Ultrafast supercomputers that operate at speeds 100 times faster than current systems may now be one step closer to reality.
A team of IBM researchers working on a DARPA-funded program has found a way to transmit massive amounts of data with unprecedented low power consumption, increasing the speed by 66 percent and shattering the previous power efficiency record by one-half.
Scientists predict that the supercomputers of the future — so-called exascale computers — will enable them to model the global climate, run molecular-level simulations of entire cells, design nanostructures and much more.
"We envision machines reaching the exascale mark around 2020, but a great deal of research must be done to make this possible," said Jonathan E. Proesel, a research staff member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center.
To achieve this feat, researchers must find a way to quickly move large amounts of data within the supercomputer while simultaneously keeping power consumption in check.
Proesel and colleagues created an optical communication link operating at 25 Gb/s using 24 mW of total wall-plug power, or 1 pJ/bit. The link combines circuits in IBM’s 32-nm silicon-on-insulator CMOS technology with advanced VCSELs and photodetectors fabricated by Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations USA (formerly Emcore).
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