Light-using connectors may make supercomputers as small as a laptop

December 7th, 2007 - 4:32 pm ICT by admin  

London, December 7 (ANI): A research by scientists at IBM has raised hopes for the development of supercomputers as small as a laptop.

The researchers say that the work they have completed may make it possible to do away with the copper wires, which are used to couple processing cores to each other.

The connectors produced by them uses light to pass data between the computational cores. This method is faster and uses less power than the method involving copper wires, say the researchers.

Described in journal Optics Express, the new device is smaller than previously demonstrated connectors that had shown promise to shrink computational clusters in future.

The report suggests that the device, called a silicon Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator, is many times smaller than previously produced convertors.

It is believed that the new device may replace the copper wires that connect cores with a device that converts electrical signals to pulses of light.

“What we have done is a significant step toward building a vastly smaller and more power-efficient way to connect those cores, in a way nobody has done before,” the BBC quoted Dr Tze-chiang Chen, a spokesman for IBM’s science and technology research division, as saying.

The researchers say that the new device may boost the power of coupled computational cores, for the speed at which data travels between the cores may be accelerated by using light.

Dr. Will Green, who led the research team, said that the use of light would enable the researchers to cut the amount of power required to move data between processors, and slash the amount of heat that a large computational cluster produces.

The researcher has revealed the technology is about 100 times faster than wires, consumes one-tenth as much power, and can be used to transfer data up to a distance of a few centimetres.

Dr. Green believes that the lower power requirement may help reduce operational costs for supercomputers.

The technology has so far been demonstrated in a lab, and the researchers admit that it may take years before it makes its way into commercial chips. (ANI)

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