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Faster optical networks

Researchers at the Center for Research and Development in Telecommunications (CPqD), in the city of Campinas, are planning to start testing a new processor for fiber optic networks in December 2015. Carrying 16.8 million transistors, each with a gate length of approximately 16 nanometers, the new chip will integrate the optical transceiver modules – devices that convert electrical signals into light signals and vice versa – of new-generation fiber optic networks. The goal is to increase transmission capacity to 400 gigabits per second (Gbps), four times the speed of present-day networks. Designed and developed by CPqD in partnership with U.S.-based ClariPhy Communications, the new chip is one of the world’s first produced for optical communications on a scale of 16 nanometers, 37 times smaller than the chips produced by Brazil’s most advanced chip manufacturers. In early June 2015, CPqD ordered production of a simpler version of the processor (test chip) in Taiwan. The first version should be ready in December, when it will undergo concept testing. “We hope to have a complete assessment of the prototype by early 2016,” says Juliano Oliveira, optical technologies manager at CPqD. The final version of the chip is expected to be available by early 2017. The project received R$59 million from the Fund for Telecommunications Technological Development (Funttel).