Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

IBM Studio Opens in Shanghai

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IBM has launched IBM Studio – Shanghai, where IBM design and digital experts will work with clients to help them engage with customers using big data, mobile, cloud and social innovations.

Based at IBM’s Yangpu and Zhangjiang offices, the Studio will be the hub of IBM Design in Shanghai, hosting local teams from IBM Interactive Experience, the largest global digital agency, plus designers developing IBM software products and platforms for digital discovery and marketing engagement.

"People’s expectations of enterprise technology has changed because of great design they see in devices and apps they use at work and at play," said Phil Gilbert, General Manager, IBM Design, "Our studios around the world bring design into everything we do and change the way we work to transform how enterprise technology is created, with client experience at the center."

The studio join more than 20 IBM Studios around the world including Austin, London, Dublin,Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Toronto, Madrid, Sao Paolo and more, where cross-functional teams collaborate on projects to support the growing demand for data-driven experiences.

User experience design and personalization are driving product development and digital engagement at IBM, as exceptional customer experiences create value for IBM clients.

The Studios apply the principles of IBM Design Thinking, which takes a rapid prototyping approach to user-centric product development, as well as IBM Design Language, a framework to inspire bold and engaging experiences.

More details about the IBM Studios can be found at www.ibm.com/studios.

Written by TurboTodd

May 26th, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Texas Flood

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It’s an amazing thing to see Central Texas, and the Austin area in particular, go from breaking a years-long drought in a single month, but that’s precisely what has happened since early May.

We’ve now had nearly 18 inches of rain in Austin in may 2015, which sets a new record. But it has certainly come at a price.

Last evening, my wife and I watched on TV as an area just a little under a mile away from us in the Shoal Creek area west of downtown was completely flooded. There were a number of water rescues going on around town. And there were small tornadoes popping up all around the Austin area.

But it was Hayes County south of Austin that bore the worst brunt of the Memorial Day Weekend storms, including the small towns of Blanco and Wimberley, which were inundated by the raging and rising Blanco River and tragically killed several and wiped out hundreds of homes.

And forecasts show the weather patterns extending into June will bring even more southern Gulf moisture over Texas.

It brings to mind the old blues classic originally written by Larry Davis and Joe Scott, and later revamped by Stevie Ray Vaughan, whose statue on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin last evening had water well over his boots:

Well there’s floodin’ down in Texas
All of the telephone lines are down
Well there’s floodin’ down in Texas
All of the telephone lines are down
And I’ve been tryin’ to call my baby.
Lord and I can’t get a single sound

Written by TurboTodd

May 26th, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Happy Birthday, PacMan, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde

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The 80’s stalwart Pac-Man game turns 35 today.

I will wish Pac-Man a Happy Birthday, but with reservations.

Though Pac-Man was certainly a mainstay for us Gen Xers who honed our teeth stand-up video machines that ate beastly amounts of quarters, I was more of an Asteroids man myself.

Sometimes I’d even take a whack at Defender.

I guess the closest I ever came to being a Pac-Man man was Donkey Kong. And that’s not because I was really any good at Donkey Kong — it’s just one of my friends hacked the system at our local Taco Bueno and figured out how to get free plays from the thing.

I’m no better at jumping over barrels 35 years ago than I was when I was a wee lad.

Ah, but that doesn’t mitigate the nostalgia.

I came of age at a time when the video game literally was largely coming into being. I played the original Pong on a black and white TV set at a friend’s house, and I was beyond jealous when some other friends got an Atari 2600.

Despite its heavy pixellation and simplicity, that 2600 had some seriously addictive game play, and without question paved the way for the mind-blowing games we have today.

Though I was never a guru even at my beloved Asteroids, my affinity for gaming never really faded away. To whit, I decided over the holidays to give myself a gift of the new Sony PSP4.

It came wrapped with the far-out space adventure Destiny, but I wanted to shoot some things, so I invested in “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”

Once I cranked into the game and got a few levels in, I just started laughing at the thought of how far the gaming industry had come.

How far silicon processing power had come.

How far software programming and languages had come.

How far graphics processing.

All of it.

So, hats off to PacMan, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde and Namco for introducing “pac-dots” to the world. You created a great, friendly alternative to the classic early shooters.

I would stop long enough to ponder what you might have looked like up on the PSP4 bigscreen, but I’m too busy saving the world and blowing —- up in an onscreen reality that makes Space Invaders appear an invader from another gaming galaxy far, far away.

Which, of course, it is.

Written by TurboTodd

May 22nd, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Posted in videogames

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Survey Says IBM Most Popular Hosted Private Cloud Provider

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IBM is the most popular provider of hosted private cloud according to a survey from independent research firm Forrester Research.

IBM hosted private cloud solutions are preferred twice as much as competitive offerings.

Forrester Research found that more than twice as many firms use or plan to use IBM as their primary hosted private cloud platform, and nearly twice as many firms use or plan to use IBM when implementing multiple vendor cloud solutions, compared to the next closest competitor in the survey.

The survey also reported that the top drivers in choosing to adopt hosted private cloud include improved IT infrastructure and flexibility, lower total cost of ownership for servers, on-demand capacity and scalability, and improved disaster recovery and business continuity.

The report, “Adoption Profile: Hosted Private Cloud, North America and Europe, Q3 2014,” was based on a survey of 2,255 business and technology decision-makers.

Forrester defines hosted private cloud as a category of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) where the solution lives off-premises in a hosted environment and compute resources are dedicated and isolated for customers.

One concern for choosing to adopt hosted private cloud according to the report was vendor lock-in. The report found that “standards like OASIS’s TOSCA and open source projects like OpenStack provide enterprises the future hope of less lock-in and greater adherence to standards.”

IBM is a leading supporter of open cloud computing and a key contributor of code for OpenStack Integrated Projects and Cloud Foundry.

IBM total cloud revenue – covering public, private and hybrid engagements – was $7.7 billion over the previous 12 months at the end of March 2015; it grew more than 60 percent in first quarter 2015. IBM’s cloud delivered as a service business, a subset of the total, includes IaaS.

For more information about cloud offerings from IBM, visit http://www.ibm.com/cloud

Written by TurboTodd

May 20th, 2015 at 2:12 pm

IBM Invests in WayBlazer, Sellpoints to Advance Watson Powered Apps

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IBM today announced two new investments in WayBlazer and Sellpoints to advance online travel and shopping apps powered by Watson.

Today’s announcement is part of IBM’s $100 million commitment to drive new innovations and business solutions that build on Watson and follows the company’s recent investments in Modernizing Medicine and Pathway Genomics.

The financial terms of IBM’s investments were not disclosed.

WayBlazer, a travel search and discovery company, is applying the power of cognitive computing to redefine how consumers plan, personalize and purchase travel.

WayBlazer’s Discovery Engine uses Watson technology to absorb massive amounts of data, while linking places, offers, and preferences, with social, cultural and economic data for recommendations tailored to each consumer.

The company is led by industry visionary Terry Jones who founded Travelocity and was founding chairman of Kayak. The IBM investment is part of a $5 million Series A funding round for WayBlazer.

Sellpoints, a provider of e-commerce and customer engagement solutions, has introduced Natural Selection, a new app powered by IBM Watson that helps users to better understand individual shopper preferences and intent.

Instead of complicated questions or surveys, the app allows consumers to ask questions in natural language, quickly returning a set of relevant and personalized offers in just two taps or clicks.

For example, when a shopper searches for a product, such as “My second grader needs help learning math basics,” the app returns product results sorted by relevance, increasing conversion rates for the retailer.

To this end, Sellpoints is developing a new shopping experience with Nicole Miller which will allow consumers to leverage Watson to discover collections that are suitable for their needs. IBM’s investment is part of a $7.5 million Series C funding round for Sellpoints.

On average, consumers explore 20 or more websites to research destinations, flights, hotels, and activities, while weighing personal preferences and insights from social networks, online review sites and more.

Using the cognitive power of IBM Watson, WayBlazer is developing intelligent discovery solutions that deliver contextual, personalized advice and insights for consumers across all phases of travel, from inspiration to transaction – transforming the way travelers seek advice with a trusted travel discovery experience that can be individualized for every user, every time.

IBM continues to advance and invest in Watson as a core technology and open cloud development platform and has welcomed more than 270 new commercial partners to the Watson Ecosystem.

The company delivers this innovation through the Watson Zone on Bluemix, a digital innovation hub that enables developers to tap into Watson services and rapidly build, deploy and manage apps across any combination of public, private and hybrid cloud.

Tens of thousands of developers, entrepreneurs, data hobbyists, students and others have already built thousands of apps using the IBM Watson technology on Bluemix.

IBM Delivers Broadest Set of OpenStack Services

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IBM today announced an expanded suite of OpenStack services that allow customers to integrate applications and data across hybrid clouds including public, dedicated and local cloud environments without the fear of vendor lock-in or costly customization

The new IBM Cloud OpenStack Services enable clients and developers to build applications that deliver security and scalability to meet fluctuating business demands in a public cloud.

This includes spikes in usage and big data requirements. Combined with IBM’s existing offerings, clients and developers now have access to the broadest set of OpenStack services.

Through the IBM Cloud OpenStack Services, developers and clients will be able to launch applications on local, on-premises installations and now on public clouds hosted on the SoftLayer infrastructure.

This can all be done without changing code or configurations. As a result, developers can now build and test an application in a public cloud and use the interoperability of OpenStack to seamlessly deploy that same application and data across hybrid clouds including public, dedicated and local.

"Open technologies are paving the way for broader cloud adoption and enabling companies like Virdata to confidently deploy clouds without the fear of vendor lock-in," said Martin Braem, Virdata Lead for DevOps, Support and Professional Services. "IBM Cloud OpenStack Services gives us the ability to easily move OpenStack workloads across hybrid clouds."

With cloud adoption on the rise, major business complexities are being formed as hundreds of clouds are created without the means to integrate applications and access data located in multiple locations, including their traditional data centers.

To address this, IBM has 500 developers dedicated to working on open cloud projects to bring new cloud innovations to market. Today, IBM is the only cloud provider to combine OpenStack for hybrid clouds including public, dedicated and local.

The new public cloud services that are in beta today bring new capabilities to better serve developers and our clients with the following:

  • Expanding Access to Public Cloud: By extending its OpenStack services to the public cloud, IBM will provide a complete portfolio of hybrid OpenStack services that span across public, dedicated and local clouds. This will allow companies to deploy and integrate application environments in minutes versus days or weeks traditionally experienced by clients.
  • Speed and Security: IBM Cloud OpenStack Services will enable clients to quickly deploy an integrated and highly-secure cloud that is built on a strong foundation of security. This will provide companies with the means to monitor their cloud environment and security controls to assist businesses run workloads on trusted hardware.
  • Network of Data Centers: Developers will be able to quickly set up and scale applications and deliver them to any OpenStack Powered Platform. As part of this, IBM will manage the OpenStack environment and the infrastructure, hosted in IBM’s global cloud data centers. This will allow developers and clients to better manage workloads including hosted enterprise applications, analytics, and web and mobile applications.

Today’s announcement reinforces IBM’s commitment to open cloud services, where these offerings can be consumed though Bluemix and SoftLayer.

Through these IBM OpenStack Services that users can experience here, companies will be able to launch applications on local, on-premises installations, and on public, dedicated and local clouds hosted on the IBM Cloud infrastructure.

“As a top contributor to OpenStack, IBM firmly believes that an open cloud architecture translates into significant cost savings for our clients and will rapidly expand the cloud marketplace,” said IBM Vice President of Cloud Architecture and Technology Dr. Angel Diaz. “By delivering a complete portfolio of OpenStack services to the market, we are enabling our clients with what they need to quickly move applications and data across multiple cloud environments without fear of getting locked into a single cloud environment.”

Today’s announcement builds on IBM’s on going leadership within the OpenStack community. In fact, for Kilo, OpenStack’s latest release, IBM:

  • Had hundreds of developers participate in 11,676 code reviews
  • Implemented 68 blueprints
  • Fixed 520 bugs for a total of 232,382 lines of code

One of IBM’s most important contributions to OpenStack is enabling clients to continue to benefit from the interoperability of OpenStack environments through our leadership in the development of the compliance test tool – RefStack-client.

For more information about cloud offerings from IBM, visit http://www.ibm.com/cloud.


Written by TurboTodd

May 19th, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Not So Deadheads

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You gotta love this New York Time’s piece about the coming and allegedly final Grateful Dead concerts in Chicago over this coming Fourth of July weekend.

Deadheads who used to climb into the back of VW buses and who created their own floating Grateful Dead sub–economies and cultures to sustain their Grateful Dead following lifestyles are now staying at the Four Seasons and flying to the shows in Gulfstream jets.

As someone who spent quite a few years in and around some hard-core Deadheads at my college fraternity, and who was fortunate enough to attend one single Grateful Dead show, I can attest to this fact: There was never before then, nor ever since, as singularly unique an experience as that concert (and I suspect I may have been the only one in attendance not under the effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide!)

It was without question the most tribal and primal experience of my then short lived life, from the traveling Grateful Dead street economy outside the venue to the vast breadth of musical exploration by Garcia, Wier et al on the actual stage to the tens of thousands of people dancing rhythmically together in near perfect unison.

I almost remember it clearly nearly 23 years later.

And yes, it’s even more difficult to believe it’s been 20 years Jerry Garcia left earth’s stage.

Buut he and "The Dead" created a magnificent wake of breakthroughs that continued to create behind them, musically and otherwise.

The Dead predated the advent of the commercial Internet, and their willingness to allow liberal free taping and sharing of their musical concerts was a forecast of the music industry post-Napster and all things file sharing and streaming.

Me, I’d love to see one of those last shows in Chicago — it’s going to be quite the scene.

But I have a feeling someone, somewhere will have a Periscope or Meerkat stream pointing their way so I can see the show for free, and if that’s perfectly fine with who’s left from The Dead, it’s good enough for me.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

"Truckin’" — The Grateful Dead

[categories music hollywood]

Written by TurboTodd

May 15th, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Why I’m Waiting for the Apple Watch

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I posted on Facebook this past weekend that I had made an appointment at my local Apple Store to go in and check out the Apple Watch.

I got all kinds of fun comments from the Facebook peanut gallery. “Don’t be that guy!” I joked in return, “I’ve always been that guy.” I have.

I bought the first iPad after I said I wouldn’t. I think I did wait on the second gen for the Macbook Air, but I was glad I did, as it’s turned out to be the best computer I’ve ever owned (go SSID or go home!).

I wasn’t even going to bother looking at the Apple Watch until I heard that it would work with my iPhone 5s (I thought they had originally said it would only work with the iPhone 6 or 6+.)

But when I heard it worked with the 5s…well, boy howdy, there’s a new toy waitin’ at the Apple store for Turbo to try on!

And I was kinda sorta gonna head in the direction the mall where the store was located anyways.

I was early for my appointment. The store actually wasn’t as mobbed as I expected it to be.

The nice Apple “genius” unlocked a drawer and pulled out the Apple Watch at the appointed time. I tried on the black sports band version with the larger watch face (the $400 one vs. the $350 one). I wasn’t exactly impressed with the genius’ sales job, or lack thereof. I guess she assumed because I was there and I had made an appointment, that it was already a fait accompli that I was going to order one.

There really wasn’t much of an explanation by said genius as to what all the Apple Watch could do or how it could improve my life. And, it was a “canned” demo, the most exciting part of which was feeling the “taptic” sensors on the bottom of the watch whenever an email came through.

To be fair, she did answer a few of the basic questions I had, but I guess the Apple Watch was supposed to sell itself.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely looking piece of technology. The design was gorgeous, as usual, and I didn’t even find the “crown” dial interface to be nearly as confusing as people online had made it out to be.

No, I just couldn’t for the life of me find the killer app that was going to change my life. I thought maybe talking into it all Dick Tracy-like might do the trick, but I figured it would get old talking to my wrist when I’ve got a perfectly good Plantronics Bluetooth headset.

Pretty much everything I can do on the Apple Watch I can do on my iPhone, based on having watched several of the videos on Apple’s web site.

Everything except for having those little sensors tapping at my wrist whenever I get a message.

Maybe I can duct tape my iPhone to my wrist and wait for it to vibrate whenever a message comes through. I can refer to it as “The Redneck Apple Watch.”

No, I think I’m going to do something I’m usually ill able to do when the latest and greatest technology comes along.

I’m going to wait.

Wait for more third party apps.

Wait for the killer app.

And definitely wait until the price goes down.

Or, maybe I’ll just wait until I can’t wait anymore.

Written by TurboTodd

May 14th, 2015 at 9:49 pm

More than 1,000 Organizations Join IBM to Battle Cybercrime

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IBM today announced that more than 1,000 organizations across 16 industries are participating in its X-Force Exchange threat intelligence network, just one month after its launch.

IBM X-Force Exchange provides open access to historical and real-time data feeds of threat intelligence, including reports of live attacks from IBM’s global threat monitoring network, enabling enterprises to defend against cybercrime.

IBM’s new cloud-based cyberthreat network, powered by IBM Cloud, is designed to foster broader industry collaboration by sharing actionable data to defend against these very real threats to businesses and governments.

The company provided free access last month, via the X-Force Exchange, to its 700 terabyte threat database – a volume equivalent to all data that flows across the internet in two days.

This includes two decades of malicious cyberattack data from IBM, as well as anonymous threat data from the thousands of organizations for which IBM manages security operations. Participants have created more than 300 new collections of threat data in the last month alone.

In the past month since the launch of IBM’s threat intelligence network, there have been more than 1,000 data queries per day from organizations around the world. These organizations include six of the world’s top 10 retailers and five of the top 10 banks, as well as the top 10 companies across the automotive, education and high-tech industries.

By freely consuming, sharing and acting on real-time threat intelligence from their networks and IBM’s own repository of threat intelligence, users can identify and help stop threats.

The IBM X-Force Exchange features a collaborative, social interface enabling users to easily interact with, and validate information from, industry peers, analysts and researchers.

Also with a library of APIs, security analysts can facilitate programmatic queries between the platform, machines and applications, helping businesses to operationalize threat intelligence and take action.

For example, a Fortune 1000 retail chain is using the X-Force Exchange to collect and analyze threat intelligence – streamlining from seven separate sources of threat data to just one – enabling the chain to significantly reduce the time required to identify and investigate each potential threat.

Community Approach to Threat Intelligence

Designed to help move the industry forward on threat intelligence sharing, IBM’s vast library of security intelligence data via IBM X-Force Exchange includes:

· One of the largest and most complete catalogs of vulnerabilities in the world;
· Threat information based on more than 15 billion monitored security events per day;
· Malware threat intelligence from a network of 270 million endpoints;
· Threat information based on over 25 billion web pages and images;
· Deep intelligence on more than 8 million spam and phishing attacks;
· Reputation data on nearly 1 million malicious IP addresses.

For more information, please visit: http://xforce.ibmcloud.com

Written by TurboTodd

May 14th, 2015 at 3:57 pm

IBM’s Silicon Photonics Technology To Speed Up Cloud And Big Data Applications

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IBM announced yesterday a significant milestone in the development of silicon photonics technology, which enables silicon chips to use pulses of light instead of electrical signals over wires to move data at rapid speeds and longer distances in future computing systems.

For the first time, IBM engineers have designed and tested a fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip, which will soon enable manufacturing of 100 Gb/s optical transceivers. This will allow datacenters to offer greater data rates and bandwidth for cloud computing and Big Data applications.

“Making silicon photonics technology ready for widespread commercial use will help the semiconductor industry keep pace with ever-growing demands in computing power driven by Big Data and cloud services,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “Just as fiber optics revolutionized the telecommunications industry by speeding up the flow of data — bringing enormous benefits to consumers — we’re excited about the potential of replacing electric signals with pulses of light. This technology is designed to make future computing systems faster and more energy efficient, while enabling customers to capture insights from Big Data in real time.” 

Silicon photonics uses tiny optical components to send light pulses to transfer large volumes of data at very high speed between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, overcoming the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects. 

IBM’s breakthrough enables the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

IBM’s silicon photonics chips uses four distinct colors of light travelling within an optical fiber, rather than traditional copper wiring, to transmit data in and around a computing system. In just one second, this new transceiver is estimated to be capable of digitally sharing 63 million tweets or six million images, or downloading an entire high-definition digital movie in just two seconds.

The technology industry is entering a new era of computing that requires IT systems and cloud computing services to process and analyze huge volumes of Big Data in real time, both within datacenters and particularly between cloud computing services.

This requires that data be rapidly moved between system components without congestion. Silicon photonics greatly reduces data bottlenecks inside of systems and between computing components, improving response times and delivering faster insights from Big Data.

IBM’s new CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology will provide a cost-effective silicon photonics solution by combining the vital optical and electrical components, as well as structures enabling fiber packaging, on a single silicon chip. Manufacturing makes use of standard fabrication processes at a silicon chip foundry, making this technology ready for commercialization.

Silicon photonics technology leverages the unique properties of optical communications, which include transmission of high-speed data over kilometer-scale distances, and the ability to overlay multiple colors of light within a single optical fiber to multiply the data volume carried, all while maintaining low power consumption.

These characteristics combine to enable rapid movement of data between computer chips and racks within servers, supercomputers, and large datacenters, in order to alleviate the limitations of congested data traffic produced by contemporary interconnect technologies.

Silicon photonics will transform future datacenters

By moving information via pulses of light through optical fibers, optical interconnects are an integral part of contemporary computing systems and next generation datacenters. Computer hardware components, whether a few centimeters or a few kilometers apart, can seamlessly and efficiently communicate with each other at high speeds using such interconnects.

This disaggregated and flexible design of datacenters will help reduce the cost of space and energy, while increasing performance and analysis capabilities for users ranging from social media companies to financial services to universities.

Most of the optical interconnect solutions employed within datacenters as of today are based upon vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) technology, where the optical signals are transported via multimode optical fiber.

Demands for increased distance and data rate between ports, due to cloud services for example, are driving the development of cost-effective single-mode optical interconnect technologies, which can overcome the bandwidth-distance limitations inherent to multimode VCSEL links.

IBM’s CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology provides an economical solution to extend the reach and data rates of optical links. The essential parts of an optical transceiver, both electrical and optical, can be combined monolithically on one silicon chip, and are designed to work with with standard silicon chip manufacturing processes.

IBM engineers in New York and Zurich, Switzerland and IBM Systems Unit have demonstrated a reference design targeting datacenter interconnects with a range up to two kilometers. This chip demonstrates transmission and reception of high-speed data using four laser “colors,” each operating as an independent 25 Gb/s optical channel.

Within a full transceiver design, these four channels can be wavelength multiplexed on-chip to provide 100 Gb/s aggregate bandwidth over a duplex single-mode fiber, thus minimizing the cost of the installed fiber plant within the datacenter.

Further details will be presented by IBM at the 2015 Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics(May 10-15) in San Jose, California, during the invited presentation entitled “Demonstration of Error Free Operation Up To 32 Gb/s From a CMOS Integrated Monolithic Nano-Photonic Transmitter,” by Douglas M. Gill, Chi Xiong, Jonathan E. Proesel, Jessie C. Rosenberg, Jason Orcutt, Marwan Khater, John Ellis-Monaghan, Doris Viens, Yurii Vlasov, Wilfried Haensch, and William M. J. Green. 

IBM Research has been leading the development of silicon photonics for more than a decade, announcing a series of technology milestones beginning in 2006. Silicon photonics is among the efforts of IBM’s $3 billion investment to push the limits of chip technology to meet the emerging demands of cloud and Big Data systems.

Written by TurboTodd

May 13th, 2015 at 8:11 pm

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