Want a faster computer? Boulder turns to light

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 15:55:34-05

In the quest to be faster, faster, faster, a single chip that is only half the size of a fingernail could be the next big thing inside your computer.

"The link between the processor and memory is now done with light instead of electronics," researcher Jeffrey Shainline told Denver7.

And since light can carry five, 10, or more times the amount of data as current copper wires, that means more bandwidth and more speed.

"We can now we can now have more powerful processors generating more data and still send it to memory without melting the chip," Shainline added.

Researchers at CU-Boulder, along with MIT and the University of California at Berkeley developed the microprocessor over the course of a decade. They say it could be speeding up your PC in half that.

"In home computers we may see a factor of ten improvements in speed in the next five years or something like that," Shainline said.

And with information being moved faster at all levels, that would speed up data centers, super-computers, high-speed internet, and even help keep your smart phone from dying.

Commercial use is still a few years away but because it uses the rest of the computer's existing technology, it already has a place to fit.

And it's not difficult to produce. Shainline says it costs the exact same amount as an electronic microchip to make.

Two spinoff startups have a ready started to utilize and commercialize this technology. Researchers estimate these chips are 2-5 years out from being in your devices.