Friday, March 09, 2007

Switching on the lights

Can't close the week without mentioning Lightfleet Corp. (Camas, Wash.) that claimed this week it will bring free space optics to high performance computers later this year. There have been plenty of claims in this area but little reality to date.

The startup, founded in May 2003, is not providing details of its technology yet. But it did say its Corowave switch essentially includes a laser transmitter and an array of opto-electronic receivers. Each processor in a server is outfitted with the switch, creating an all-to-all broadcast or multicast network with each CPU filtering out what data it needs. The company has one US patent (No. 7,136,419) issued in November.

How that CPUs maintain alignment and how the filtering is done sound like interesting challenges. The company tipped its plans in hopes of raising interest in licensing the switch it intends to put in its own systems in July.

Perhaps this summer the company will shine more light on exactly what it is up to. You can check out somewhat sketchy reports at HPC Wire and the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, I welcome posts from anyone who has seen the technology or has observations about the state of the art in free space optics.

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