Monday, June 8, 2015

Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity, and an engineering feat brings optical data transport closer to replacing wires.

Stanford electrical engineer Jelena Vuckovic wants to make computers faster and more efficient by reinventing how they send data back and forth between chips, where the work is done.
In computers today, data is pushed through wires as a stream of electrons. That takes a lot of power, which helps explain why laptops get so warm.
"Several years ago, my colleague David Miller carefully analyzed power consumption in computers, and the results were striking," said Vuckovic, referring to David Miller, the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering. "Up to 80 percent of the microprocessor power is consumed by sending data over the wires – so-called interconnects."
In a Nature Photonics article whose lead author is Stanford graduate student Alexander Piggott, Vuckovic, a professor of electrical engineering, and her team explain a process that could revolutionize computing by making it practical to use light instead of electricity to carry data inside computers.

By Tom Abate | Stanford Engineering


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