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Software Algorithm Achieves Record-Breaking Optical Communication Speed for Data Centers

Apr 25th, 2016

An astonishing new world record speed for optical data center communications has been accomplished in Hong Kong. The new record of 240 Gbps allows up to 10,000 people to stream 4k video simultaneously, providing a vast improvement over the current technology which can only accommodate 400 people.

Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in collaboration with Huawei Technologies Co., achieved this new record by developing a software algorithm that interacts with signals in optical data centers. The software can dramatically reduce the costs in data centers since it will provide performance up to 24 times faster than the current technology without any equipment upgrades.

How does it work?

The new technology addresses the issues of distorted signals in optical fiber communications that can arise at high speeds and long distances. When light is reflected and refracted by optical fibers as it travels through the cable, some signal distortion is possible when the light reaches the receiver. Until now, this issue has always been addressed with expensive hardware upgrades and specialized optical fiber. How could such a huge boost in speed result from a software-only solution? Simply put, the way the algorithm solves this problem is to use statistical big data analysis to recover scrambled data and undo the distortion.

With the ever-increasing demands placed on data centers from applications such as 4k streaming and big data, this boost in speed would allow data centers to meet their needs effectively at a lower cost. Given the fact that data centers function as the backbone – and often the bottleneck – for global internet traffic, this advancement could usher in a new era for telecommunications.

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