IBM researchers have developed the world's tiniest switch to rout optical data between computer chip cores in an energy efficient way.
The system uses light pulses instead of electrons, with a footprint about 100x smaller than the cross section of a human hair.
The switching technology can significantly speed up chip performance while using much less energy, said IBM.
In December 2007, IBM scientists announced the development of an ultra-compact silicon electro-optic modulator, which performs the job of converting electrical signals into the light pulses, a prerequisite for enabling on-chip optical communications.
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"In view of all the progress that this field has seen for the last few years, it looks like our vision for on-chip optical networks is becoming more and more realistic."