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Optical DSP makes commercial debut

14 Oct 2003

This week, an Israeli firm is unveiling what it says is the world’s first commercially available optical digital signal processor.

Lenslet of Israel is unveiling what it claims is the world’s first commercially-available optical digital signal processor (DSP) this week. The company says its EnLight256 can perform 1012 operations per second, which is around 3 orders of magnitude better that current state-of-the-art DSPs.

“We are showing a working prototype at the MILCOM exhibition in Boston, US, this week,” Caron Tal from Lenslet told Optics.org. “People can now purchase a demonstrator to evaluate the technology and start developing applications.” The company says its device is ideal for performing computation-intensive tasks in military, multimedia and communication applications.

EnLight’s enormous processing power comes from an electro-optical computing core that uses photons instead of electrons to perform mathematical algorithms. After the computation, the optical output is converted back to a digital electronic form.

The core contains an array of 256 vertical-cavity surface emitting lasers, a spatial light modulator and a series of lenses and detectors. Tal says the two main challenges have been developing a high-performance spatial light modulator and packaging all the components together to give an electro-optical core capable of performing complex algorithms accurately.

According to Lenslet, in a single 8 nanosecond clock period, the core can multiply a 256-byte vector by a 256 x 256 matrix. This equals a processing speed of 8 x 1012 operations per second, so called 8-Tera performance.

“We are now looking to increase the processing speed and reduce the produce size, eventually to a multi-chip integrated module,” said Tal.

The Enlight256 will be on display at several tradeshows in Japan and Singapore and further information is available from the company.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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