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IBM Hardware

IBM Creates Commercially Viable, Electronic-Photonic Integrated Chip 71

An anonymous reader writes "After more than a decade of research, and a proof of concept in 2010, IBM Research has finally cracked silicon nanophotonics (or CMOS-integrated nanophotonics, CINP, to give its full name). IBM has become the first company to integrate electrical and optical components on the same chip, using a standard 90nm semiconductor process. These integrated, monolithic chips will allow for cheap chip-to-chip and computer-to-computer interconnects that are thousands of times faster than current state-of-the-art copper and optical networks. Where current interconnects are generally measured in gigabits per second, IBM's new chip is already capable of shuttling data around at terabits per second, and should scale to peta- and exabit speeds."
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IBM Creates Commercially Viable, Electronic-Photonic Integrated Chip

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  • OpSIS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth Snowshoe ( 1434515 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:11PM (#42242897)

    http://opsisfoundry.org/ [opsisfoundry.org]

    OpSIS is a foundry service for integrated photonics/CMOS electronics, similar to MOSIS for CMOS. Academic and research institutions can get small lots of experimental designs built as part of a multi-chip wafer run. They support libraries of standard and example components, some modelling and rules decks. They plan several fab runs a year, and access, last time I checked, three different processes from different vendors. Carver Mead is a booster.

    I had hoped to start designing with their rules a while ago, and got pulled into more immediate projects. I still think it's pretty cool, and would like to get back to it if ever I get a quiet moment.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:26PM (#42243653) Homepage Journal

    You've got to remember that all those rules are easily dismissed by converse. There's always a trade-off, you can make something faster but it becomes hotter, or more expensive, or less durable... lies. You can demonstratably make something expensive, slow, high-power, and low-durability by extremely inefficient process.

    In economics people like to discuss job creators and wealth movement, trickle-up and trickle-down, the loss of businesses, poor people and rich people... but they fail to understand wealth. Take the "shop locally" thing... if you have a local bookstore versus Amazon, people tell you to shop locally because it "keeps the money in the community." Problem is the local bookstore is crap, they order from the big publishers and distributors, etc; some folks argue Walmart or B&N are as bad as Amazon and not like a local bookstore, but their stores still pay local taxes on their income, they still pay rent, hire sales people, and order from the same distributors.

    Now let's say you order from Amazon because it's $10 cheaper. That money leaves the local community, but $10 stays ... you're $10 wealthier. The local bookstore has terrible selection and is expensive... it goes out of business. Meanwhile you've got a local farmer's market and you shop there with the extra $10 you have. That's wealth creation: you have the same goods (a book) plus more money ($10) to buy other goods (fresh food). If this is the general trend, the Farmer's Market garners that much more business, expands, and replaces the local book shop's place in the community--the community demand for a farmer's market was higher than a local bookstore, the community is now wealthier.

    The same principle applies to the manufacture of goods. If you're doing something sloppy, develop a refinement. We didn't get to 3GHz CPUs by overclocking a 486 by 100 times and slapping on a big fan and heat sink; we streamlined the process to be 100 times more efficient, then paid the extra expense to downsize the process, took a smaller efficiency hit, jacked up the CPU speed, and added a big fan. Truth be told, we could run these things at half the speed and find that they last forever, they're a lot faster than the old 486, and they need all of a tiny little heat sink and maybe a fan (maybe not). Instead of building 32nm, we could continue to build 60nm and not pay the expense--but the 60nm equipment has gotten better and we get fewer bad chips and fewer defects and so much longer component life. We're there, we just threw more chips in 'cause we had 'em.

    Essentially, we got faster, cheaper, and lower power, all at once. Then, we cranked up the speed, put more dollars into cutting-edge technology, and things became faster, hotter, and more expensive. We've gained wealth, though--we've gained it and we've spent it to get even more speed. We had all of speed, power consumption, and cost, and we paid the cost and power consumption gains back in and opted for even more speed. In the end, though, the output's still bigger than our original input.

    We violated the silly "can't have everything" law every step of the way.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."