Optics for the Cloud is a programme of research to advance and enable the adoption of optical technologies in the rapidly growing field of cloud computing. The scope of this opportunity includes storage, network, compute, memory and specialized accelerators. The research also spans the entire vertical stack, ranging from optical device fabrication, to optical system and sub-system design, to co-design and integration with the rest of the data center infrastructure and will include new applications enabled by optical technologies.
The world is moving to the cloud at an ever-increasing rate. Microsoft is at the core of this transformation and is continuously building new data centres to keep up with demand. However, most of the core technologies used in these centres today were designed or conceived before the cloud existed. Many of those technologies represent compromises, encumbered by historic design choices pertinent to an antiquated application, and encrusted with features appealing to the idiosyncrasies of many different scenarios. At the cloud scale, there is the scope to create cloud-specific technologies that free us from decades of legacy thinking.
At Microsoft Research Cambridge we are building a team to explore Optics for the Cloud. We believe that by taking a holistic view of the needs of the cloud we can create disruptive technologies for the cloud. To achieve this, we are assembling a highly inter-disciplinary team to ask the simple question – how can optics for the cloud change the cloud? We hope to invent optical end-to-end systems, across the three primary resources of storage, network and compute, that will underpin the next generation of the cloud.
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