NTT DATA has showcased its latest research into IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) technologies, which are being developed by NTT in collaboration with various partners, at CES 2020. To accelerate this collaboration, NTT, Intel and Sony have announced the formation of the IOWN Global Forum. IOWN will move computing from the era of electronics into photonics, where optical networks run into, and through, integrated circuits.
NTT Group as a whole is investing ¥211.3 billion annually into its R&D efforts. The investment encompasses a wide range of technology research, from basic materials science to the development of deep learning technology and quantum computing. A key part of NTT’s research is advanced communications and computing, and this forms the core of the IOWN initiative.
NTT’s IOWN research will take technology beyond the current generation of telecommunications and computing, and into cutting edge photonics, large-scale digital twin simulations and next-generation ultra-realistic UI/UX.
Currently, photonics is used in fibre optics for the transmission of data. Through photonics-electronics convergence technologies, photonics will move into the processing of data too. There are three core benefits to using light (photons) instead of electronics (electrons) for processing:
1. Lower power consumption
2. High quality and high capacity
3. Low latency
It is estimated that data centres currently consume 1% of global electricity demand. This energy usage is forecast to increase dramatically – to as much as 10% of global electricity generation by 2030 – as we consume increasingly compute-intensive workloads, such as artificial intelligence-based services.
Tom Winstanley, Head of Innovation at NTT DATA UK, said: “Existing technology can only go so far. We need a radical shift in the design of hardware and software to be able to handle the immense data requirements of the products and services of the future. NTT DATA’s vision is for a completely connected world where ubiquitous high bandwidth and almost zero-latency connectivity means that we will deliver services which are far beyond current capabilities.
“At our R&D Forum, NTT Group demonstrated ultra-low-latency, uncompressed 8K video, side-by-side with current technology showing compressed video which had a 1.5-second delay. This delay might be fine for streaming a film, but not for carrying out remote robotic surgery.
“Innovation at this level needs new technology such as IOWN. Our vision of the future is one where fibre optic transmissions are brought right to the processing layer of the chip, almost completely removing latency and drastically cutting energy requirements.”
Simon Williams, CEO of NTT DATA UK, concludes: “IOWN demonstrates the long-term ethos of NTT Group when it comes to investment. It’s a technology on which we can build layers of services in emerging areas such as digital twin computing. IOWN is the catalyst that will drive us towards a smart world – smart cities, smart mobility and smart manufacturing. Using photonics, IOWN allows us to make this transition more sustainably.
“IOWN is about NTT and NTT DATA taking a stand and, through its R&D investment, working to realise a vision of our business in the 2030s and beyond, where technology becomes ever more embedded in our environment and in society.”