IBM Chip to Let You Download an HD Movie in One Second

Illustration for article titled IBM Chip to Let You Download an HD Movie in One Second

IBM trash-talks all those other chipsters with its latest breakthrough, an optical transceiver chipset that can accomplish the technological equivalent of cramming a basketball through a garden hose. The trick here is moving data through fiber optic cables at 160GB per second; that's eight times faster than today's optical components can do.

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What does that mean for you and me? How about an HD movie downloading in one second compared with the snail's pace of a few hours it takes to download a 720p flick from Xbox Live today? All that breakneck speed will be made possible by this tiny device that's just 3.25 x 5.25mm small. But will this minuscule chip really solve the current bandwidth problem?

There's plenty of fiber around, but until this breakthrough, it was all dressed up with no place to go. What's needed is this kind of technology that can speed up transfer and receive rates. Well, and then actually getting that fiber optic connection to the doorsteps of households across the world (otherwise known as fiber to the home) is no easy task, either. However, Verizon FiOS is making some progress here.

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Once those connections are made, it'll be up to weasels like Time Warner Cable and Comcast to figure out ways to throttle this blazing speed, and charge you unreasonable fees for it. Propellerheads, check the press release link for details.

Press Release [IBM, via Sci Fi Tech]

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DISCUSSION

@Type-E:

Thats not entirely true. the 160gbit/s (not 160GB/s, Gizmodo!) would be used mainly for infrastructure purposes. If 500mbit/s (~50MB/s transfer rates) ever reached home, that would be incredibly useful. I have Gigabit between my main PC and my fileserver (i.e. my older PC that is now performing that task), and 40+MB/s transfers between the two computers is great, and that's with one of the computers on an older board that doesn't handle Gigabit Ethernet very well. On a newer board, it wouldn't be unheard of to be able to support 80MB/s or so.

Obviously this does not equate to an HD movie in one second, but a huge upgrade. And anyway, at that point, networked drives could actually be a feasible reality, as files could be streamed over the internet at blazing speeds. Just to put things in perspective, with the maximum bitrate of a high def movie currently at about 50mbps (Bluray is a max 54mbit/s, HD-DVD is max 36.55mbit/s), a 10GbE connected server could serve full bitrate 1080p video to 200 users at a time. If fiber technology like this takes off, 100GbE can serve 2000 users, or 160GbE, like in this article, can server 3200 users.

I smell good things in the future of fiber, as long as the greedy ISPs don't throttle it too hard.