High Speed Computing With Electronic-Photonic ALU

The processing speed of microprocessors has been stagnant for the past 20 years. More recently, Moore’s law has started to break down as nanofabrication technology gets closer to its inevitable physical limit.

In this post-Moore’s law age, significant efforts from numerous research areas have been made to create fast and power-efficient computing systems. Integrated photonics has revolutionized interconnects by having the rare ability to combine intricate electro-optic circuits on a single chip and has demonstrated its great potential in optical computing.

In contrast to transistor-based circuits, researchers propose an electronic-photonic high-speed computing architecture for a wavelength division multiplexing-based electronic-photonic arithmetic logic unit that disentangles the exponential relationship between power and clock rate. It increases computation speed and power efficiency. They experimentally prove its viability by implementing a 4-bit arithmetic logic unit comprising eight high-speed microdisk modulators and running at 20 GHz. Future electronic-photonic computing circuits with great speed and power efficiency can be built using this method.

With the shift away from long-haul communication links and toward inter- and intra-chip connections, integrated photonics is positioned to revolutionize conventional electrical interconnects. With the recently demonstrated “Zero-change” fabrication technique, which specifically tailors photonics devices to be integrated directly with transistors using the established complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) fabrication line, it is even now possible to achieve a high-performance optical memory-processor link on the same chip.

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