Fiber optic…circuts?

Today I was leaving class, and I started a conversation with someone who was in quite a hurry to get to a team meeting, so I inquired what about.

He said fiber optics, and I figured, you know alright, just another fiber optic whatever. So I dug a bit deeper, and it turns out he’s working on getting fiber optic integrated circuts to work. Let me say that again FIBER OPTIC CIRCUTS!!!

As soon as he said that I immediatly had 10 ideas in my head, and we branching into our seperate directions, and this interested me so much that I walked away from the elevator that I was waiting for just to talk with him about it.

As any EE major knows, the reason that we use serial communication as opposed to parallel communication is because of the fact that we don’t have to worry about syncing the clock (the force telling your circuts on what interval to do something).


Data used to be transmitted like this:









This is known as a parallel transfer because, as you can see data lines travels in parallel with one another.


As IC’s get smaller and more efficient, the distance of the copper wire starts  to effect the latency of copper wiring. In short, the minuscule length differences between 6 and 7 would cause their signal to be just the slightest bit off.

This used to be fine when we had a long clock period, but when you turn the clock frequency up (and thus increasing the speed of your circuit) there is a major problem of getting the signals to sync properly.

Then someone figured out that you could multiply your speed much past that with parallel connectors using a serial connector with an embeded clock signal.

This allows for us to turn the clock WAY up and get a major performance boost, as we no longer have to deal with different length connectors throwing our main clock off.

Essentially what this boils down to is the fact that we can now take all these super-fast serial lines, and run them in parallel again, giving us a multiplaction of throughput, thus shattering yet another bottleneck in the computing industry. Amongst other things.

How about not having to worry about your circut “shorting out”? We can literally take this theoretical circit and have it water-proof in nature, because we’re using lasers (which still conduct under water, not to say they won’t be refracted though)

Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I am still just stunned at the implications.

Imagine your next iPod having a few million of these in it :-P


Then the internet will REALLY be made of tubes

I just can’t wait to see how they actually implament this into circuts. Interesting!


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