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Glass Chips Could Make Internet-Connected Devices Smarter

But at what price, ask the experts.

  • A startup plans to create a glass-based chip that offers far more computing power than traditional silicon-based chips.
  • The new chips will help usher in a new generation of energy-efficient and responsive smart devices.
  • Before introducing them into devices, consider their safety implications, experts warn.

Digital communication, conceptual image. Optical fibers that transmit data through electronic circuits in a laptop.

Tek Photos/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

The human brain is a highly coherent computing device, and a startup hopes to simulate efficiency using a new type of processor made of glass.

CogniFiber claims its glass-based chips are small but powerful enough to equip smart devices with server-grade processing power, significantly reducing the time it takes to make complex decisions.

“Anything that generates massive amounts of data every second, such as fleet management of connected vehicles, automated trains, or large-scale drone shipments, can respond to events in real-time without relying on a data center,” Dr. Dr. explained. Eyal Cohen, CEO of . and CogniFiber, in an email PR response to Lifewire.

living on the edge

Traditionally, smart devices work by capturing data and sending it to a remote computer, where the data is processed before the results are sent back to the device. Edge computing has emerged as a means to reduce the response time of smart devices by increasing their computing power and ending their reliance on remote servers.

Before CogniFiber announced its glass-based processors, CogniFiber showed off its proprietary DeepLight technology, which the company said could essentially process data within the fiber optic cable itself.

Hand with fiber optic light trail.

Studio Yagi/Getty Images

“The future of computing will require a whole new way of transporting and processing large amounts of data,” said Professor Zeev Zalevsky, CogniFiber’s co-founder and CTO, in an email interview with Lifewire.

This resonated with smart device expert Siji Sunny, chief architect of SugarBoxNetworks. He believes glass-based chips will help bring sophisticated computing power to edge devices.

“I believe that replacing silicon-based semiconductors with fiber processing can dramatically change the world of edge computing, which [as powerful as] Cloud farms and clusters for data processing and computing,” Sunny told Lifewire via email.

“A massive increase in the processing power of connected devices…requires a well-thought-out security strategy.”

A CogniFiber spokesperson told Lifewire via email, citing the benefits of the new chips for home users, for example, they will help create a new generation of highly responsive robotic home assistants thanks to built-in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

Glass-based chips also have an environmental impact by reducing the load on external data centers, the spokesman said. In addition, glass-based chips have low power consumption, which helps reduce carbon footprint.

The spokesperson even argued that even if the processing levels promised by glass-based chips were achieved by conventional silicon-based chips, their energy and carbon requirements would be enormous compared to those based on glass-based chips.

see before jumping

Even as CogniFiber works to implement its glass-based chips, cybersecurity experts warn that greater computing power comes with greater attack potential.

Tim Erlin, vice president of strategy at Tripwire, believes that more powerful devices will lead to more complex use cases, and complexity will create opportunities and benefits for attackers.

“Damaging the processing power of connected devices, especially those connected directly to the Internet, requires a well-thought-out security strategy,” Erlin told Lifewire via email.

But Erlin added that the potential threat of technological breakthroughs should not be used as an excuse to stop moving forward. Instead, he suggested that it should be a reason to consider security ex ante rather than ex post.

Tyler Reguly, security R&D manager at Tripwire, is concerned that the chips are made of glass.

“For over five years now, stories have been circulating about a global glass shortage and the world running out of sand. It was a hot topic in 2015, and countless articles are still being written each year,” Reguly told Lifewire via email.

He noted that an ongoing global shortage of silicon has pushed up computer hardware prices and disrupted production in multiple industries, especially auto manufacturing.

“Are we really moving forward technologically when we create new technology based on something that is already scarce?” Reguly wondered. “Are we participating in an already ongoing chip shortage?”

Content

Glass Chips Could Make Internet-Connected Devices Smarter

But at what cost, ask experts

A startup plans to create a glass-based chip, which offers far greater computational power than traditional silicon-based chips.
The new chip will help usher in a new generation of energy-efficient and responsive smart devices.
Think of their security implications before pushing them into devices, warn experts.
TEK IMAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

The human brain is a very coherent computational organ, and a startup intends to mimic its efficiency with the help of a new class of processors made from glass.

CogniFiber claims its glass-based chips will be small yet powerful enough to equip smart devices with server-grade processing power to significantly reduce the time it takes for them to make complex decisions.

“Anything that generates vast amounts of data every second, such as connected vehicles, automated trains, or fleet management of large shipment drones, can respond in real-time to events without reliance on data centers,” explained Dr. Eyal Cohen, co-founder and CEO of CogniFiber, in a PR response emailed to Lifewire.

Life on the Edge

Traditionally, smart devices work by capturing data and relaying it to remote computers, where the data is crunched before the results are routed back to the devices. Edge computing has emerged as a means to reduce the response time of smart devices by increasing their computing capabilities and ending their reliance on remote servers.

Before it announced its glass-based processors, CogniFiber showcased its DeepLight proprietary technology, which the company claimed can essentially process data within the fiber-optic cables itself.

Yagi Studio / Getty Images

“The future of computing demands a whole new way of transferring and processing vast amounts of data,” asserted Professor Zeev Zalevsky, co-founder and CTO of CogniFiber, in an email interview with Lifewire.

This is something that resonates with smart devices expert Siji Sunny, Principal Architect at SugarBoxNetworks. He believes the glass-based chips will help bring complex computational processing prowess to devices at the edge.

“I believe the replacement of silicon-based semiconductors to in-fiber processing may drastically change the edge computing world, which can be [as powerful as] cloud farms and clusters for data-processing and computation,” Sunny told Lifewire over email.

“Dramatically increasing the processing power of connected devices… requires a well-thought-out security strategy.”

Illustrating the advantages of the new chips to a home user, a CogniFiber spokesperson told Lifewire over email that they’ll, for instance, help create a new generation of very responsive robotic home assistants thanks to built-in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. 

By reducing the burden on remote data centers, the glass-based chips will also have an environmental impact, asserted the spokesperson. Furthermore, the glass-based chips have low energy demands that’ll help reduce their carbon footprint. 

In fact, the spokesperson argued that even if the level of processing promised by glass-based chips is achieved with traditional silicon-based chips, their power and carbon demands would be enormous as compared to glass-based chips.

Look Before You Leap

Even as CogniFiber works to make its glass-based chips a reality, cybersecurity experts caution that increased computing power also brings an increased potential for attacks. 

Tim Erlin, VP of strategy at Tripwire, believes that more powerful devices will drive more complex use cases and that complexity will create both opportunity and benefit for attackers.

“Dramatically increasing the processing power of connected devices, especially those directly connected to the Internet, requires a well-thought-out security strategy,” Erlin told Lifewire over email.

But the threat potential for any technology advancement shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stop moving forward, Erlin added. Instead, he suggested it should be a reason to consider security up front instead of as an afterthought.  

Tyler Reguly, manager of security R&D at Tripwire, is concerned about the chips being made from glass. 

“For more than half a decade, there have been stories about global glass shortages and the fact that the world is running out of sand. This was a hot topic in 2015 and continues to see numerous articles written every year,” Reguly told Lifewire over email.

He points to the ongoing global silicon shortage that has driven up prices for computer hardware and also disrupted production in several sectors, most notably automobile manufacturing.

“Are we really advancing technology if the new tech we’re creating is based on something that is already in short supply,” asks Reguly. “Are we joining a chip shortage that’s already in progress?”

#Glass #Chips #InternetConnected #Devices #Smarter

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