Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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

3-D-printed jars in ball-milling experiments June 29th, 2017

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions June 28th, 2017

NMRC, University of Nottingham chooses the Quorum Q150 coater for its reliable and reproducible film thickness when coating samples with iridium June 27th, 2017

Picosun’s ALD solutions enable novel high-speed memories June 27th, 2017

Chip Technology

Nanometrics to Participate in the 9th Annual CEO Investor Summit 2017: Accredited investor and publishing research analyst event held concurrently with SEMICON West and Intersolar 2017 in San Francisco June 27th, 2017

New TriboLab CMP Provides Cost-Effective Characterization of Chemical Mechanical Wafer Polishing Processes: Bruker Updates Industry-Standard CP-4 Platform for Most Flexible and Reliable Testing June 27th, 2017

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

Optical computing/Photonic computing

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Learning with light: New system allows optical “deep learning”: Neural networks could be implemented more quickly using new photonic technology June 12th, 2017

Researchers find new way to control light with electric fields May 25th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Announcements

3-D-printed jars in ball-milling experiments June 29th, 2017

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions June 28th, 2017

NMRC, University of Nottingham chooses the Quorum Q150 coater for its reliable and reproducible film thickness when coating samples with iridium June 27th, 2017

Picosun’s ALD solutions enable novel high-speed memories June 27th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

New carbon nitride material coupled with ruthenium enhances visible-light CO2 reduction in water June 15th, 2017

Changing the color of laser light on the femtosecond time scale: How BiCoO3 achieves second harmonic generation June 14th, 2017

Learning with light: New system allows optical “deep learning”: Neural networks could be implemented more quickly using new photonic technology June 12th, 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