IBM says it can meet that need, building its new chip set by making an optical transceiver with standard CMOS technology and combining that with optical components crafted from exotic materials such as indium phosphide and gallium arsenide. The resulting package is just 3.25 mm by 5.25 mm in size, small enough to be integrated onto a printed circuit board.
Although all those technologies exist today, it will probably be at least three years until suppliers can produce enough parts for IBM to bring optical transceivers into its product stream, the company said.
When it does arrive, the part could have an immediate impact on applications from computing to communications and entertainment. A PC using that board would be able to reduce the download time of a typical high-definition feature-length movie from 30 minutes to one second, the company said.