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Sun Uses Light To Connect Chips



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Sun says it will explore the idea of replacing the wires between computer chips with laser beams and that the Pentagon was paying it $US44 million to work on the technology, part of the emerging field of silicon photonics.
If the project is successful, Sun claims it would eradicate the main bottleneck facing today’s supercomputer designers i.e. the difficulty of moving information rapidly to solve problems that require hundreds or thousands of processors.
“All of a sudden it’s better to have an optical superhighway,” said Greg Papadopoulos, chief technology officer and executive vice president of research and development for Sun.
The Sun researchers say their project is a significant gamble. “This is a high-risk program,” said Ron Ho, a researcher at Sun Laboratories who is one of the leaders of the effort. “We expect a 50 per cent chance of failure.”

The company refers to their new system as a macrochip, in contrast to a microchip. They said the technology would make it possible for computer architects to rethink the organisation of circuitry on any computer.
Furthermore, if Sun was to be successful, the results would yield increasingly compact machines that are a thousand times as fast as current computers.