NTT unveils prototype chip to boost communications speed

NTT has unveiled a prototype chip that will help boost communications speed in data centers and across undersea fiber optic cables in the future.
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A 2 Tbps communication future is six to seven years out as communication equipment using the new chip would have to be designed by other companies.

The tiny chip would amplify a 100 Gigahertz (GHz) electrical signal, said Kazuhiro Gomi president and CEO at NTT Research, in Silicon Valley. NTT said its development will speed up the Internet for consumers and accelerate communication for data centers in the future.

Amplifying the electrical signal is a key step in communications as a weak signal is hard to read. But the bigger the frequency, the harder it is to amplify because it requires a faster response time. A 100 GHz signal can be amplified in the lab setting.

“That lab level achievement was implemented into a package that got very small. You can put it on your on your fingertip, basically. That is that the key achievement,” said Gomi.

Shrinking the device size is key to building it into communication devices, he said.

Gomi said the chip uses a relatively new material called indium phosphide rather than silicon.

This chip would be a key component to reaching 2 terabit per second speed (Tbps). Today fiber optic communications happen at about 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) speed and the industry is transitioning to 400 Gbps and aiming to get to 1.2 Tbps.