Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have made huge strides forward in the development of a technology that will allow microprocessors to use light instead of electricity to transfer data. The key progress made by the researchers is that the they are able to integrate the light-based circuitry on a regular microprocessor, combining electricity and light. Mark Wade, co-lead author of the study, explains that the ability to use the same materials and processing steps that are required to build electrical circuits can also be used to build photonic circuits. This will allow for a smoother transition of the technology in commercial production.
"Light based integrated circuits could lead to radical changes in computing and network chip architecture in applications ranging from smartphones to supercomputers to large data centers, something computer architects have already begun work on in anticipation of the arrival of this technology," said Miloš Popović, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering and a co-corresponding author of the study.
The chip has a bandwidth density of 300 gb/s/mm² which is 10 to 50 times greater than the current electrical-only processors on the market. It will be interesting to see where this technology pops up first. Check out the full press release at colorado.edu.