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Dramatically Faster Computer Chip Could Revolutionize Internet and Satellite CapabilitiesAired April 6, 2000 - 8:22 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: Advances in high-speed technology are constantly improving the way we send and receive information. Now a dramatically faster computer chip designed to work with fiberoptics could one day revolutionize Internet and satellite capabilities.
CNN science correspondent Ann Kellan explains.
ANN KELLAN, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tired of waiting for a file to download? This new plastic chip could help speed up traffic on the information highway, so much so we may one day be able to send 3-D holograms, like those in Star Trek's holodeck.
BILL STEIER, UNIV. OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Everyone wants to the Internet faster, wants to get their downloads faster, and lots of information in a short length of time.
KELLAN: The designers call it the "optochip." Here's how it could help unclog telecommunications networks. Information on the Internet or from a phone conversation starts as an electronic signal. Once it leaves your home, it gets switched into a lightbeam to travel across speedy fiberoptic networks. But switching from electric to light can slow things up. The new chip does it five to 10 times faster than existing technology. How it does it is still a secret.
STEIER: The bottleneck has been taking the data demands and modulating them onto the fiber. This device we're talking about solves that bottleneck problem.
KELLAN: Before you get too excited, you'll need a high speed connection to the Internet like DSL or cable modem for the "optochip" to help. But developers hope to find commercial uses for the chip, from companies that move vast amounts of data across the globe to the aerospace industry and the military, to help satellites talk to one another. The "optochip" isn't the only switching technology in town.
GORDON THOMAS, PHYSICIST: There is an exciting race going on between these people making these optical switches out of plastic and the people making the optical switches out of crystal, and what these guys are reporting is that the plastic guys have made a very significant advance. KELLAN: Unlike "Star Trek," centuries into the future of science fiction, we're still a long way away from absolutely lifelike images of a holodeck, but the "optochip" brings us one step closer to the day we can make it so.
Ann Kellan, CNN, Atlanta.
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