Researchers use photonics to develop low-emission internet

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European scientists are using photonics to develop a low emission, 1.6 terabyte-per-second speed internet that will reduce power consumption by 50% per Gb/s.

The Horizon 2020 funded consortium TERIPHIC is developing new optical transceiver modules used in internet datacentres that will reduce power consumption by 50% per Gb/s and in turn see lower carbon emissions.

Using light to exchange terabits – or thousands of gigabits per second – the TERIPHIC group expect their new transceivers to solve problems faster and reduce queue times.

The new ultra-high-capacity, low power consumption pluggable modules are capable of both 800 Gb/s and 1.6 Tb/s. This shortens processing intervals for High-Performance Computing, Edge Computing, and machine learning. To put that into context, speeds of 1.6Tb/s are the equivalent of downloading 267 HD Netflix movies in one second.

Aiming to surpass current ‘gold’ standards of 400GB per second, TERIPHIC expect their modules to cost €0.3 per Gigabyte per second.

Panos Groumas from the TERIPHIC project coordination team, said: “Photonics is essential for the future of datacentres. TERIPHIC intends to develop low-cost terabit optical transceivers through the automation of current photonic integration concepts and processes in commercial assembly machines.”

“While 400G is impressive, and was demonstrated in 2018, High-Performance Computing, Edge Computing, machine learning, end-user experiences will not run on existing speeds of 400 Gb/s. We are developing mass production compatible 800 Gb/s pluggable modules with 8 lanes and 1.6 Tb/s mid-board modules with 16 lanes having at least 2 km reach."

The three year, €5.6 million TERIPHIC project will operate until December 2021 and has received a grant of €4.7 million from the European Commission via the Photonics PPP. The project is coordinated by the Photonics Communications Research Laboratory (PCRL) of the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS) at NTU Athens, Greece.