Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Computing at Light Speed

Via sciencemag.org -

Researchers at Intel have created the fastest-ever silicon-based optical modulator, a device that chops a laser beam into a series of pulses, creating the optical version of digital 1s and 0s. By the middle of the next decade, the new device could help designers create computers in which optical links connect dozens of chips, raising the machines' capabilities to dizzying new heights.

Many computers sold today already sport two or more central processors linked by copper wires that allow them to communicate electronically. Chip companies envision computers with tens to hundreds of processors working side by side. But copper wires can't handle all the electrical signals needed for such an architecture. Optical connections that transmit digital 1s and 0s as streams of light pulses can carry many times the load.

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