Made in IBM Labs: IBM Lights Up Silicon Chips to Tackle Big Data

       Made in IBM Labs: IBM Lights Up Silicon Chips to Tackle Big Data

-- From the Lab to the Fab: Technology Breakthrough Demonstrates Feasibility
of Silicon Nanophotonics for Chip Manufacturing

-- Light Pulses Can Move Data at Blazing Speeds to Help Solve Bandwidth
Limitations of Servers, Datacenters and Supercomputers

-- After More Than a Decade of Research, Silicon Nanophotonics is Ready for
Development of Commercial Applications

PR Newswire

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Dec. 10, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced
today a major advance in the ability to use light instead of electrical
signals to transmit information for future computing. The breakthrough
technology – called "silicon nanophotonics" – allows the integration of
different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single
silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.


Silicon nanophotonics takes advantage of pulses of light for communication and
provides a super highway for large volumes of data to move at rapid speeds
between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, thus
alleviating the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost
traditional interconnects.

"This technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering
research at IBM," said Dr. John E. Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director
of IBM Research. "This allows us to move silicon nanophotonics technology into
a real-world manufacturing environment that will have impact across a range of

The amount of data being created and transmitted over enterprise networks
continues to grow due to an explosion of new applications and services.
Silicon nanophotonics, now primed for commercial development, can enable the
industry to keep pace with increasing demands in chip performance and
computing power.

Businesses are entering a new era of computing that requires systems to
process and analyze, in real-time, huge volumes of information known as Big
Data. Silicon nanophotonics technology provides answers to Big Data challenges
by seamlessly connecting various parts of large systems, whether few
centimeters or few kilometers apart from each other, and move terabytes of
data via pulses of light through optical fibers.

Building on its initial proof of concept in 2010, IBM has solved the key
challenges of transferring the silicon nanophotonics technology into the
commercial foundry. By adding a few processing modules into a high-performance
90nm CMOS fabrication line, a variety of silicon nanophotonics components such
as wavelength division multiplexers (WDM), modulators, and detectors are
integrated side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry. As a result,
single-chip optical communications transceivers can be manufactured in a
conventional semiconductor foundry, providing significant cost reduction over
traditional approaches.

IBM's CMOS nanophotonics technology demonstrates transceivers to exceed the
data rate of 25Gbps per channel. In addition, the technology is capable of
feeding a number of parallel optical data streams into a single fiber by
utilizing compact on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices. The
ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates will allow future
scaling of optical communications capable of delivering terabytes of data
between distant parts of computer systems.

Further details will be presented this week by Dr. Solomon Assefa at the IEEE
International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in the talk titled, "A 90nm CMOS
Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology for 25Gbps WDM Optical Communications
Applications." Additional papers being presented by IBM at IEDM can be seen

Additional information on the project can be found at


Ari Entin
IBM Communications
(408) 927-2272


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