Sun receives research funding worth US $44.3 million
DARPA, the research projects agency of the US Department of Defense, has awarded Sun Microsystems $44.29m to fund research until 2013 for its Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication (UNIC) programme. Sun's research efforts will focus on Proximity Communication and optical chip-to-chip interconnectivity. It is hoped that these fast interconnects will one day turn networks of low-cost chips into virtual supercomputers, or "macrochips".
As early as 2003, Sun's CTO Greg Papadopoulos described microprocessors as a dying breed and claimed that the future belonged to the microsystem - Sun's description for its very high speed chip networks. In the same year, the firm revealed its Proximity Communications technique for transmitting data between semiconductor devices, based on the capacitive coupling of electrical fields. The Sedna research team under Dr. Hans Eberle has been working on the technology since that time .
IBM and Intel are also working on optical microchip interconnectivity. However, IBM's Zurich laboratory considers that optical interconnects will not be available until after 2015 in multi-chip modules (MCMs) for servers, and even "later, if ever", in on-chip devices.