IBM Unveils New Chip; Heats Up Supercomputer Battle

IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) unveiled a new technology that uses pulses of light instead of electrical signals to transfer data between chips that will bolster its plans to create an Exaflop supercomputer, capable of one million trillion calculations per second.

Recently crowned fastest supercomputer in the world, the Chinese Tianhe-1A, clocks in at 2.57 petaflops. A petaflop is equivalent to thousand trillion operations per second.

The new chip technology evolved by IBM is called CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics. The new technology integrates optical and electrical devices on the same silicon chip, thus translating electric signals into photons, thus speeding communication between chips, which is faster than transferring data through embedded copper wires.

The major issue that slowed optical communication was the delay caused in converting electrical signals into optical signals. So putting both optical and electrical devices on the same chip means the signals can be converted faster. http://img.ibtimes.com/www/site/us/images/1px.gif

Dr. T.C. Chen, Vice President, Science and Technology, IBM Research, said, "With optical communications embedded into the processor chips, the prospect of building power-efficient computer systems with performance at the Exaflop level is one step closer to reality."

In the breakthrough technology, IBM uses the standard CMOS -- complementary metal oxide semiconductor -- chip manufacturing technique. Thus, by adding  "a few more processing modules to a standard CMOS fabrication flow" IBM is able to integrate optical devices such as modulators, germanium photodetectors and ultra-compact wavelength-division multiplexers with analog and digital CMOS chips.

The integrated chip can now be crafted in a standard CMOS foundry rather than developing CMOS chip and the optical chip separately and then assembling them together. Embedding optical communication devices on the chip reduces the power consumption.

Also, IBM has been able to plant both optical and electrical devices with a single transreceiver in a space that is 10 times smaller than achieved by others. It has further plans to create single chip transreceivers with a capacity to transfer over one terabits per second on a space of four millimeters square.

The new development also reveals as to why IBM has not joined others in using GPU as accelerators, as used by Tianhe-1A. IBM is pitching hopes in its new technology to generate speed using optical transfer of data.

The development of the technology has taken IBM a decade and was unveiled at a conference on semiconductors in Tokyo.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

The Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2010, at 4:32 PM, jsmay37 wrote:

    It is impossible for me to wrap my mind around a million trillion calculations per second but I can wrap my mind around the fact that this will widen IBM's moat and help their bottom line.

Add your comment.

DocumentId: 1387548, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 4/18/2014 5:06:23 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 7 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
NASD 4,095.52 0.00 0.00%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

4/17/2014 4:02 PM
IBM $190.01 Down -6.39 -3.25%
International Busi… CAPS Rating: ****

Advertisement