Casimer DeCusatis, IBM Corp., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The use of high-speed fiber-optic channels for data processing has become the key to a new class of high performance computer architectures. Conventional mainframe computers use high performance silicon bipolar technology that is densely packaged and requires water cooling. As a result, the cost/performance curve for these machines has grown prohibitively steep in recent years. Because of increasing performance in CMOS-based technology, an alternative approach to achieving very high performance involves connecting a large number of microprocessors in parallel. Since the individual processors can now be air cooled, the cost is much lower to achieve equivalent or superior performance to traditional mainframes. To take advantage of this highly coupled parallel processing, high bandwidth data communication channels are required; this application is well suited to fiber-optic technology.
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