Big Data moves through Cloud Networks at the Speed of Light
Kagan Pittman posted on May 12, 2015 |

The future for Cloud computing and Big Data is coming at the speed of light thanks to fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics (WMSP) chips.

WMSP chips open the door to the manufacture of 100 GB/s optical transceivers. With these transfer speeds datacenters can offer greater data rates, bandwidth and performance at lower cost and energy consumption. This will certainly help users from simulation giants, to IoT enabled production facilities.

The WMSP chip uses four distinct colors of light travelling within an optical fiber to transmit data in and around a computing system. By overlaying multiple colors of light within a single optical fiber, the limitations of congested data traffic is greatly alleviated.

Each color of light can operate independently as its own 25 GB/s channel. To put this in perspective, this kind of speed could let you download an entire high-definition digital movie in just two seconds.

Silicon photonics uses tiny optical components to send light pulses to transfer data between computer chips in servers, datacenters and supercomputers up to two kilometers away (1.24 miles).

Different optical components can be integrated side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

Silicon Photonics Can’t Get Here Fast Enough

The promise of improved response time is just what the technology industry needs as more IT systems and Cloud services process and analyze Big Data in real time.

Most optical interconnect solutions used in datacenters today are based upon vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) technology. In this case, optical signals are transported via multimode optical fiber cables.

With the demand for greater distances and data rates, single-mode fibre cables can overcome multimode’s limitations, but they come with a heavier price tag.

IBM hopes to solve both the price and efficiency problems with their CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology. Both electrical and optical essential parts can be integrated on a single WMSP chip, designed to work with standard silicon chip manufacturing processes.

Further details will be presented by IBM at the 2015 Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics May 10 to 15 in San Jose, California.

What do you think are the implications behind IBM’s WMSP chip?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more information on the 2015 Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics, visit

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