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Engineers Shatter Fiber Optic Speed Record at 22.9 Petabits Per Second

There is enormous interest in space-based internet, but the web wouldn't work without its fiber optic backbone. These cables are ideal for shuffling large volumes of data around, and it's a relatively future-proof technology. Engineers in Japan have created a single fiber optic cable capable of transmitting data at an astonishing 22.9 petabits per second. That's about 20 times more than all global internet traffic collectively.

This record was set by researchers at Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and it's not the first time they have tinkered with ultra-fast fiber. The same team previously set a record with 10.66 petabits per second and has now doubled the ceiling with the new cable.

Most fiber optic cabling operating today has a bandwidth maximum of around 100 gigabits per second. This far outstrips copper cables, most of which top out at several hundred megabits. However, some newer copper installations can manage a gigabit or more, even if ISPs rarely deliver that. That's why fiber has become the preferred way to build out wireline networks, and the NICT work shows this technology will probably be the best way to deliver connectivity for the foreseeable future.

The cable designed at NICT has the same components as standard fiber optics, but more cores are stacked tightly inside the sheath. The current version has 38 cores inside, each transmitting between 0.3 and 0.7 petabits per second. To increase total bandwidth, the team utilized Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) and Space Division Multiplexed (SDM) data channels. Each core can operate in three modes, giving the cable 114 spatial channels. NICT says the complete cable has 293 wavelength channels in the S-band and 457 in the C and L-bands, which works out to a total frequency bandwidth of 18.8THz.

So, this proof-of-concept cable far surpasses current internet capacity, but we'll get there. And there's still room to grow, according to the NICT researchers. With some minor code tweaks, the team expects this cable can be boosted to 24.7 petabits per second. This approach could also be scaled to deliver even more bandwidth—internet traffic is predicted to increase by 1,000 times in the future, and this technology has the potential to keep up.

Do you get enough fiber in your diet?Do you get enough fiber in your diet?


As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
4 Replies
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This is wild. I can't imagine how multi-gigabit internet would perform, and these wizards are pushing petabits. Where I live 1gigabit down and 60megabit up, is the absolute max speed available.

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That's absolutely impressive. Maybe someday we'll have that sort of speed for consumer at an affordable cost within my lifetime.

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If you associate cost to the amount of data you can download, then it will be relatively cheap.  Most of us wouldn't mind a doubling or tripling of our current download and upload speeds, but some of us remember the days of 300 baud dial-up modems.  I am amazed at how far we have come since then.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

My first comment is:  Who said Moore's Law was dead?

Although I will never see anything close to this since we just got DSL a couple of years ago.  But this is phenomenal.  I can only dream of petabit / sec download speeds and will likely never get that experience.  So much for rural America.

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