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IBM Combines Electrics, Optics On Same Chip

IBM says the technology will enable smaller, faster and more efficient processors on the path to exascale computing.

The new technology, called CMOS integrated silicon nanophotonics, was developed by IBM's Research Labs and have already achieved a 10x denser integration structure than today's chips, according to IBM. The company said that a single transceiver channel with all accompanying optical and electrical circuitry occupies about 0.5 mm2. The technology would allow single-chip transceivers with area sizes as small as 4x4 mm2, which, however, are cable of transmitting more than 1 Tb/s of data.

“Our CMOS Integrated Nanophotonics breakthrough promises unprecedented 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 Yurii Vlasov, Manager of the Silicon Nanophotonics Department at IBM Research. “The next step in this advancement is to establishing manufacturability of this process in a commercial foundry using IBM deeply scaled CMOS processes.”

The company claims that the chips can be produced on a standard CMOS processing line without the need for special tooling. There was no information if and when the technology will be put into production.