processing, data storage, bandwidth, and ubiquitous connectivity that, in turn, drive global economic growth.

Key Finding: The growth in bandwidth demand over the next 10 years is expected to be at least another 100-fold, possibly much more. It is important to note that the previous 100-fold gain in capacity that came very naturally with wavelength division multiplexing has been used up; growth by means of higher bit rates per wavelength comes more slowly; hence without a new breakthrough, increases in data transmission capacity will stall.

Key Finding: Cloud services not only drive capacity demand, but also make critical the role of large data centers. This will usher in a new and important era for short-distance optical links in massive numbers to provide cost- and energy-efficient high-density interconnects inside data centers and in information processing systems generally.

Key Finding: Silicon-based photonic integration technologies offer great potential for short-distance applications and could have great payoff in terms of enabling continued growth in the function and capacity of silicon chips if optics for interconnection could be seamlessly included in the silicon CMOS platform. It is also highly likely that integrated optoelectronics is a critical development area with significant growth potential for continuing the advance of defense systems.

Finding: Nanophotonic technologies promise very compact and high-performance optics and optoelectronics that could allow such platforms to continue to scale to higher density and performance. Information processing in general and data centers will also require massive and exponentially growing data storage.

Finding: Magnetic storage will continue as the primary data storage technology, and optics-assisted magnetic techniques may play an important future role.

Finding: Communications networks and information processing consume a relatively small fraction of the global energy budget (approximately 2 percent). However, with the growing network demands, this percentage will likely grow significantly unless successful action is taken to reduce systems’ energy requirements.

Finding: Leveraging networks with applications like telepresence to reduce energy-hungry activity such as travel would reduce total energy consumption.

Finding: Optics has the potential to increase the energy efficiency in networks by, for example, replacing high-energy-loss electrical conductors in data centers and wireless backhaul or, perhaps, even on silicon chips.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement