Opportunities and challenges for photonics in the cloud

Benn Thomsen, Microsoft Research, is to give a keynote speech at this year’s Future Photonics Hub Industry Day on Thursday, 20 September at the University of Southampton.

The speech, entitled ‘Opportunities and challenges for photonics in the cloud‘ will address how cloud computing is driving a phenomenal growth in data center computing and the network infrastructure that supports this.

Abstract: “The CMOS processing and magnetic storage technologies that underpins data centre computing, and the network infrastructure that supports it, is likely to come up against some hard physical limits in 1 to 3 technology generations from now.  Also, most technology used in data centers today was designed before the cloud existed and is hindered by its legacy design. Can photonics provide a solution to some of these challenges?

“At Microsoft we are inventing future, non-legacy-based technologies to empower the next generation of the cloud; by creating new types of storage, network and compute resources that exploit optics. In this talk I will try to put some of these challenges into context and give a glimpse into some of the things we are currently working on in the photonics space.”

Biography: Benn Thomsen

Benn Thomsen joined Microsoft Research in Cambridge, in 2017, where he works on optical systems for networking and storage in next generation cloud computing systems.

Before joining Microsoft he was a Reader in Optical Communications and a member of the Optical Networks Group at UCL from 2004-2017. His research at UCL focused on the physical layer implementation of dynamic optical networks and optical transmission. With a particular focus in the area of digital signal processing for burst mode optical receivers, optical networking for data centres and the use of MIMO techniques for transmission over multimode optical fibres.

Benn moved to the UK in 2002 to join the Optoelectronics Research Centre, Southampton University, UK, as a Research Fellow, where he carried out research on ultra-short optical pulse generation and characterisation, optical packet switching based on optically coded labels, all optical pulse processing, high power short pulse amplification and optical noise suppression.

He obtained a BTech (Optoelectronics) with first class honours, an MSc (with distinction) and a PhD in physics (2001) at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. His PhD research involved the development and characterisation of short optical pulse sources suitable for high-capacity optical communication systems.

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