SK Hynix, NTT, And Intel Announce Partnership To Make Optical Chips

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  • The Japanese government is actively supporting this research, providing 45 billion yen ($304 million) as part of its efforts
  • Intel’s focus in this partnership is on developing technology that can reduce power consumption by 30-40 percent

South Korea, the United States, and Japan have partnered to pioneer the next generation of semiconductors by harnessing optical technology.

This cutting-edge technology replaces traditional electronic processing with light, significantly reducing power consumption when integrated into semiconductor chips. Moreover, it offers the potential to increase processing speeds by thousands of times, which is a groundbreaking development as the semiconductor industry approaches the physical limits of scaling down nanometer-sized chips.

Typically, information transmitted via optical communication needs to be converted into electrical signals through dedicated devices before reaching data centre servers. Within these servers, semiconductors exchange electrical signals to perform computations and memory operations. In contrast, optical convergence technology eliminates these complex intermediary processes by utilising light signals.

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Collaboration with chipmakers is crucial to achieve faster optical communication compared to electricity. NTT plans to partner with Intel for central processing units (CPUs) and collaborate with SK Hynix for memory chips.

The Japanese government is actively supporting this research, providing 45 billion yen ($304 million) as part of its efforts to advance next-generation 6G communication research. Other Japanese companies, including semiconductor package manufacturer Shinko Electric Industries Co. and memory chip maker Kioxia Corp., are also expected to participate.

Through this technological cooperation, NTT aims to develop the capability to incorporate light-receiving devices within chips by 2027 and to advance memory technology capable of storing terabit-level data.

Intel’s focus in this partnership is on developing technology that can reduce power consumption by 30-40 percent compared to existing methods. NTT, on the other hand, plans to progressively enhance power efficiency through ion technology, with the goal of increasing it by approximately tenfold by 2025 and up to 100 times by 2032. This collaborative effort holds significant promise for the future of semiconductor technology and communication advancements.

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