APIC Corporation, in collaboration with MIT and Stanford University, has successfully created a germanium laser, potentially opening the door to the photonic chip – a microprocessor that uses photons instead electrons, theoretically increasing computing performance exponentially, while dropping power consumption and cooling requirements.
The team succeeded in making germanium produce a laser when electrically pumped. Using this technology, called FLIP (Fully Laser Integrated Photonics), APIC hopes to develop photonic microprocessors, doping germanium in silicon wafer. Photons from the induced germanium laser could then be travel along nano-sized waveguides, in much the same way as electrons travel in current day copper processor circuits.
APIC has tied up with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) to develop the first commercially viable photonic microprocessor. Once the chip has been produced, APIC would probably tie-up with bigger chip-makers to release the processors into the mass market.
With photonic microprocessors, computing power would increase dramatically, with light speed communication, enabling a much higher-order of parallel processing and sheer operations per second. Cooling and power consumption requirements would also be reduced drastically, with photons requiring less power to propel, and, travelling along waveguides without generating heat. When compared to electrons facing electrical resistance in circuits of conventional microprocessors, negligible energy will be required to cool the photonic processor, and heat-based complexity limitations would be a thing of the past.
Dr. Birendra Raj Dutt, founder and CTO of APIC, and a former scientists, spoke about the project:
“Both the scientific community and industry have been waiting for a breakthrough like this and I am extremely proud of my team. But I am most excited about the practical effect on the world. We will now be able to use photons for many of the information functions that electrons have performed on silicon computer chips -- drastically reducing their power consumption while supercharging their performance.
Photonics is good for the environment. Photonic microprocessors will bring two enormous related advantages over conventional computing: speed-of-light communications and parallel processing. We have solved the latency problem that plagues multicore processors and complex computing.
Photonics brings true parallel processing, emulating the human brain. Even the fastest computers today perform every function in serial, one after another, the same as they did last century. But the reason even a child can outthink most computers is that we process our information in parallel; we can access each memory and experience simultaneously, at once, to make a decision. Photonic microprocessors will be able to do that."
Dr. Tony Tether, a former director of DARPA, spoke of the momentous importance of the project.
"The APIC FLIP effort has achieved creating a germanium LASER heretofore thought to be impossible. Take these results as the Kitty Hawk demonstration where it was shown that manned flight was possible."
Source: Indian Express