The term ‘Microprocessor’ was first used in the year 1968 and in 1971 when Intel released its first 4-bit processor. From then, the technology of processors has taken many huge leaps and bounds which have led to the current generation of processors where we can compute huge amounts of data.
Now, this technology takes even more of a giant step. We can also say this is a giant jump with the researchers at the University of Colorado and MIT making the world’s first light based microprocessor.
How it Works
This light based microprocessor, as the name suggests, can make use of light to transmit data rather than electricity. This advancement makes us look forward to a super fast and low power consuming computers for mammoth computing.
But it does not use only light to transmit data. It makes use of both electricity and light thus making the power consumption less. Around 850 photonic components have been placed in the chip to make use of the light energy.
The main advantage of this light based microprocessor is that light can travel longer distances than electricity using the same amount of power. Also, as light can disperse into many colours depending on the bandwidth, multiple and parallel streams of data can be sent over the same medium(optical wire wave guide or an optical fibre). We have already experienced how the usage of optical fibres dramatically increased the speed of Internet.
This microprocessor can process 300 Gbps per sq mm which is approximately 10-50 times more than the traditional processors. But since this being the first of its kind it comes with only two cores and a size of 3 mm by 6 mm. So we can’t expect some serious powerful computing machine for a few years.
This is just an initial peak into the light by the processing technology. It still has a long way to go till we can see these light based microprocessors being used as a mainstream processing element, surpassing the capabilities of the currently used processors.
As the amount of data that needs to be computed is growing higher and higher along with the scarcity of electrical energy this technology might be the saviour for the whole computing world.