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Corning, IBM to Launch Optical Technology Program

Photonics.com
Nov 2003
CORNING, N.Y. and YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. Nov. 4 -- Corning Inc. and IBM announced today they will collaborate with the US Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration on a $20 million project to develop high-speed, optically switched interconnects for supercomputers.

"The program being announced today will accelerate the development of high-speed optical technology aimed at increasing network bandwidth by 50 times while reducing the cost of supercomputers, all of which are attributes required to surpass electronic interconnect technologies," Corning said. "This will address a persistent challenge in the design of high-performance computer systems to match advances in microprocessor performance with advances in data transfer performance."

Supercomputers allow researchers to experiment with virtual systems and processes that are too dangerous, big or unpredictable to control in reality, Corning said in a press release. Commercial applications of supercomputing include drug design, weather forecasting and film animation.

Under the 2 1/2-year contract, Corning's Science & Technology Division, located in Corning, N.Y., will develop a prototype of an optically switched interconnect.

The company said US government agencies and firms in the IT industry anticipate a point when scaling supercomputer systems to thousands of nodes with interconnect bandwidth of tens of Gb/s per node will require the use of optically switched interconnects.

"This technology could enable future generations of high-performance supercomputers by replacing traditional copper cables and electronic switches with a scalable, optical network," Corning said.

It said the joint exploratory research program is consistent with its continued research in optical semiconductor technologies directed at high growth, nontelecom markets and with IBM's strengths in the development of both telecom and data communications switching technologies.

IBM Research Labs in the US and Switzerland will provide the system's electronic control and monitoring circuitry and will assist with the integration of the optical interconnect modules provided by Corning, delivering a prototype system incorporating the optically switched interconnect within 30 months.

For more information, visit: www.corning.com



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