100 Terabits per second

In April 2011 at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference in Los Angeles two research groups demonstrated the ability to transfer over 100 Tbps through optical fiber. That’s like downloading 250 Blu-Ray movies in 1 second.

NEC Laboratories America reached 101.7 Tbps over standard single-mode fiber using pilot based phase noise mitigation.

Sumitomo Electric Industries in Japan reached 109Tbps using spatial division multiplexed signals over a seven-core fiber.  The Sumitomo group sent 97 colors through each of the cores at data rates of 172Gbps (two 86Gbps QPSK signals) over 16.8 km of fiber.

The implications of this research is astounding, this means that by 2020 we could have this kind of speed on our home internet connection.  The information superhighway would become an information time machine with huge amounts of data transferred at speeds we cannot even imagine.  Artificial Intellegence programs could be transferred into robots minds from the other side of the world to perform complicated surgical procedures.  Large amounts of scientific data could be shared thousands of miles away faster than the blink of an eye.  The possibilities of this rate of data transfer are endless.

What would you do with 100Tbps?




Information on the difference between a “Bit” and a “Byte”:

Bits vs Bytes
This document is intended for novice use.

A bit is the smallest unit of information that can be stored or manipulated on a computer; it consists of either zero or one. Depending on meaning, implication, or even style, it could instead be described as false/true, off/on, no/yes, and so on. We can also call a bit a binary digit, especially when working with the 0 or 1 values.

A bit is not just the smallest unit of information, but for sake of discussion it can be said that a bit is also the largest unit of information a computer can manipulate. The bits are bunched together so the computer uses several bits at the same time, such as for calculating numbers. When a “bunch” means eight bits then it is called a byte.

A byte also happens to be how many bits are needed to represent letters of the alphabet and other characters. For example, the letter “A” would be 01000001; my initials “KJW” would be 010010110100101001010111. To make this a little bit easier to see where the bytes are it is customary place a comma every four digits, to make what are sometimes called nibbles: 0100,1011,0100,1010,0101,0111. That’s not really much easier for people to read or write–and many computer engineers, programmers, and analysts need to read and write even longer binary codes than this.

It so happens that there are only 16 different ways to write 0’s and 1’s four times. So something called hexademical code can be used to make the numbers shorter by translating each nibble (or half-a-byte) like this:

Binary:      0000     0001     0010     0011     0100     0101     0110     0111     1000     1001     1010     1011     1100     1101     1110     1111
Hexademical:      0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     A     B     C     D     E     F
Decimal:      0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15

Notice that {A,B,C,D,E,F} are not letters, they are numbers! Hexadecimal “C” means decimal “12” just like binary “1100”. Computers are designed to use hexadecimal becuase binary-hexadecimal handling is far more efficent than binary-decimal.

Each actual displayed letter is represented by a number inside the computer. (See ASCII or Unicode for tables.) So my initials would look like the following, to which I’ve also added a special <null> character to even it up into a full computer “word” for readablity sake. In this discussion <null> is just an invisible non-printing character.

(each a single byte)         K         J         W         <null>
(split into nibbles)     0100     1011     0100     1010     0101     0111     0000     0000
(also as nibbles)     4     B     4     A     5     7     0     0

So of course “4B4A5700” is much easier to understand than “0100101101001010010101110000”. To make it even a little bit easier to use commas are usually put in every 4th hexademical character just like was done for the binary digits. That would make my initials look like “4B4A,5700”. Some people use a space instead (4B4A 5700); in both cases the idea is readability.

These groupings are also special. Four bytes (such as my 3 initals and the <null>) are called a word. A group of 4 hexademical digits—which would be 16 bits long—is called a halfword.

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A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to it's old dimensions.