Due to recent advancements in custom cable assemblies technology, it is now possible to travel at near light speed! Cable engineers have constructed fiber optic cables that can allow data to scoot along at 99.7% of light speed, thereby completely eliminating the lag times that are currently plaguing the standard technology as it exists in the market today. While there is still a lot of data signal loss problems that will need to be overcome, this research may be an incredibly important step towards the transmission of data with low latency.
As the name implies, optic fibers are able to achieve such high speeds because they transmit information on beams of light. Signals do not actually travel at 300,000 kilometers per second, the speed of light in a vacuum, because the light must travel through a medium. For instance, when light travels through glass, the speed is reduced to about 200,000 kps. According to the published notes, light travels through silica glass, the material that composes optical cable, at 31% light speed. This reduction in speed compromises latency.
The research that led to this technology was conducted at the University of Southampton in England. Engineers there solved the problem of latency versus speed by removing glass from the optical fibers. In turn, this resulted in what is known as a hollow core fiber. Since the beam of light mostly travels through air (as a result of the hollow core), it is free to follow the various twists and curves of the cable.
According to the researchers, these methods resulted in a loss of data of 3.5 dB/km, which is impressively low, especially considering the low latency achieved. Unfortunately, for transmissions over long distances the loss of data is still too significant to be reliable for most uses. It will still be some time before these cables will be used by ISP providers or for trans-ocean use.
The cables tested were able to use large bandwidth channels to transmit up to thirty-seven streams accommodating 40 gigabits of data per second. This resulted in a total signal capacity of 1.48 Terabits per second. Using a wave division multi-plexing algorithm, this capacity was pushed to 73.7 Terabits per second!
Even given the current data loss rate, this research suggests that the technology is adequate for low latency requirements over short ranges. These will be incredibly important with proposed future supercomputers and data mega centers. For instance, research on exaflop super computers suggests that this technology is ideal to transmit signals between two servers in close proximity with each other.
To achieve these longer range transmissions in the future, further research will be needed to reduce data losses due to surface scattering in order to achieve latency of below 0.2 dB/km. Additionally, the processing capacity at the endpoints of the transmission lines and at routers might also pose a problem. The empirical transmission speeds will be far limited by the capabilities at these nodes.
For a thorough analysis on the latest cabling technologies available for your next product or systems design, contact LoDan Electronics today!