BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Today’s world is about being fast, because after all time is money so a team of engineers created first photonic microprocessor which will make data travel faster.
People want their devices to do as many things as possible as fast as possible and very often even at the same time. Although our devices are indeed very powerful and are based on advanced technologies, they do have their limits. This is exactly why engineers are looking to expand the possibilities of these machines and take their limits further.
Also don’t forget, good things come in small packages so they made a 3-by-6-millimeter chip which contains two processor cores that have 850 photonic components and 70 million transistors. So that’s probably the definition of ‘small’.
But besides being small, what is even more impressive about this chip is that it uses light for communication, which is something that has never been done before.
Fiber optics can support a greater bandwidth than electrical wires and can carry a lot more data faster and further and using less energy. We do use already fiber optics in communication technologies and it has definitely improved data transfers but putting them in the actual computer chips has proven to be more difficult.
The problem so far was that creating such a chip had to involve a change in the fabrication process which was of course difficult and also very expensive. But now, they did it using the same tools and the same process which means that although this first microprocessor is just a prototype, a mass-production could start anytime.
The chip was also tested by running various computer programs on it. Compared to electrical-only chips on the market, the new chip has a bandwidth density of 300 GB/second/square millimeter which makes it 10 to 50 times greater.
The chip’s photonic I/O consumes only 1.3 watts to transmit a terabit per second. The creation of this chip comes just in time after the climate change talks in Paris, because it is a great alternative that will save a lot of electricity, making data centers more environmentally friendly. For example, in 2013, data centers consumed over 90 billion kilowatt-hours which is about 2 percent of the total electrical power used in the U.S.
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