The aim is to improve the scalability and energy-efficiency of data centres and 5G networks where the volumes of data transfer grow exponentially.
The way we use and share information and entertainment content is changing from local media hardware into distributed content with on-line and mobile access. In entertainment, DVDs and CDs have already been replaced by streaming and on-demand movie services. Data storage and bookkeeping are moving into cloud with on-line mobile access and internet of things will soon connect everyday devices into the local or global network.
Already before the onset of this transition, the volume of data transfer was increasing exponentially and the capacity of the data centres was doubled every 18 months. In 2014 the data centres in EU alone consumed about 120 TWh of energy, roughly equivalent to the full capacity of fourteen 1 GW nuclear reactors.
The new Tekes-funded project, Optical Information Processing for Energy-Efficient Data Centres (OPEC), focuses on the development of novel optical components and technologies on VTT’s proprietary silicon photonics platform, as well as new silicon wafer production and precision assembly concepts.
Future challenges are approached by developing graphene and other layered 2D material based active photonic components in collaboration between VTT and Aalto University to achieve performance beyond the theoretical limit of the traditional materials.