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Huge fat pipe squirts mighty streams

Magnificent 35-kilowrist performance

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An allied team of boffins based in Blighty, Germany, Switzerland and Israel say they have broken the record for data transmission rate from a single light source, using just one laser to send info at a blistering 26 terabits per second.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest line rate ever encoded onto a single light source," write the scientists, with pardonable smugness.

Even greater data rates have been achieved down a single fibre, but the trouble with these previous efforts is that they require the use of many lasers all squirting light into the pipe at different frequencies (colours). This means a lot of kit and a lot of power consumption.

The new technique involves using just one laser to create hundreds of colours at once, all of which can carry a stream of information. The data is combined and then separated out again at the other end using optical methods to implement a tricky piece of mathematics - the Fourier transform which some readers may recall from university days - extremely fast.

The scientists carrying out the experiment consider that pipe of multiterabit fatness will soon be routinely required by "new services such as cloud computing, three-dimensional high-definition television and virtual-reality applications". They think that their Fourier-transform rig could perhaps be integrated onto a chip, so making it a candidate for commercial use.

As the Beeb notes:

At those speeds, the entire Library of Congress collections could be sent down an optical fibre in 10 seconds.

But that's not what the internet of the future will be used for. It will, like the internet of today, probably be used mainly for pornography.

So: just how much smut could be handled by the new, unprecedentedly fat pipe?

Well, it's difficult to say in terms of hi-def 3D as there isn't much such content about yet. Let's instead go with a demanding present-day format: uncompressed 1080p HD video, which requires 746 megabits/sec. The profs' single laser, employed as a smut hose, would thus be able to simultaneously satisfy the demands of no less than 34,852 filth-hungry onanists - it is a 34.8 kilowrist pipe, in Reg units.

That's impressive.

The boffinry writeup on the new tech can be found here (subscription required) published by Nature Photonics. ®

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