With novel optoelectronic chips and a new partnership with a top silicon-chip manufacturer, MIT spinout Ayar Labs aims to increase speed and reduce energy consumption in computing, starting with data centers.
Backed by years of research at MIT and elsewhere, Ayar has developed chips that move data around with light but compute electronically. The unique design integrates speedy, efficient optical communications — with components that transmit data using light waves — into traditional computer chips, replacing less efficient copper wires.
According to the startup, the chips can reduce energy usage by about 95 percent in chip-to-chip communications and increase bandwidth tenfold over their copper-based counterparts. In massive data centers — Ayar’s first target application — run by tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, the chips could cut total energy usage by 30 to 50 percent, says CEO Alex Wright-Gladstein MBA ’15.
“Right now there’s a bandwidth bottleneck in big data centers,” says Wright-Gladstein, who co-founded Ayar with Chen Sun PhD ’15 and Mark Wade, a University of Colorado graduate and former MIT researcher. “That’s an exciting application and the first place that really needs this technology.”
thumbnail courtesy of mit.edu