Corning and IBM Launch $20 Million Optical Technology Program for Supercomputers

Firms to Collaborate with Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration to Develop Optically Switched Interconnects

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CORNING, N.Y. & YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.</span></strong><span> </span><strong><span> - 04 Nov 2003: Corning Incorporated and IBM today announced that they will team with the US Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on a $20 million project to develop high-speed, optically switched interconnects for supercomputers.

Supercomputers allow researchers to experiment with virtual systems and processes that are too dangerous, big, or unpredictable to control in reality. Commercial applications of supercomputing include drug design, weather forecasting, and film animation.

The program being announced today will accelerate the development of high speed optical technology aimed at increasing network bandwidth by 50 times while reducing the cost of supercomputers, all of which are attributes required to surpass electronic interconnect technologies. This will address a persistent challenge in the design of high-performance computer systems to match advances in microprocessor performance with advances in data transfer performance. US government agencies and firms in the IT industry anticipate a point when scaling supercomputer systems to thousands of nodes with interconnect bandwidth of tens of gigabytes per second per node will require the use of optically switched interconnects.

Under the 2.5-year contract, Corning's Science & Technology Division, located in Corning New York will develop a prototype of an optically switched interconnect. This technology could enable future generations of high performance supercomputers by replacing traditional copper cables and electronic switches with a scalable, optical network. This joint exploratory research program is consistent with Corning's continued research in optical semiconductor technologies directed at high growth, non-telecom markets and IBM's strengths in the development of both telecom and data communications switching technologies.

IBM Research Labs in the US and Switzerland will provide the system's electronic control and monitoring circuitry and will assist with the integration of the optical interconnect modules provided by Corning, delivering a prototype system incorporating the optically switched interconnect within 30 months.

"Corning is ready to meet the technology challenge that the National Laboratories have posed for high speed optical supercomputer interconnects," said Dr. Joseph Miller, Chief Technology Officer at Corning.

"IBM researchers have been at the forefront of technology development for switches," said Dr. Tilak Agerwala, Vice-president of Systems at IBM Watson Research Center. "Driving to exceed one petaflop, or one quadrillion operations per second, will enable researchers to break down new barriers in life sciences, weather prediction, and defense."

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