IBM prototypes 1-Tbps optical receiver chip

IBM is ready to present details of a prototype chipset it claims is the first parallel optical receiver capable of transferring one terabit of information per second.
The firm claims the Holey Optochip can transfer data eight times faster than current parallel optical components, which is says could revolutionize the way information is accessed, shared and utilized. IBM scientists are set to report details of the chip to the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles today.
IBM researcher Clint Schow, who manned the team that developed the prototype, says the firm aims to commercialize the technology within a decade, and that achieving one trillion bits per second is the latest milestone in the firm’s bid to “develop chip-scale transceivers that can handle the volume of traffic in the era of big data.” The firm achieved the data rate by “actively pursuing higher levels of integration, power efficiency and performance for all the optical components through packaging and circuit innovations,” he adds.

Holey Optochip offers raw speed equivalent to the bandwidth currently consumed by 100,000 users on 10-Mbps internet connections, the firm states. It has achieved those rates by fabricating 48 holes through a standard silicon CMOS chip, which allow optical access through the back of the chip to 24-receiver and 24-transmitter channels. IBM constructed its prototype using commercially available components, in a bid to show it can achieve the necessary economies of scale to be a commercial success.