Photons rather than electrons are the way forward for computers, according to the Singapore government.

Singapore is a leading country in the building of future systems, such as broadband for the population and the idea of technology for all. As far back as 2000, for example, it was organising the collection of older PCs and their redistribution to families that couldn't afford them.

The Singapore government's Infocomm Development Authority has identified photonics, which uses light rather than electronics for all aspects of communications and networking, as a key technology for the future, the IDA said last week in a report.

"Photonics for application in information and communication technology is a revolutionary technology, one that is as fundamental and impactful as the invention of the transistor," IDA said.

"The world of photonic technologies has long-term potential... in areas such as tuneable lasers, all-optical switches, dispersion compensators, photonic crystal fibres, and Dense Wave Division Multiplexing components."

Photonics will be part of next-generation optical networks, which will complete the move away from communication networks designed for voice transmission, IDA said.

"In the optical age, the report sees the emergence of intelligent high-capacity Internet Protocol-based optical networks that can provide dynamic and instantaneous bandwidth-on-demand," IDA said.

On top of that infrastructure, IDA expects that web services, peer-to-peer and grid computing will help bring about a new paradigm where resources, data, applications and services will be intertwined to support future activities over the internet.

According to IDA, specific internet developments will include:

  • a ubiquitous internet accessed by a diversity of devices;

  • the concept of 'immersion', a two-way web that is more media-rich and interactive while enabling greater functionality;

  • an evolution of market and economic dynamics to a service and subscription-based model;

  • a major shift in software development methodologies, adopting an increasingly agile and on-demand model;

  • an underlying layer of standards for interoperability and interactivity between heterogeneous environments, removing barriers to openness;

  • a higher level of collaboration, facilitated by an increase in business-to-business, machine-to-machine and application-to-application interactions.