Light at the End of the Chip

IBM's low-power germanium photodetectors may bring optical interconnects to microprocessors

3 min read
Light at the End of the Chip

Image: IBM
Germanium Juxtaposed: IBM integrated nanoscale germanium-based avalanche photodetectors on a silicon chip.

A better photodetector could bring optical data transfer between computer chips closer to reality, according to the IBM researchers who created the device. Such an advance could overcome a looming speed limit—the rate at which data can move between a processor’s cores, or from one chip to another, over copper wire.

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The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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