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IBM breakthrough brings us one step closer to exascale computing, even more intense chess opponents

Darren Murph
The path to exascale computing is a long and windy one, and it's dangerously close to slipping into our shunned bucket of "awesome things that'll never happen." But we'll hand it to IBM -- those guys and gals are working to create a smarter planet, and against our better judgment, we actually think they're onto something here. Scientists at the outfit recently revealed "a new chip technology that integrates electrical and optical devices on the same piece of silicon, enabling computer chips to communicate using pulses of light (instead of electrical signals), resulting in smaller, faster and more power-efficient chips than is possible with conventional technologies." The new tech is labeled CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics, and if executed properly, it could lead to exaflop-level computing, or computers that could handle one million trillion calculations per second. In other words, your average exascale computer would operate around one thousand times faster than the fastest machine today, and would almost certainly give Garry Kasparov all he could stand. When asked to comment on the advancement, Dr. Yurii A. Vlasov, Manager of the Silicon Nanophotonics Department at IBM Research, nodded and uttered the following quip: "I'm am IBMer, and exascale tomfoolery is what I'm working on."*

*Not really, but you believed it, didn't you?