Friday, April 27, 2007

Sun spins its wireless chip link

I wasn't able to attend the open house at Sun Labs Thursday, but I did see the event included mention of a new twist on the group's research on its Proximity interconnect. Proximity is a capacitive coupling technique originally intended for use linking processors inside a supercomputer. The project seems to have gone through a makeover since Sun lost its bid to build for DARPA a prototype system using Proximity.

At yesterday's event Sun discussed Project Sedna, a multi-terabit data center interconnect based on Proximity. The R&D project is aimed at “future data center interconnects that scale to thousands of compute nodes and to bandwidths of tens of terabits-per-second,” according to description on the Sun Labs Web site. It suggests Sun researchers are extending the chip-to-chip Proximity links into a broader systems switch fabric. The technology “will drive the convergence of today's network and storage architectures towards a single networking infrastructure,” Sun claims.

In the past, Sun has said getting proper alignment of the capacitive coupling links was one of its chief challenges. It will be interesting to see whether it can solve this problem and extend the technique into use beyond a CPU cluster, possibly surpassing the work chip makers such as IBM are doing with chip-level 3-D interconnects. If anyone had a chance to burrow into the details of Project Sedna at the event, please post us an update here.

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