Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Faster networks may come from optics converted to sound


Optical data can be too fast for its own good. While the speeds obtained are great for carrying information over distances and into chips, when the light-carried data lands there it's often moving too fast to be thoroughly processed and analyzed. Data can need slowing down for intense number-crunching and routing.

Solutions to this apparent dichotomy have been attempted. They include the obvious one — speeding up microprocessors themselves. However, there's a problem with that: Faster chips using electronics create more heat, generate interference and use more energy. All bad for data centers.

Using sound waves to speed up networks

Scientists say sound waves, though, could present a solution. They say one should convert the light zooming into the chip to sound — creating a kind of acoustic buffer (sound waves travel slower than light waves) — then processes the data and turn it back into zippy light again, to be sent on its way.

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