At the 2007 Optical Fiber Conference, IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists will reveal
a prototype optical transceiver chipset capable of reaching speeds at least
eight times faster than optical components available today. According to IBM
scientists, the transceiver will reduce the download time for a typical high
definition feature-length film to a single second compared to 30 minutes or
The ability to move information at speeds of 160 Gigabits is expected to
transform the way how downloads are done today.
"The explosion in the amount of data being transferred, when downloading
movies, TV shows, music or photos, is creating demand for greater bandwidth and
higher speeds in connectivity," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science
& Technology, IBM Research. "Greater use of optical communications is
needed to address this issue. We believe our optical transceiver technology may
provide the answer."
As the amount of data transmitted over networks continues to grow,
researchers have been looking for ways to make the use of optical signals more
practical. The ability to use these signals could offer previously unheard of
amounts of bandwidth and enhanced signal fidelity compared to current electrical
data links. By shrinking and integrating the components into one package, and
building them with standard low-cost, high-volume chip manufacturing techniques,
IBM is making optical connectivity viable for widespread use.
The technology could be integrated onto printed circuit boards to allow the
components within an electronic system such as a PC or set top box.
To achieve this new level of integration in the chipset, IBM researchers
built an optical transceiver with driver and receiver integrated circuits in
current CMOS technology, the same standard, high-volume, low-cost technology
used for most chips today. They then coupled it with other necessary optical
components made in more exotic materials, such as indium phosphide (InP) and
gallium arsenide (GaAs), into one, integrated package only 3.25 by 5.25
millimeters in size.
This compact design provides both a high number of communications channels as
well as very high speeds per channel, resulting in an amount of information
transmitted per unit area of card space taken up by the chipset (the ultimate
measure of viability for practical use) that is the highest ever. This
transceiver chipset is designed to enable low cost optics by attaching to an
optical printed circuit board employing densely spaced polymer waveguide
channels using mass assembly processes.
However, it may take a few years before the product is available in the
market for use.
Source: IBM Website.