IBM ‘silicon nanophotonics’ breakthrough integrates optical and electrical circuits
IBM News Room - 2012-12-10 Made in IBM Labs: IBM Lights Up Silicon Chips to Tackle Big Data - United States
Light pulses can move data at blazing speeds to help solve bandwidth limitations of servers, datacenters and supercomputers
IBM announced today a major advance in the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information for future computing. The breakthrough technology - called “silicon nanophotonics” - allows the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.An IBM 90nm Silicon Integrated Nanophotonics technology is capable of integrating a photodetector (red feature on the left side of the cube) and modulator (blue feature on the right side) fabricated side-by-side with silicon transistors ( red sparks on the far right).
Silicon Nanophotonics circuits and silicon transistors are interconnected with nine levels of yellow metal wires.
Silicon nanophotonics takes advantage of pulses of light for communication and provides a super highway for large volumes of data to move at rapid speeds between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, thus alleviating the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects.
“This technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM,” said Dr. John E. Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research. “This allows us to move silicon nanophotonics technology into a real-world manufacturing environment that will have impact across a range of applications.”
The amount of data being created and transmitted over enterprise networks continues to grow due to an explosion of new applications and services. Silicon nanophotonics, now primed for commercial development, can enable the industry to keep pace with increasing demands in chip performance and computing power.