The high-speed transceiver combines IBM's optical chips on a board with optical wiring, allowing the chips to connect with standard networking components.
Optical chips, which transfer data as light pulses, are seen as a possible successor to current wire interfaces due to their higher speeds and lower energy consumption. Intel is already working on similar technology.
"Last year we unveiled an optical transceiver chipset that could transmit a high-definition movie in under a second using highly customised optical components and processes," explained IBM Researcher Clint Schow.
"Now we have built an even faster transceiver and have moved the optical components away from custom devices to more standard parts procured from a volume manufacturer."
The optical devices are also energy efficient. IBM estimates that the chips consume one one-hundredth of the energy used by current networking hardware, and about the same amount of energy as a 100-watt light bulb.
While IBM initially sees the optical hardware used for high-speed links on supercomputers, the company hopes that the energy efficiency could also be used to bring HD video capabilities to mobile phones.
Other possible applications include medical imaging devices and high-bandwidth video and music servers.
IBM plans to provide more information on the technology later this year at the Optical Fibre Communications Conference in San Diego.
IBM supercharges data transfers
By Shaun Nichols on Mar 3, 2008 7:19AM