back to article IBM dreams of optical chips with tiny light pulse device

White coats at IBM today said they have built the world's teeniest optical switch, measuring 100 times smaller than the cross section of a human hair. Big Blue said its new nanophotonic switch device brings the company another step closer to creating computer chips that use light pulses instead of electrical signals on copper …


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  1. Publicus Creatura


    Nature Photonics? Is that the same publisher as "Glow-in-the-Dark Left Nostril Inhaler Weekly"? (Thanks, George Carlin) Now I have to find it to see what they publish to fill a magazine for over a dozen issues . . . besides this sounding like seriously cool technology.

  2. Troy Shanahan
    Thumb Up


    Sorry, but that 'actual size' image made me laugh out loud at the exact moment a call dropped into my headset. That's hilarious. Put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

    Top stuff, keep it coming.

  3. Michael Sheils


    "Specifically, the promise of optics will become more and more appealing as chip makers continue to increase processing cores at roughly the same speed that shaving supply companies add superfluous blades to their razors."

    You now owe me a new keyboard after you forced me to spray beer all over my current one with that comment. Can I have a SteelSeries 7G please?

  4. Anonymous from Mars


    Those diagrams really helped put things in perspective.

  5. Dr. Mouse

    Now it wont be sharks...

    It'll be "I want a pool of flesh-eating backteria with frickin lasers on their membranes!"

  6. Scott

    Eye can't c

    My browser never lets me c the pictures so will that optical "thingy" that shaves 4000 angels @ a time have 4000 blades? and what happens to all the shavings?and...........sorry, mine is the one with coffee all over it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So what happens when a stray bit of dust/fluff/hair drifts into the path of the light beam?

  8. Daniel Wilkie


    Nothing, as long as it doesn't deflect the light beam far enough for to cross another beam. If it does we're screwed...

  9. michael

    @ daniel


  10. Ryan


    Don't be silly, they are so small that dust won't be able to get in.

    Also, they'll be sealed like HDDs.

  11. E


    What kind of framerates in Quake 4 will an optical processor with 1TB/s bandwidth provide? Should I wait to upgrade?

  12. Liam O'Hagan

    Actual size

    So you have made me find the first bright pixel on my monitor.

    Looking at the 'Actual size' picture, I noted 1 bright pixel, and thought 'that must be it then'

    Then I scrolled the page and the picture moved, but the bright pixel didn't...

  13. Fuzzy
    IT Angle

    New standard unit of measurement

    "speed that shaving supply companies add superfluous blades to their razors"

    So are we adding a new unit of measurement to the reg standards

  14. george abney

    IBM Opticchips Light Pulse Device...

    Microprocessor design on this platform imbedded in nanotubes spread through a polymer surface can coat the hull of spacestations and function as hull breach safety systems that immediately identify/isolate/and correct any meteorite penetration of space station hull. Same thing for aquatic submersibles and the same concept is applicable to synthetic skin covering artificial limbs... to provide sensory inputs through the limb to the brain.

    These microcircuits would be imbedded in human tissue/bones to provide communication interface and real time NET humanlinks for private-commercial uses and for use by the combat soldier in the field as the soldier physically hosts an entire array of communications systems in human flesh and bone.

    Wow. It ain't Kansas anymore AND it ain't Oz either. Its something BETTER!

  15. Frumious Bandersnatch

    rectilinear circuits not dead yet?

    Why do people still design circuits for a Manhattan-style grid? Wouldn't interconnection be simplified and real estate optimised by laying the components on hexagonal grid? With the right inter-bus co-ordination algorithms, scalability would come for free.

  16. RP

    Our future, let me show you it.

    This is all well and good, but you know Sarah Conner is just going to blow it up.

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