See The World's First Processor That Uses Light For Communications

Posted: Dec 26 2015, 4:03am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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See the World's First Processor that Uses Light for Communications
The electronic-photonic processor chip communicates to the outside world directly using light, illustrated here. The photo shows the packaged microchip under illumination, revealing the chip’s primary features. (Image by Glenn J. Asakawa, University of Colorado)
  • Experts use Processor that employs Light for relaying Signals Very Fast

The experts have used a processor that employs light for relaying signals very fast. They gave a demonstration of the device.

Engineers have combined electrons and protons in a single chip microprocessor. This is a milestone in miniature communication and it marks the passage to extremely fast signals.

Two processors were stuffed with 70 million transistors and 850 photonic components. The chips had a size that was 3X6 mm each. That is extremely small indeed. The processor was manufactured in a foundry where high performance computer chips are normally made.

The design of this component was planned on a scale that was unbelievable. And it could be mass produced which is indeed a boon. This is the next stage in the evolution of fiber optic communication technology.

The integration into a microprocessor of the photonic interconnections responsible for relay was what this venture was all about. It happens to be the very first such processor that can employ light to connect with the outer world. A chip on such a small scale is a marvel to gaze at. And the good thing is that it can run a program.

In comparison with electric wires, fiber optics holds greater scope. Bandwidth can be increased and data can travel at high speeds over greater distances. And less energy is consumed in the process.

The transfer of photonics into fiber optics had been a difficult proposal. But thanks to the advancement of science it is a possibility today. No one had hitherto integrated photonics into the makeup of the microchip processor.

It was an unheard of thought. But the impossible became possible. The functional basis of the chip was perfect as it relayed information from one point to another.

It had a bandwidth density of 300 gigabits. This is ten to fifty times more than the other microprocessors available in the market. The photonic component is very energy-efficient indeed. It uses 1.3 picojoules.

“This is a milestone. It’s the first processor that can use light to communicate with the external world,” said Vladimir Stojanović, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the development of the chip.

“No other processor has the photonic I/O in the chip.”

Stojanović and fellow UC Berkeley professor Krste Asanović teamed up with Rajeev Ram at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Miloš Popović at the University of Colorado Boulder to develop the new microprocessor.

“This is the first time we’ve put a system together at such scale, and have it actually do something useful, like run a program,” said Asanović, who helped develop the free and open architecture called RISC-V (reduced instruction set computer), used by the processor.

In the experiment that got carried out, the info was relayed 10 meters to and from a source. The beautiful thing is that using the same amount of power the data can be sent a few centimeters, a few meters or many kilometers.

The choice rests with the experimenter alone. The bandwidth revolution is not to be underestimated. This sort of technology is also very clean and will help in the planning of a lean and green future that is pollution-free to boot.

The new chip is described in a paper published on Dec. 24 in the print issue of the journal Nature.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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