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  • Photonic ‘Firewall on a Chip’ Gets EU Funding
Aug 2006
IPSWICH, England, Aug. 2, 2006 -- European Union funding of 2 million euros ($2.5 million) has been announced for a new three-year project to develop a reconfigurable photonic "firewall on a chip." Called WISDOM, (wirespeed security domains using optical monitoring), the new system will be designed to plug what its developers said is a major gap in global network security -- an inability to perform security checks and algorithms directly at high optical data communication rates.

WISDOM will complement current electronic security techniques with optical information filtering operating at wirespeed, and is being developed by a consortium led by the UK’s Centre for Integrated Photonics (CIP), an optical component and subsystem fabricator. Consortium partners include research institutions such as Ireland's Tyndall Institute and the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH) of Greece, OEM system supplier Avanex of France and UK network operator BT. WISDOM.jpg
The European Union's WISDOM project will develop a reconfigurable photonic "firewall on a chip."
“Optical technology lies at the heart of the global electronic and computer-based communications systems on which we are all increasingly reliant," said CIP's Graeme Maxwell. "It’s the key to very high data speeds and very large information handling capacity. But we are still reliant on conventional electronic tools for key functions such as legal intercept, flow classification and performance monitoring. WISDOM technology will provide a scaleable and robust solution to key issues of next-generation network security by allowing close inspection of optical data directly in the optical domain.”

The optical subsystems being developed under WISDOM will take state-of-the-art hybrid integrated photonic technology and extend it to meet the performance requirements of a photonic firewall, CIP said. The subsystems will be based on research on high-speed (greater than 40 Gb/s) optical logic gates and optical processing circuits provided by project partners Avanex, CIP and Tyndall.

Further research will target effective algorithms for identifying security events. Within this platform, silica-on-silicon circuits will be used as the optical equivalent of the electronic PCB, providing the passive optical functionality, time delays and closed loop optical circuits. This optical circuit board will be populated using both discrete and monolithically integrated active semiconductor devices. The specific choice of component will be determined by the function required and the level of maturity of the technology delivering that function, CIP said.

A range of optoelectronic components can be integrated, including laser sources, optical amplifiers, optical modulators and optical detectors. Passive assembly and precision alignment designs will be used throughout to establish the platform as low cost, since packaging is the dominant cost in these complex, high-performance subsystems, CIP said.

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1. A constituent part. It may consist of two or more parts cemented together, or with near and approximately matching surfaces. 2. The projection of a vector on a certain coordinate axis or along a particular direction. 3. In a lens system, one or more elements treated as a unit. 4. An optical element within a system.
Pertaining to optics and the phenomena of light.
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