June 1, 2005 – NEC Corp. has developed a photoelectric converter that is smaller than a 1 yen coin, enabling it to be integrated on the circuit boards used in routers and servers, which makes it possible to interconnect the chips on these boards with optical fibers instead of copper wires, according to Nikkei English News.
NEC’s new photoelectric converter measures 14mm square and 2mm thick. In addition to being around one-tenth the size of other photoelectric converters, it costs less than one-tenth as much to make. Moreover, it can attach to as many as four optical fibers.
Photoelectric converters change electric signals into optical signals. The converters are already used to interconnect devices with optical lines for high-speed data transfers. But because these converters tend to be around the size of a business card, they have been too large to integrate on circuit boards. As a result, designers have had to settle for copper wires to interconnect chips, even though wires can only transmit data at around one-hundredth the speed of optical fiber.
NEC developed this device on behalf of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology and aims to have a practical version ready within the year.
The Japan Printed Circuit Association intends to promote NEC’s photoelectric converter as the industrial standard and ultimately aims to make it the global standard.