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New chip opens door to AI computing at light speed

Accepted submission by Freeman at 2024-02-28 15:41:26 from the beam me up dept.
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Penn Engineers have developed a new chip that uses light waves, rather than electricity, to perform the complex math essential to training AI. The chip has the potential to radically accelerate the processing speed of computers while also reducing their energy consumption.
The interaction of light waves with matter represents one possible avenue for developing computers that supersede the limitations of today's chips, which are essentially based on the same principles as chips from the earliest days of the computing revolution in the 1960s.
Instead of using a silicon wafer of uniform height, explains Engheta, "you make the silicon thinner, say 150 nanometers," but only in specific regions. Those variations in height -- without the addition of any other materials -- provide a means of controlling the propagation of light through the chip, since the variations in height can be distributed to cause light to scatter in specific patterns, allowing the chip to perform mathematical calculations at the speed of light.
this design is already ready for commercial applications, and could potentially be adapted for use in graphics processing units (GPUs), the demand for which has skyrocketed with the widespread interest in developing new AI systems. "They can adopt the Silicon Photonics platform as an add-on," says Aflatouni, "and then you could speed up training and classification."

Original Source: New Chip Opens Door to AI Computing at Light Speed []
Linked Paper from Originial Source: Inverse-designed low-index-contrast structures on a silicon photonics platform for vector–matrix multiplication []
Arxiv link to original paper: []

Original Submission