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Shifting the Internet into high gear

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Posted March 27, 2013
Credit: 2013 EPFL

Credit: 2013 EPFL

A new-generation analog-to-digital converter (ADC) developed by a joint IBM-EPFL team has the potential to greatly increase the speed and volume of data that can be transferred over the Internet.

Images, audio, and video could soon travel through cyberspace much faster, using less energy, thanks to a new generation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) developed jointly by IBM and EPFL’s Microelectronics Systems Laboratory. This technological advance was presented recently at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, one of the most important annual international electronics conferences, in San Francisco.

ADCs are essential to electronics. Integrated into the chips on our computers and into optical fiber networks, they translate analog signals – images and sounds from the physical world in which we live – into digital information, that is, coded into a series of zeroes and ones. In this format the information can be read by and saved on computers.

There’s just one problem: the total volume of data transferred over the Internet is exploding – it’s estimated to be increasing by 60% every year. Current converters are simply not up to the task. “Most ADCs on the market are not designed for the volume of data that we’re seeing today,” explains Martin Schmatz, head of the Systems Department at the IBM Research Center. “It’s a bit like trying to force the flow of a firehose through a straw.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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