During the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, IBM introduced a prototype device that can be used to improve Internet speeds to 200 - 400 Gigabits per second (Gb/s) at extremely low power. The company indicated that files weighing in at 160 GB could be downloaded in mere seconds.
"As Big Data and Internet traffic continues to grow exponentially, future networking standards have to support higher data rates," reads IBM's press release. "For example, in 1992, 100 Gigabyte of data was transferred per day, whereas today, traffic has grown to two Exabytes per day, a 20 million fold increase."
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The company explains that it's working with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to develop ultra-fast and energy efficient analog-to-digital converter (ADC) technology. An ADC converts analog signals to digital, approximating the right combination of zeros and ones to digitally represent the data.
IBM reports that scientists plan to use hundreds of thousands of ADCs to convert the analog radio signals originating from the Big Bang into digital. The ADC use is part of a collaboration called Dome between ASTRON (PDF available here), the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, DOME-South Africa and IBM to develop a fundamental IT roadmap for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).
According to IBM, the SKA, which will collect radio data from deep space, is an international project to build the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. This telescope is expected to generate 10 times the global internet traffic, and IBM's prototype ADC would be an ideal candidate to transport the signals fast and at very low power.
"Our ADC supports IEEE standards for data communication and brings together speed and energy efficiency at 32 nanometers, enabling us to start tackling the largest Big Data applications," said Dr. Martin Schmatz, Systems department manager at IBM Research. "With Semtech as our partner, we are bringing our previous generation of the ADC to market less than 12 months since it was first developed and tested."
SemTech has licensed a previous version of IBM's prototype, and will use the technology to advance communications platforms slated to be announced later this year.
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