Japan telecom firm NTT unveils chip to boost the speed of communications

The logo of NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation) is displayed at the company office in Tokyo
The logo of NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation) is displayed at the company office in Tokyo, Japan September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

OAKLAND, Calif. Feb 23 (Reuters) - Japanese telecommunications NTT (9432.T) on Thursday unveiled a prototype chip that it believes will help boost communications speed in data centers and across undersea fiber optic cables in the future.

While the technology's release is still years out, the tiny chip would amplify a 100 Gigahertz (GHz) electrical signal, said Kazuhiro Gomi president and CEO at NTT Research, Inc. in Silicon Valley. NTT said its development will speed up the Internet for consumers and accelerate communication for data centers in the future.

Gomi added that amplifying the electrical signal is a key step in communications as a weak signal is hard to read. But the bigger the frequency, the harder it is to amplify because it requires a faster response time. A 100 GHz signal can be amplified in the lab setting, he said.

"That lab level achievement was implemented into a package that got very small. You can put it on your on your fingertip, basically. That Is that the key achievement," said Gomi.

Shrinking the device size is key to building it into communication devices, he said.

Gomi said the chip uses a relatively new material called indium phosphide rather than silicon.

This chip would be a key component to reaching 2 terabit per second speed (Tbps), he said. Today fiber optic communications happen at about 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps)speed and the industry is already transitioning to 400 Gbps and aiming to get to 1.2 Tbps, he said.

A 2 Tbps communication future is still six to seven years out as communication equipment using the new chip would have to be designed by other companies, Gomi said.

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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Reports on global trends in computing from covering semiconductors and tools to manufacture them to quantum computing. Has 27 years of experience reporting from South Korea, China, and the U.S. and previously worked at the Asian Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters TV. In her free time, she studies math and physics with the goal of grasping quantum physics.