Record-breaking Aussie boffins send 44.2 terabits a second screaming down 75km of fiber from single chip

Tech is perhaps five years away from actual deployment, we're told


Australian scientists say they have broken data communications speed records by shifting 44.2 terabits per second over 75km of glass fiber from a single optical chip.

The five-by-nine millimetre prototype gizmo is described as a micro-comb in a paper detailing its workings, published in Nature Communications on Friday. Light shone into the micro-comb is looped around a ring to produce 80 beams at various infrared wavelengths. Each beam carries a stream of data.

“The wavelengths produced from the chip are all correlated, so we can pack the individual data streams together very tightly, using almost all of the available spectrum,” Dr Bill Corcoran, first author of the study and a lecturer at Australia's Monash University, told The Register.

“This is where our 'ultradense' description comes from for the paper, it effectively shrinks down a rack of lasers into a chip to pack in as much data as possible.”

The team at Monash University, Swinburne University, and RMIT University, all Down Under, tested their chip by transmitting data over 75 kilometers of fiber optic cables to a receiver. The data here was “randomised test patterns” to stress-test the tech. The headline figure of 44.2Tbps is the raw bit rate, and adding overhead will slow it down, as the paper acknowledges:

We achieved a raw bitrate (line-rate) of 44.2 Tb/s, which translates to an achievable coded rate of 40.1 Tb/s (in B2B), dropping to 39.2 Tb/s and 39.0 Tb/s for the lab and field-trial transmission experiments, respectively.

“We used a next-generation optical modulation format with 500 gigabits-per-second per wavelength. With the 80 micro-comb wavelengths, this combined to form an optical super-channel, which added up to 40 terabits per second,” Corcoran said.

It’s not the first time researchers have experimented with micro-combs for broadband connectivity. Corcoran estimated the technology is maybe five years away from leaping from lab experiments to real-world commercial applications. Its uses in backbone links and global transit paths for the internet are obvious; it's a little much for your home broadband right now, though.

An HD image transmitted from SOLISS via the laser communication ©JAXA/Sony CSL

International space station connects 100Mbps symmetric space laser ethernet using Sony optical disc tech

READ MORE

“We’re currently getting a sneak-peek of how the infrastructure for the internet will hold up in two to three years’ time, due to the unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socialising and streaming,” Corcoran added in an announcement of the breakthrough. "It’s really showing us that we need to be able to scale the capacity of our internet connections.

“And it’s not just Netflix we’re talking about here – it’s the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away.”

But before then, boffins will have to figure out how to refine the system using modulators. “The next technological challenge is integrating the modulators – these are devices that take electrical information and put this onto light – with the micro-comb to really make this all work together on a chip-scale device,” Cocoran told El Reg.

“We've got a project that plans to pilot some of those technologies running right now, and there are other groups looking at different approaches to this. It's a bit of a race at the moment." ®


Other stories you might like

  • Verizon: Ransomware sees biggest jump in five years
    We're only here for DBIRs

    The cybersecurity landscape continues to expand and evolve rapidly, fueled in large part by the cat-and-mouse game between miscreants trying to get into corporate IT environments and those hired by enterprises and security vendors to keep them out.

    Despite all that, Verizon's annual security breach report is again showing that there are constants in the field, including that ransomware continues to be a fast-growing threat and that the "human element" still plays a central role in most security breaches, whether it's through social engineering, bad decisions, or similar.

    According to the US carrier's 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released this week [PDF], ransomware accounted for 25 percent of the observed security incidents that occurred between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, and was present in 70 percent of all malware infections. Ransomware outbreaks increased 13 percent year-over-year, a larger increase than the previous five years combined.

    Continue reading
  • Slack-for-engineers Mattermost on open source and data sovereignty
    Control and access are becoming a hot button for orgs

    Interview "It's our data, it's our intellectual property. Being able to migrate it out those systems is near impossible... It was a real frustration for us."

    These were the words of communication and collaboration platform Mattermost's founder and CTO, Corey Hulen, speaking to The Register about open source, sovereignty and audio bridges.

    "Some of the history of Mattermost is exactly that problem," says Hulen of the issue of closed source software. "We were using proprietary tools – we were not a collaboration platform before, we were a games company before – [and] we were extremely frustrated because we couldn't get our intellectual property out of those systems..."

    Continue reading
  • UK government having hard time complying with its own IR35 tax rules
    This shouldn't come as much of a surprise if you've been reading the headlines at all

    Government departments are guilty of high levels of non-compliance with the UK's off-payroll tax regime, according to a report by MPs.

    Difficulties meeting the IR35 rules, which apply to many IT contractors, in central government reflect poor implementation by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and other government bodies, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

    "Central government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to cover tax owed for individuals wrongly assessed as self-employed. Government departments and agencies owed, or expected to owe, HMRC £263 million in 2020–21 due to incorrect administration of the rules," the report said.

    Continue reading
  • Internet went offline in Pakistan as protestors marched for ousted prime minister
    Two hour outage 'consistent with an intentional disruption to service' said NetBlocks

    Internet interruption-watcher NetBlocks has reported internet outages across Pakistan on Wednesday, perhaps timed to coincide with large public protests over the ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    The watchdog organisation asserted that outages started after 5:00PM and lasted for about two hours. NetBlocks referred to them as “consistent with an intentional disruption to service.”

    Continue reading
  • Suspected phishing email crime boss cuffed in Nigeria
    Interpol, cops swoop with intel from cybersecurity bods

    Interpol and cops in Africa have arrested a Nigerian man suspected of running a multi-continent cybercrime ring that specialized in phishing emails targeting businesses.

    His alleged operation was responsible for so-called business email compromise (BEC), a mix of fraud and social engineering in which staff at targeted companies are hoodwinked into, for example, wiring funds to scammers or sending out sensitive information. This can be done by sending messages that impersonate executives or suppliers, with instructions on where to send payments or data, sometimes by breaking into an employee's work email account to do so.

    The 37-year-old's detention is part of a year-long, counter-BEC initiative code-named Operation Delilah that involved international law enforcement, and started with intelligence from cybersecurity companies Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, and Trend Micro.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022