Japan researchers break another data speed record with 1.02 petabits per second fiber...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,521   +1,055
Staff member
Why it matters: Data transfer speeds over fiber optic cables seem relatively finite. After all, even light has a speed limit. There's only so much data that can be crammed into a light package and zipped across a line. However, this has not stopped scientists from looking for innovative ways to move more and more data.

On Monday, researchers at Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) broke another data-rate record, with an officially recorded speed of 1.02 petabits per second. This rate is 10 Tb/s faster than its previous high-data-rate test in December 2020. And it's more than three times faster than the long-distance test NICT performed last June.

To put that in perspective, the researchers pointed out that 1.02 Pb/s is equivalent to sending 127,500GB down the pipe every second or enough to facilitate more than "10 million channels of 8K broadcasting per second."

Whatsmore, the researchers say that the technique they used is compatible with existing fiber optic infrastructure, although it is modified for higher speeds and parallel transmission. The custom cable has four fiber optic cores rather than the single core of current lines. Despite this difference, data is only transmitted in one mode per core, meaning existing technology could be retrofitted to receive and read it.

Speeds are further enhanced using "wavelength division multiplexing" (WDM). Using WDM increases bandwidth to 20 THz. That pipe is divided into 801 wavelength channels over standard C- and L-bands and the experimental S-band. The team also used new optical amplification and signal modulation technologies to stabilize and amplify the signal.

Although the NICT didn't mention further tests, judging by its testing frequency, it's probably safe to expect another long-distance test in about six months. It's worth noting that the team's 319 Tb/s long-distance speed from last year used the same four-core technology as this one but at a bandwidth of only 13.8 THz. Perhaps the team will crank the bandwidth up to 20 THz for the next one and break yet another record.

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human7

Posts: 49   +33
It's always exciting to hear about these speed records being broken. Now we just need someone to come along and get these breakthroughs into real world infrastructure. Imagine 1 Tb/s being a speed offered to most people in the next 5 years. Too bad the ISPs aren't motivated enough to make it a reality. Maybe the combination of satellite based internet, 5G, and eventually 6G will force their hand.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,904   +7,878
After all, even light has a speed limit.

Uhhhh, I beg to differ. There was an article on this very site (and a number of others) that the "speed of light" actually had been increased by quite a bit in research labs (by I think Intel) but I can't remember by exactly who. The speed increase was not held for great amounts of time, but it reportedly did happen

Doesn't sound like the retrofit they speak of could be easily applied in all instances, but in any that it could it would certainly be beneficial.
 

human7

Posts: 49   +33
After all, even light has a speed limit.

Uhhhh, I beg to differ. There was an article on this very site (and a number of others) that the "speed of light" actually had been increased by quite a bit in research labs (by I think Intel) but I can't remember by exactly who. The speed increase was not held for great amounts of time, but it reportedly did happen

Doesn't sound like the retrofit they speak of could be easily applied in all instances, but in any that it could it would certainly be beneficial.

The speed of light in a vacuum can't be increased as far as I know. Maybe the idea was increasing speed of light through a particular substance? (light itself still travels around at the speed of light through a vacuum, it's just that bouncing around off the particles of whatever substance it is travelling through slows it down, but between those "bounces" it is at the full speed)

A lot of people think the speed of light is a kind of arbitrary limit that the universe puts on us heavy folk (anything that has mass, anyways) and that someday with the right technology we will bypass it. I hope that happens, but the speed of light isn't arbitrary, all massless particles travel at this speed: it's just that light happens to be the most visible (haha, see what I did there?) thing that travels at this speed.

And what's so special about 299,792,458 m/s? Well, it's that unit there on the end: a unit of distance divided by a unit of time. We live in 4 dimensional spacetime (at least), and this speed is not only a constant, it is *the* relationship between space and time. It's not just a speed limit that light happens to travel at. It not only is what defines the relationship between space and time, but it's also crucial to understanding the relationship between mass and energy (which are the same thing, but just different forms of expression of each other, so to speak).

The reason for the value of the speed of light, like all the other fundamental constants, remains a mystery.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,623   +1,621
Uhhhh, I beg to differ. There was an article on this very site (and a number of others) that the "speed of light" actually had been increased by quite a bit in research labs
You're probably thinking of experiments involving the group velocity of light -- which doesn't (and cannot) transmit information. The speed of light is inviolate, as far as we know.
 

YouShallNotPass

Posts: 40   +85
A lot of people think the speed of light is a kind of arbitrary limit that the universe puts on us heavy folk (anything that has mass, anyways) and that someday with the right technology we will bypass it.

Maybe the next step is to use quantum entanglement?

Instant flip of bits across super long distance.
Super secure against eavesdropping.
Most importantly, its wireless!
 

human7

Posts: 49   +33
Maybe the next step is to use quantum entanglement?

Instant flip of bits across super long distance.
Super secure against eavesdropping.
Most importantly, its wireless!
Quantum entanglement cannot be used to transfer information faster than the speed of light. But it can be used in other applications, like quantum cryptography. Here's a good explanation:
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,284   +836
Maybe the next step is to use quantum entanglement?

Instant flip of bits across super long distance.
Super secure against eavesdropping.
Most importantly, its wireless!
Quantum entanglement afaik cannot violate the transfer of information speed limit which is the speed of light. Meaning intercontinental data transfers will still have relatively high pings.

This is a huge problem for interstellar travel obviously. Entanglement won't help comms speeds.

Lacking a wire is nice but entanglement is still point to point.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 391   +187
The speed of light in a vacuum can't be increased as far as I know. Maybe the idea was increasing speed of light through a particular substance? (light itself still travels around at the speed of light through a vacuum, it's just that bouncing around off the particles of whatever substance it is travelling through slows it down, but between those "bounces" it is at the full speed)

A lot of people think the speed of light is a kind of arbitrary limit that the universe puts on us heavy folk (anything that has mass, anyways) and that someday with the right technology we will bypass it. I hope that happens, but the speed of light isn't arbitrary, all massless particles travel at this speed: it's just that light happens to be the most visible (haha, see what I did there?) thing that travels at this speed.

And what's so special about 299,792,458 m/s? Well, it's that unit there on the end: a unit of distance divided by a unit of time. We live in 4 dimensional spacetime (at least), and this speed is not only a constant, it is *the* relationship between space and time. It's not just a speed limit that light happens to travel at. It not only is what defines the relationship between space and time, but it's also crucial to understanding the relationship between mass and energy (which are the same thing, but just different forms of expression of each other, so to speak).

The reason for the value of the speed of light, like all the other fundamental constants, remains a mystery.

There is a new kind of 'lower-latency-fiber'.

Using it over the Atlantic we only clawed back a few ms and change.

The customer was delighted (expected result), we were indifferent.

But I guess a happy customer is all that matters.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,623   +1,621
There is a new kind of 'lower-latency-fiber'.
While the speed of light in vacuum is inviolate, the speed of light in other materials (like a fiber-optic cable) is divided by the material's refractive index -- inside a diamond, for instance, light travels about 2.5X slower.

In a normal glass fiber-optic cable, light travels about 1/3 slower (something many people don't realize). However, there's a lot of work being done on hollow-core fiber-optics, in which the light travels in air-- very nearly at full speed.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,284   +836
While the speed of light in vacuum is inviolate, the speed of light in other materials (like a fiber-optic cable) is divided by the material's refractive index -- inside a diamond, for instance, light travels about 2.5X slower.

In a normal glass fiber-optic cable, light travels about 1/3 slower (something many people don't realize). However, there's a lot of work being done on hollow-core fiber-optics, in which the light travels in air-- very nearly at full speed.
Ugh I didn't realise the fibre optic speed was so much slower than vacuum...