Sep 20 – 24, 2010
Aachen, Germany
Europe/Zurich timezone

Optical Technologies for Data Communication in Large Parallel Systems


Mr Mark Ritter (IBM US)


Large, parallel systems have been employed by scientists for both computation and data collection, but performance scaling now relies on chip and system-level parallelism. This has happened because power density limits have caused processor frequency growth to stagnate, driving the new multi-core architecture paradigm, which would seem to provide generations of performance increases as transistors scale. However, this paradigm will be constrained by electrical I/O bandwidth limits; first off the processor card, then off the processor module itself. We will present best-estimates of these limits, then show how optical technologies can help provide more bandwidth to allow continued system scaling. We will describe the current status of optical transceiver technology which is already being used to exceed off-board electrical bandwidth limits, then present work on silicon nanophotonic transceivers and 3D integration technologies which, taken together, promise to allow further increases in off-module and off-card bandwidth. Finally, we will show estimated limits of nanophotonic links and discuss breakthroughs that are needed for further progress, and will speculate on whether we will reach Exascale-class machine performance at affordable powers.

Presentation materials