Every now and then we hear about some new tech speed record being broken, and this has happened again, with boffins at the University College London announcing a new world record data transfer speed.
Researchers in UCL’s Optical Networks Group hit a rate of 1.125Tbps while probing the extreme ends of what’s possible with optical transmission systems.
That’s pretty darn fast, we don’t need to tell you, although the lead researcher, Dr Robert Maher, put it in terms we can all understand – with this connection, you’d be able to download the entire run of Game of Thrones in HD with the process taking less than a second.
And it’s 50,000 times faster (well, nearly) than your average UK superfast broadband connection, which Maher notes is defined as 24Mbps.
UCL noted that with this research, they used coding techniques which are common in wireless comms, but not yet widely employed in optical communications, to help ensure that transmitted signals adapted to distortions in the system.
The actual system they built to achieve these blazing speeds used 15 different channels, each carrying an optical signal of a different wavelength, combined together to create a ‘super-channel’.
Super-channels to the rescue
Maher commented: “Using high-bandwidth super-receivers enables us to receive an entire super-channel in one go. Super-channels are becoming increasingly important for core optical communications systems, which transfer bulk data flows between large cities, countries or even continents.
“However, using a single receiver varies the levels of performance of each optical sub-channel so we had to finely optimise both the modulation format and code rate for each optical channel individually to maximise the net information data rate. This ultimately resulted in us achieving the greatest information rate ever recorded using a single receiver.”
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the maximum speed hit was achieved with the transmitter connected directly to the receiver. Over a lengthy run of fibre, the transfer rate will obviously be slower, and the next stage of experimentation will involve testing out just how fast they can get things going over a long distance connection.
We certainly need fatter pipes in the future, with the likes of video streaming becoming more prevalent and of course with the arrival of more and more 4K content, for example.