The new silicon chips in the data transfer system generate high-frequency signals with enough power to transmit data directly into the conduit
A new data transfer system has been developed by researchers that can transmit information 10 times faster than a USB. The new link has a pair of high-frequency silicon chips with a polymer cable as thin a strand of hair.
In data centres, the data transfer system may boost energy efficiency and lighten the loads of electronics-rich spacecraft, according to researchers.
Lead researcher Jack Holloway from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “There’s an explosion in the amount of information being shared between computer chips, cloud computing, the internet, big data. And a lot of this happens over conventional copper wire”.
“But copper wires, like those found in USB or HDMI cables, are power-hungry, especially when dealing with heavy data loads”
“There’s a fundamental trade-off between the amount of energy burned and the rate of information exchanged,” Holloway added.
Despite a growing demand for fast transmission of data through conduits longer than a meter, the researcher says the typical solution has been “increasingly bulky and costly”, copper cables.
The new data transfer system draws on benefits of both copper and fibre optic conduits, while ditching their drawbacks.
The team engineered low-cost chips to pair with the polymer conduit for the study, presented at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference.
Silicon chips struggle to operate at sub-terahertz frequencies, but the team’s new chips in the data transfer system generate high-frequency signals with enough power to transmit data directly into the conduit.
The researchers said that from silicon chips to conduit, the clean connection means that the overall data transfer system can be manufactured with standard, cost-effective methods.
In terms of size, the new link also beats out copper and fibre optic.
The researchers said, “The cross-sectional area of our cable is 0.4 millimetres by a quarter millimetres. So, it’s super tiny, like a strand of hair”
Since it sends signals over three different parallel channels separated by frequency, the new data transfer system can carry a hefty load of data, despite its slim size.
“Address the bandwidth challenges as we see this megatrend toward more and more data”, the researchers say the cable cloud.