Optical processors: a promising future

Although when talking about chips we always think of semiconductors, research of optical processors It is another branch that, as we have seen in recent years, may have a great future, in which it could even replace, in the medium term, silicon-based integrated systems for certain uses. We are not talking about a new technology, in fact we have been reporting on it for years, and giants like Intel have already been researching in this field for some time.

However, although the big tech companies have this technology on their radar, other companies, specialized ones, are making the greatest progress. And it is logical, of course, at the end of the day they have turned into that specific area and, therefore, they are the most normal that they surprise us with their advances in optical processors. This is the same that occurs in many other areas, and that on many occasions ends with the purchase, by some of the large technology companies, of these smaller and more specialized ones.

Such could be, without a doubt, the case of Lightelligence, and it is that as we can read in Techpowerup, This company has managed to create an integrated capable of multiplying the performance of GPUs by one hundred for certain complex mathematical operations. With this fully functional prototype, it is shown that the evolution of optical processors is progressing at a very good pace and that, therefore, we can already be relatively close to devices designed for specific purposes that could be based on this technology.

Specifically, the Lightelligence proposal regarding optical processors has been used to perform calculations based on the Ising Model, a physical model dedicated to studying the behavior of ferromagnetic materials, and in this case it has been used to try to understand phase transitions. With this test, the development of demonstrated that in solving problems of the NP-complete complexity class could be 100 times faster than an RTX 3080 GPU, which is already tremendously efficient in this field.

More and more voices affirm that optical processors, and later optical computing systems, will be great allies of artificial intelligence, precisely because of his great ability to solve complex mathematical operations, thus ahead of integrated FPGAs in terms of performance (not that of price, of course, at least in the short and medium term). And it is that, no matter how fast semiconductors and superconductors are, the speed of transmission of photons remains, and as far as we know this will not change, unattainable by any other means.

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