Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > Optoelectronics/Displays

Researchers tout Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator

Posted: 10 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator? multiprocessing chips? optical routing networks?

IBM researchers have described a Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator that will pave the way for multiprocessing chips with optical routing networks for the transmission of information. They claim that the chip, which is built in silicon, is 100 to 1,000 times smaller in size compared to previously demonstrated modulators of its kind.

The Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator, described by IBM researchers in the journal Optics Express, performs the function of converting electrical signals into pulses of light, IBM said. However, IBM did not indicate how soon on-chip optical communication might be deployed in commercial chips. The reduced size supports reduced cost, energy and heat while increasing communications bandwidth between the cores more than a hundredfold over wired chips, IBM said. The report, entitled "Ultra-compact, low RF power, 10Gbit/s silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator" by William Green, Michael Rooks, Lidija Sekaric and Yurii Vlasov of IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, is published in Volume 15 of Optics Express.

"Work is underway within IBM and in the industry to pack many more computing cores on a single chip, but today's on-chip communications technology would overheat and be far too slow to handle that increase in workload," said T.C. Chen, VP of science and technology at IBM Research, in a statement. "What we have done is a significant step toward building a vastly smaller and more power-efficient way to connect those cores, in a way nobody has done before."

IBM's Cell processor contains nine cores on a single chip. The optically-based transmission technology aims to enable a power-efficient method to connect hundreds or thousands of cores together on a chip. Using light instead of wires to send information between the cores can be as much as 100 times faster and use 10 times less power than wires, IBM said. "We believe this is a major advancement in the field of on-chip silicon nanophotonics," said Will Green, the lead IBM scientist on the project, in the same statement. "Just as fiber optic networks have enabled the rapid expansion of the Internet by enabling users to exchange huge amounts of data from anywhere in the world, IBM's technology is bringing similar capabilities to the computer chip."

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

Article Comments - Researchers tout Mach-Zehnder electr...
*? You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

Back to Top