“Provides enormous cost-benefits and advantage over traditional photonic systems”
A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore’s Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.
The research team, led by CU-Boulder researcher Milos Popovic, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, developed a new technique that allows microprocessors to use light, instead of electrical wires, to communicate with transistors on a single chip, a system that could lead to extremely energy-efficient computing and a continued skyrocketing of computing speed into the future.
Popovic and his colleagues created two different optical modulators—structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves—that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today’s state-of-the-art electronic microprocessors. The modulators are described in a recent issue of the journal Optics Letters.
First laid out in 1965, Moore’s Law predicted that the size of the transistors used in microprocessors could be shrunk by half about every two years for the same production cost, allowing twice as many transistors to be placed on the same-sized silicon chip. The net effect would be a doubling of computing speed every couple of years.
The projection has held true until relatively recently. While transistors continue to get smaller, halving their size today no longer leads to a doubling of computing speed. That’s because the limiting factor in microelectronics is now the power that’s needed to keep the microprocessors running. The vast amount of electricity required to flip on and off tiny, densely packed transistors causes excessive heat buildup.
“The transistors will keep shrinking and they’ll be able to continue giving you more and more computing performance,” Popovic said. “But in order to be able to actually take advantage of that you need to enable energy-efficient communication links.”
Microelectronics also are limited by the fact that placing electrical wires that carry data too closely together can result in “cross talk” between the wires.
In the last half-dozen years, microprocessor manufacturers, such as Intel, have been able to continue increasing computing speed by packing more than one microprocessor into a single chip to create multiple “cores.” But that technique is limited by the amount of communication that then becomes necessary between the microprocessors, which also requires hefty electricity consumption.
Using light waves instead of electrical wires for microprocessor communication functions could eliminate the limitations now faced by conventional microprocessors and extend Moore’s Law into the future, Popovic said.
Optical communication circuits, known as photonics, have two main advantages over communication that relies on conventional wires: Using light has the potential to be brutally energy efficient, and a single fiber-optic strand can carry a thousand different wavelengths of light at the same time, allowing for multiple communications to be carried simultaneously in a small space and eliminating cross talk.
Optical communication is already the foundation of the Internet and the majority of phone lines. But to make optical communication an economically viable option for microprocessors, the photonics technology has to be fabricated in the same foundries that are being used to create the microprocessors. Photonics have to be integrated side-by-side with the electronics in order to get buy-in from the microprocessor industry, Popovic said.
“In order to convince the semiconductor industry to incorporate photonics into microelectronics you need to make it so that the billions of dollars of existing infrastructure does not need to be wiped out and redone,” Popovic said.
Last year, Popovic collaborated with scientists at MIT to show, for the first time, that such integration is possible. “We are building photonics inside the exact same process that they build microelectronics in,” Popovic said. “We use this fabrication process and instead of making just electrical circuits, we make photonics next to the electrical circuits so they can talk to each other.”
In two papers published last month in Optics Letters with CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher Jeffrey Shainline as lead author, the research team refined their original photonic-electronic chip further, detailing how the crucial optical modulator, which encodes data on streams of light, could be improved to become more energy efficient. That optical modulator is compatible with a manufacturing process—known as Silicon-on-Insulator Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor, or SOI CMOS—used to create state-of-the-art multicore microprocessors such as the IBM Power7 and Cell, which is used in the Sony PlayStation 3.
The Latest Bing News on:
World Wide Web
- Web’s inventor says news media bargaining code could break the internet. He’s right — but there’s a fixon January 20, 2021 at 6:43 pm
The code could require Google and Facebook to pay up for simply including links to news articles from other sites. This has never been a requirement on the web.
- US, Web Inventor Oppose Australia’s Plan to Make Tech Giants Pay for Contenton January 20, 2021 at 4:14 pm
The government of the United States and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, asked Australia, in separate submissions, to reconsider a proposed bill to make tech giants including ...
- World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says Australia's plan to force Google to pay for news content is 'unworkable' and undermines 'fundamental principle' of the interneton January 20, 2021 at 5:57 am
Canberra is pursuing world-first laws that would require digital giants including Google and Facebook to compensate Australian news organisations ...
- World Wide Web inventor opposes Australia's news payment plan for tech giantson January 19, 2021 at 5:48 pm
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says Australia's plan to force digital giants to pay media outlets for news content is "unworkable" and undermines a "fundamental principle" of the Internet.
- World Wide Web Inventor Opposes Australia's News Payment Planon January 19, 2021 at 3:22 pm
Lee says Australia's plan to force digital giants to pay media outlets for news content is "unworkable" and undermines a "fundamental principle" of the internet. Canberra is pursuing world-first laws ...
- ‘Unworkable around the world’: Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, is the latest internet all-star to slam Australia’s media bargaining codeon January 19, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, told a Senate committee that Australia's proposed media bargaining code risks "breaching a fundamental principle of the web".
- Australia's proposed media code could break the world wide web, says the man who invented iton January 19, 2021 at 8:46 am
Lee says the plan to make Google and Facebook pay for news content undermines the web’s ‘fundamental principle’ ...
- He created the web. Now he’s out to remake the digital world.on January 16, 2021 at 9:32 am
Lee devised simple yet powerful standards for locating, linking and presenting multimedia documents online. He set them free into the world, unleashing the World Wide Web.
- World Wide Web's father wants to remake cyberspace all over againon January 12, 2021 at 4:47 am
This new, updated web will enable the kind of person-to-person sharing and collaboration that has helped make the big social media services so successful while leaving the user in control." ...
- Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, CNN's Christiane Amanpour and World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee join Reuters Nexton January 7, 2021 at 8:21 am
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and CTO of Inrupt, were today announced as ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
World Wide Web
The Latest Bing News on:
- New Yorker Electronics Releases Industry’s First 4-Qadrant Silicon PIN Photodiode in SMD Packageon January 21, 2021 at 9:16 am
Quadrant Silicon PIN Photodiode Delivers Excellent Signal-to-Noise Ratio with Virtually No Tolerance Between Segments ...
- Viz.ai's Viz RECRUIT Software Enables Faster Medical Researchon January 21, 2021 at 5:15 am
Viz.ai has announced the launch of Viz RECRUIT, cutting edge software that uses artificial intelligence to accelerate clinical studies. Viz RECRUIT uses AI to automatically detect a suspected disease ...
- New Yorker Electronics Releases Expanded VPG C4A Series Stress Analysis Strain Gage Sensorson January 21, 2021 at 12:06 am
New Yorker Electronics has announced the release of the newly expanded C4A Series Stress Analysis Strain Gage Sensors from Micro-Measurements, ...
- Insights on the Global Electronics And Electrical Ceramics Market 2021-2025 | COVID-19 Industry Planning Structure | Technavioon January 20, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Electronics and Electrical Ceramics Market by Application, Product, and Geography - Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025 is now available at Technavio ...
- Club of one: China’s economy grew faster than expected in 2020on January 20, 2021 at 1:39 am
While much of the world struggles with the resurgent coronavirus, and the economic pain it is bringing, China has recorded a positive growth rate for 2020, likely making it the only large economy to ...
- Hidden Costs In Faster, Low-Power AI Systemson January 20, 2021 at 12:19 am
Tradeoffs in AI/ML designs can affect everything from aging to reliability, but not always in predictable ways.
- Wilson Electronics Announces Sleek Residential Cell Booster Optimized for Smaller Living Spaces – the weBoost Home Studioon January 19, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Wilson Electronics, the industry leader in cellular signal booster technology, today announced the launch of the weBoost Home Studio, a sleek, compact and consumer-friendly indoor cell signal booster ...
- Samsung unveils new 870 EVO SSD with faster performanceon January 19, 2021 at 9:01 am
The 2.5-inch SATA solid-state drive aims for a speeder ride than its predecessor and offers storage options from 250GB to 4TB.
- Global Wearable Electronics Market 2020-2024 to Post a Progressing CAGR of 15% | Technavioon January 18, 2021 at 12:52 pm
Technavio has been monitoring the wearable electronics market and it is poised to grow by USD 41.24 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 15% during the forecast period. The report offers ...
- Nanosheet-based electronics could be one drop awayon January 12, 2021 at 6:23 am
A surprisingly simple method improves 'drop casting' fabrication of tiled nanosheets that could be used in next-generation electronic devices. All you need is a pipette and a hotplate.