How fast is your internet speed? Try 57Gbps for size

25 Mar 2016

Engineers in the US have set a new data transfer record of 57Gbps at room temperature, using a new efficient laser that could drastically improve industrial-level transfers in years to come.

How fast is your internet speed? Probably packaged as a couple of hundred Mbps, if you’re on mobile then more than likely far less. You could check out your machine’s performance right now, but you’ll likely be disappointed.

That’s because the new record for fibre-optic data transfer has just been set at 57Gbps, meaning you could download movies and music quicker than you could even find them online.

Researchers at the University of Illinois set the new record at room temperature, using a new ‘vertical-cavity, surface-emitting laser’ – this is a specialised diode that is known to have far better efficiency than other widely-used lasers.

Regular record setters

Prof Milton Feng and his colleagues had set the previous record at 40Gbps two years ago, with the team’s latest achievement perhaps paling in comparison to the 1.125Tbps recorded last month by London engineers.

However, that was in a lab, over zero distance, which is the most favourable environment possible. Feng’s work, at room temperature, over distance, is a far more tangible accomplishment.

The 57Gbps drops to 50Gbps when the temperature rises to 85oC, but that’s still an immense internet speed should it be adapted accordingly, outstripping the average user’s most extreme requirements.

Temperature is a major obstacle for engineers in this field as the longer components are working, the greater the heat, making for an erratic environment – picture your laptop burning your lap after an hour or so. This requires more bandwidth to counteract the inefficient environment.

This is why one of the most important aspects of data centres is their cooling systems, so the ability to transfer data right up to 85oC, at 50Gbps, is huge.

“This type of technology is going to be used not only for data centres, but also for airborne, lightweight communications, like in airplanes, because the fibre-optic wires are much lighter than copper wire,” Feng said.

“We believe this could be very useful for industry. That’s what makes the work so important to us.”

Speed image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic