The Benefits of Silicon Photonics

The Benefits of Silicon Photonics

Photonics-based computing utilizes less energy and can transmit information faster than conventional approaches. Still, the projects have been held back due to the costs of manufacturing silicon integrated circuits with embedded photonic elements.

FREMONT, CA: The world’s appetite for data is increasing exceptionally, driven by applications ranging from social networks and streaming media to genomics-driven medicine and a conception of connected devices within the Internet Of Things. The growth in mobile computing is massive. According to the United Nations telecommunications agency, the number of mobile phone subscriptions was approaching the number of humans on Earth by 2013. On the other hand, Landline telephones, in contrast, have never reached above 25 percent of the global population.

The challenge of this data-intensive world is that in the level of consumer devices also, data rates are starting to rise the capability of conventional interconnect technologies. The central problem is that traditional, electronic data systems need wires to be charged and discharged to send minimum data from point A to point B. Even the microscopic wires found in CPU and RAM chips, this charge-discharge cycle takes energy and time both. Most of the power goes towards communications, and not logic.

Most of these issues would be substantially mitigated if switches and cables were configured to interact utilizing photons rather than electrons. The importance of photonics in computing and communications extends beyond, surpassing new possibilities for processing and logic, as well as some approaches to quantum computing. The other applications lie shortly, but photonic interconnects are available today and has advantages like scalability, parallelism, capacity, longer ink-lengths, and speed. The consumer applications also benefit from it. The Optical HDMI cables can support high frame rates for displays 4000 or 8000 pixels in width over commercial useful cable lengths, and optical USB and Thunderbolt implementations are rising for data rates of 40 Gbps and upward.

The production process of these photonic devices is not an easy task. Connecting a wire to a contact pad on a chip demands aligning the components within tens of micrometers of the correct position, connecting an optical fiber to a photonic chip might need three orders of magnitude with more precision. With the help of ingenious device engineering and few groundbreaking micro-robotic industrial automation technology, the retail market is on their way to overcoming these challenges, bringing high-throughput photonic interconnects into the mainstream.

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