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Breakthrough in Optical Interconnects for Computers

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:43AM

Power consumption is a big deal in electronics, and, believe it or not, but a lot of energy is used just transmitting data along interconnects between chips. To cut power usage, some have been looking for ways to replace the electrical interconnects with optical ones. Now researchers at Stanford University have made this idea more practical with an inverse design algorithm.

Most likely, the optical interconnects that would be used in computers would be made of silicon, which is transparent to infrared light like glass is to visible light. What has been holding back the deployment of these interconnects has been the need to design each connection individually. By developing an inverse design algorithm, the Stanford researchers may have solved that problem. This algorithm will allow someone to plug in the properties they want and get a producible design out.

The researchers have already demonstrated the algorithm by designing optical circuits and building them in their lab, which bodes well for adoption at commercial fabricators. From this tool we could see an interesting, new generation of electronics that could be far more efficient than modern computers, and potentially also transmit more information at the same time, as chip-scale optical links can carry 20 times the data.

Source: Stanford University

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