T.J.WatsonResearchCenter in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. is published in the April 2008 issue of the journal Nature Photonics. This work was partially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Defense Sciences Office program "Slowing, Storing and Processing Light".
Additional information on this development as well as on the IBM's nanophotonics project can be found at the website www.research.ibm.com/photonics.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Loughran
IBM Media Relations
914-945-1613

Copyright © IBM

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

News and information

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Chip Technology

Fundamental observation of spin-controlled electrical conduction in metals: Ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy yields direct insight into the building block of modern magnetic memories July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 23, 2015 July 2nd, 2015

The quantum middle man July 2nd, 2015

Optical computing/ Photonic computing

Opening a new route to photonics Berkeley lab researchers find way to control light in densely packed nanowaveguides June 27th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Model, Design Optical Switches June 13th, 2015

Rice researchers make ultrasensitive conductivity measurements: Photonic platform could provide 'optical signatures' for molecular electronics June 10th, 2015

Investigation of Optical Properties of Quantum Dots in Presence of Magnetic, Electrical Fields June 10th, 2015

Announcements

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Tel Aviv/Tsinghua University project uses crowd computing to improve water filtration: The research, a product of the new TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, was conducted by 150,000 volunteers at IBM's World Community Grid July 6th, 2015

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover July 6th, 2015

A Stretchy Mesh Heater for Sore Muscles July 6th, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Surfing a wake of light: Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time July 6th, 2015

Pioneering Southampton scientist awarded prestigious physics medal July 3rd, 2015

Making new materials with micro-explosions: ANU media release: Scientists have made exotic new materials by creating laser-induced micro-explosions in silicon, the common computer chip material June 29th, 2015

Opening a new route to photonics Berkeley lab researchers find way to control light in densely packed nanowaveguides June 27th, 2015

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