Award Winners

Modulators conserve supercomputer power

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 7:03am

Sandia Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications Platform2009 R&D 100 Winner

The current highest-performing supercomputers have just reached one petaflop (1015 floating point operations/second). These machines require approximately 5 mW of power between direct power and cooling with approximately 20% of the power going to network communications. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., developed the Ultralow-Power Silicon Microphotonic Communications platform to address the bandwidth and power consumption limitations of future microelectronic inter-chip networks. The silicon microphotonic modulators demonstrate a hundred-fold reduction in communications power consumption, comparable to traditional electrical inter-chip networks in a platform capable of achieving up to seven terabits-per-second of communications bandwidth per communications line. The high-speed silicon bandpass switches demonstrate that the optical data can be routed on a silicon chip at nano-second switching speeds with less than 1 mW of power consumption. This communications platform can be applied to high-performance computer, high-speed digital imagers, and other high-bandwidth applications.

Silicon microphotonic modulators

Sandia National Laboratories

Award Year



Sandia National Laboratories (U.S. Dept. of Energy)


David Haaland (Primary)
Anthony Lentine (Primary)
David Luck (Primary)
Douglas Trotter (Primary)
Michael Watts (Primary)
Ralph Young (Primary)

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