The high demand for speed and volume limits traditional microprocessor chips that use electrical circuits to communicate and transfer information. That could be about to change as researchers work on a chip that uses light instead.
The light-based technology, known as photonics, reduces the energy used in a microchip because light can travel over longer distances using the same amount of power, according to a report in The Economic Times. The new chips have the potential to create faster and more powerful computing systems.
The new microchip has a bandwidth density of 300 gigabits per second per square millimeter, which is at least 10 times greater than current electric microchips. It also incorporates the optical input/output components of current state-of-the-art electronic circuitry, creating an integrated, single-chip design.
“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 Milos Popovic, assistant professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.