IBM In Hybrid Chip Breakthrough - InformationWeek

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IBM In Hybrid Chip Breakthrough

Technology could lead to exaflop computing—systems that can perform one million trillion calculations per second.

IBM unveiled new microprocessor technology that combines optical and electrical components on a single piece of silicon, paving the way for exascale computers that could be up to 1,000 times faster than current systems.

IBM's CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics technology lets chips within a system communicate through pulses of light. The technology could be the foundation for computers that are faster, smaller, and more energy efficiency than anything currently available, according to IBM.

"Our CMOS Integrated Nanophotonics breakthrough promises unprecendented increases in silicon chip function and performance via ubiquitous low-power optical communications between racks, modules, chips or even within a single chip itself," said Yuri Vlasov, manager of IBM's Silicon Nanophotonics department, in a statement.

"The next step in this advancement is to establish manufacturability of this process in a commercial foundry using IBM deeply scaled CMOS processes," said Vlasov. IBM said its new chip technology offers unprecedented levels of density, as it's ten times smaller than the current state of the art.

Big Blue's ultimate goal for the material is the production of commercial systems that can perform at the exaflop level—one million trillion calculations per second.

"The development of the Silicon Nanophotonics technology brings the vision of on-chip optical interconnections much closer to reality," said T.C. Chen, vice president for Science and Technology at IBM Research.

"With optical communications embedded in the processor chips, the prospect of building power-efficient computer systems with performance at the exaflop level is one step closer," said Chen. IBM shares were up 1.65%, to $143.79, in morning trading Wednesday.

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