Founder and CEO Dr. Nick New explained: "Optalysys' technology applies the principles of diffractive and Fourier optics to calculate the same processor intensive mathematical functions used in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and pattern recognition. Using low power lasers and high resolution liquid crystal micro-displays, calculations are performed in parallel at the speed of light."
Although the technology has the potential to deliver several quintillion floating point operations per second (exaFLOPs), it can be powered from a standard mains supply, with an estimated running cost of just GBP 2,100 per annum.
By comparison, the world's fastest supercomputer, the $320 million Tianhe-2 manufactured by China's National University of Defence Technology, costs a hefty $21 million per year to run. A similarly powered Optalysys supercomputer would be far cheaper to build too.
Nick New continued: "We are currently developing two products, a 'Big Data' analysis system and an Optical Solver Supercomputer, both of which are expected to be launched in 2017. The analysis unit is designed to work alongside existing supercomputers to provide advanced data analysis capability. Its initial specification will be 1.32 petaFLOPs, increasing to more than 300 petaFLOPs by 2020. The Optalysys Optical Solver Supercomputer will initially operate at a speed in excess of 9 petaFLOPs, increasing to 17.1 ExaFLOPs by 2020."
Putting that into context, current global supercomputing leader Cray is aiming to break the 1 exaFLOP threshold in the same timeframe.
Unlike today's supercomputers, which necessitate dedicated sites and climate controlled environments, the Optalysys computer will be able to operate in a conventional office setting too.
Optalysys Chairman James Duez stated: "In science, engineering and 'Big Data' applications - such as aerofoil design, weather forecasting, MRI data analysis and quantum computing - it is becoming increasingly common for traditional computing methods to fall short of delivering the processing power needed. The optical processing technology that we are developing will offer step-changing advances in how physical processes are modelled and how the resulting data sets are analysed."
James Duez continued: "Our initial target market is CFD, an essential tool for a quarter of a million engineers and scientists around the world. CFD can be used to predict the weather, design cars and model airflow, but the speed of processing needed to create models is constrained by current electrical capabilities. The speeds that optical processing can achieve will eliminate this problem almost overnight."
Nick New stated: "Early conversations with potential customers have been extremely positive and one of the largest weather centres have said they are keen to collaborate with us because the energy cost to produce such high quality forecasts, and deal with the huge data volumes, is unaffordable with current processor technologies. Whilst our goals are ambitious they are definitely achievable and we are confident that Optalysys technology will be a game-changer for the global science and engineering communities."
A short film explaining this revolutionary technology, narrated by Professor Heinz Wolff, is available to view at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2yQ9xFshuc .