One trillion bit-per-second optical chip

IBM’s prototype 5.2 x 5 .8 mm Holey Optochip:

IBM unveils one trillion bit-per-second optical chip

IBM unveils one trillion bit-per-second optical chip

Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named “Holey Optochip.” The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour. Stated another way, the Optochip is eight times faster than any other parallel optical components currently available, with a speed that’s equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users, if they were using regular 10 Mb/s high-speed internet. One of the unique features of parallel optic chips is the fact that they can simultaneously send and receive data. The Holey Optochip capitalizes on that feature, for its record-setting performance. The “Holey” in the name comes from the fact that the team started with a standard silicon CMOS chip, but bored 48 holes into it. These allow optical access to its inside back surface, where 24 separate receiver and transmitter channels are located – for a total of 48 channels. Each of those channels has its own dedicated VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser) and photodetector, which are used respectively for sending and receiving data. The chip is designed to be coupled to a multimode fiber array, via a microlens optical system.

The back of the IBM Holey Optochip, with lasers and photodectors visible through substrate...

The back of the IBM Holey Optochip, with lasers and photodectors visible through substrate holes All parts of the Optochip are made from commercially-available components, which should keep costs down on a production model. Also, the chip consumes less than five watts when operating – 20 of the devices could run on the power consumed by one 100-watt light bulb. “We have been actively pursuing higher levels of integration, power efficiency and performance for all the optical components through packaging and circuit innovations,” said IBM Researcher Clint Schow. “We aim to improve on the technology for commercialization in the next decade with the collaboration of manufacturing partners.”

Iran copies captured US RQ-170 Sentinel drone

Iran unveils ‘indigenous’ drone with 2,000km range:

Iran unveils 'indigenous' drone with 2,000km range

Iran unveils ‘indigenous’ drone with 2,000km range

Iran has unveiled what it says is a new “indigenous” long-range unmanned drone capable of flying over most of the Middle East, state media report. The Shahed (Witness) 129 had a range of 2,000km (1,240 miles) and could be equipped with bombs and missiles, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said. It is reportedly capable of carrying out reconnaissance and combat missions. Last year, the Iranian authorities displayed a US drone which they claimed to have brought down electronically. The US insisted that Iran neither shot down the the RQ-170 Sentinel nor used electronic warfare or cyber-technology to force it from the sky. They blamed a malfunction. Later, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace programme, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said it was trying to build a copy of the drone. It is not clear whether the Shahed 129 bears any resemblance. Defences ‘ready’. The unveiling of the drone follows a major naval exercise in the Gulf by the US and its allies.

Iranian TV images of downed drone. 8 Dec 2011
Iran refused to return the US RQ-170 Sentinel drone it captured in December 2011. Thirty countries participated in the manoeuvres designed to test the international community’s capacity to deal with mines that could hamper shipping in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil supply is transported. The exercises took place amid heightened tensions between the West and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme. On Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was not concerned by the threat that Israel could launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “Fundamentally we do not take seriously the threats of the Zionists,” he told reporters in New York. “We have all the defensive means at our disposal and we are ready to defend ourselves.” He also ignored a plea by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for both sides to avoid “incendiary rhetoric” by saying the modern state of Israel had “no roots” in the Middle East and would eventually be “eliminated”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned that Iran was only six or seven months from having “90%” of what it needed to make a nuclear bomb, and urged the US to draw a “red line” which if crossed would lead to military intervention. Iran insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.