IBM Creates A New Technology For Faster Supercomputers
Up to the present IBM has made about 200 of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, and the company is now focusing its efforts on developing the technology. The performance of microprocessors increases in geometrical progression from year to year, though when it comes to putting together tens of thousands of them to create a supercomputer or a big data center, this doesn’t mean proportionally higher speeds. A system of this size can only move as fast as the slowest of its components and the main bottleneck here is the speed at which data can be sent across the different processors. The existing copper interconnects are limited in bandwidth and are expensive as compared to their performance. IBM decided to address the issue by promoting a new technology, silicon nanophotonics, aimed at increasing the throughput of data communication between chips by switching from copper to optical signaling. As a result of their work IBM researchers have recently managed to shrink optical components to fit alongside their electrical counterparts on a single chip. IBM has demonstrated optical transceivers exceeding 25 Gbit/s per channel, and showed that multiplexers embedded in the chip can feed parallel streams of optical data into a single fiber to reach much higher speeds. This progress is of a significant importance for the future of optical communications; faster supercomputers will help scientists and engineers to advance in a wide scope of disciplines, such as aerodynamics, cosmology and neuroscience.