IBM Research Unveils Silicon Photonics Chip


(1) Modern wireless technology, whether it be cellular or Wi-Fi, allows a consumer with a smartphone, tablet or laptop to perform multiple useful tasks remotely: from controlling appliances to home security, climate control and lighting. Scientists at IBM have already began to develop systems that will analyze enormous amounts of data, store information in the cloud, and think more like a brain as opposed to like a standard computer.   The systems are being developed using silicon photonics that include:

  • Photonics- includes generation, emission, transmission, amplification, light detection and many more components
  • Silicon- a chemical element that can act as a semiconductor and in appearance has a crystalline, reflective with bluish-tinged faces
  • An Optical Medium- material through which electromagnetic waves propagate (in other words, a form of transmission)

(2) Many electronic manufacturers are actively researching silicon photonics to provide faster data transfer both between and within microchips by using optical interconnects. However, optical interconnect technology requires using pre-packaged transceivers that are larger and expensive which can limit their large-scale use. IBM and a few other parties instead proposed an integration scheme in which “the silicon photonic chips are treated similarly to ordinary silicon processor chips and are directly attached to the processor package without pre-assembling them into standard transceiver housings. This improves the performance and power efficiency of the optical interconnects while reducing the cost of assembly” according to the OFC report.

Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research said that “just as fiber optics revolutionized the telecommunications industry by speeding up the flow of data — bringing enormous benefits to consumers — we’re excited about the potential of replacing electric signals with pulses of light. This technology is designed to make future computing systems faster and more energy efficient, while enabling customers to capture insights from Big Data in real time.”

(3) Media, Technology and Telecommunication sectors, Entrepreneurs, Consumers

(4) Research has demonstrated what may be an important step toward commercializing this next generation of computing technology. They established a method to integrate silicon photonic chips with the processor in the same package, avoiding the need for transceiver assemblies.

This new technique has been presented at this year’s OFC Conference and Exposition and should lower the cost, increase the performance and size of future data centers, super computers and cloud systems while making them more energy efficient.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s