Computer giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced that by 2017 it hopes to have developed a computer chip that features 256 microprocessors tied together with beams of light. The microprocessor, codenamed Corona, will be powered by a laser and HP hopes it will be able to perform ten trillion floating points operations a second.
As a result of this development, the chips could operate at an impressive 20 terabytes per second. Memory, meanwhile, would work at ten terabytes a second, HP said. Consequently, Corona stands to run memory-intensive applications about two to six times faster than an equivalent chip using electric wires.
The chip would also use a lot less power, according to HP, which confirmed that it would enable supercomputers to reach the exascale barrier - a remarkable 100 times faster than the current fastest supercomputer
Long-term, HP, as well as a number of other research operations, hopes to see light play a more prominent role in this area, with information being sent through the power of light. Other projects attempting to break through the much-vaunted exascale barrier include Intel's Runnemede, MIT's Angstrom and NVIDIA's Echelon, as well as Sandia's X-calibur projects.
At present, the necessary technology does not exist to develop Corona. That, according to HP, is about to change and it expects to have the chip ready to use by 2017.