IBM Nanophotonics breakthrough will help advance big data

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IBM (NYSE: IBM) Research has announced a major advance this week in the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information.  

Using silicon nanophotonics--which allows for the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip--researchers were able to reach sub-100nm semiconductor technology for the first time. For the big data future, this will lead to movement of large volumes of data at rapid speeds between computer chips in servers, large data centers and supercomputers.

IBM said the pulses of light on a chip provide a super highway for data. In a statement, John Kelly, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, said the technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM. He added that it will help the company to move silicon nanophotonics technology into a real-world manufacturing environment, which will have impact across a range of applications.

One such application is big data, where silicon nanophotonics technology could provide answers to big data challenges by connecting various parts of large systems, and move terabytes of data via pulses of light through optical fibers.

The company said it has solved some of the key challenges from its initial concepts of 2010, for transferring the silicon nanophotonics technology into the commercial foundry. The ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates will allow for future scaling of optical communications that are capable of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems, IBM said.

An IDC study this week said the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes by 2020. IBM's silicon nanophotonics technology should help companies move all that data around—and then some.

For more:
- see IBM Research's announcement

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