Supercomputers could some day think as fast as human brain

December 2nd, 2010 - 2:05 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 2 (ANI): Researcher at IBM’s silicon integrated nanophotonics group at Yorktown Heights, in New York, unveiled a new type of computer chip that integrates both electrical and optical nano-devices on the same piece of silicon.

This could soon make it possible for supercomputers to perform one million trillion calculations - or an exaflop - in a single second.

These computers, for the first time, would have the same processing power as the human brain.

IBM has developed a range of tiny photonic switches, waveguides, detectors and modulators, all of which are made out of silicon, reports New Scientist.

And now for the first time these have been integrated into chips, so that the same silicon that makes up the electrical circuitry and transistors of the chip is also used to convey and convert photons, and channel them off the chip through thousands of waveguides, each just 500 nanometres wide.

The technology - called CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics - can transmit terabits per second of data from a single processing core. And since these photonic devices are made out of silicon they can be made using the same fabrication processes used to make the transistors.

Switching to silicon nanophotonics could greatly improve the speed and power consumption of computer chips, says Hiroshi Mizuta, head of the University of Southampton’s Nano Research Group in the UK.

The nanotechnology will also allow the optical and electrical components to be integrated into an area occupying ten times less silicon than conventional components, said William Green.

In future, the technology could also find its way into high performance games consoles, to increase the flow of data between graphics cards and processors. (ANI)

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