Data Transfer Using Light! - 50GB/Second - Intel

Intel researchers said that the optical technology could ultimately replace the use of copper wires and electrons to carry data inside or around computers. An entire high-definition movie can be transmitted each second with the prototype, the researchers said.

The technology will also be able to carry data over longer distances than copper wires, Intel researchers said.

Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner characterised the research prototype as a breakthrough in research as copper wires were reaching their limit. There is a wealth of data that needs to be moved, and transferring data at 10G bps or more over copper wires is becoming a challenge. Even if the data could be transferred over copper wires at that speed, there are distance trade-offs.

Optical interconnects solve that problem by allowing data transfers at much faster rates, and over longer distances, Rattner said on a conference call to discuss the technology.

"Photonics gives us the ability to move those mass quantities of data across the room... in a cost-effective matter," Rattner said.

The photonics technology could potentially speed up data transfers within PCs or devices such as handhelds, where movies could be downloaded at faster rates, Rattner said.

202018 50g silicon photonics link 23 606 350

Laser is already used in devices such as DVD players, and also for applications such as long-distance communication. Laser technology can however be expensive, and Intel wants to bring the technology down to a low-cost point where it can be integrated into everyday devices, Rattner said. The company hopes to raise the speed of the optical interconnect to reach up to 1T bps (bits per second) as it increases the number of channels to improve data transfers.

But for now, the company has demonstrated in principle that it can get the pieces together and put it together in a fab. The next step is to implement it in chips and take it to volume manufacturing. The technology could reach the mass market by the middle of the decade, and could go into PCs, servers or mobile devices.

The technology won't be implemented at the integrated circuit level in the short term, but could replace copper wires that connect CPU to memory, for example, said Mario Paniccia, an Intel fellow. The optical interconnect will reduce latency, which could result in faster data movement and processing.

"We think it's going to be perfectly at home in data-centre applications," Rattner said. For consumer applications, an optical interconnect would also help users to down movies to handheld devices at faster rates, Rattner said.

  • Mozart
  • August 24, 2010, 5:59 am
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  • 1

    Would this be the "Thunderbolt" technology that Apple recently launched? They said they were working closely with Intel to make Thunderbolt...

    That's 10GB/sec BOTH WAYS (10gb/sec input AND 10gb/sec output simultaneously)

    Thunderbolt on Apple's Website (Simple Description)
    Thunderbolt on Intel's Website(More in depth description)

  • 1

    Sooo.... its fiber optics? This tech has been around for the longest time... I use this stuff every day to transfer NIPR and SIPR data throughout the military...

    i was just thinking that
    - sephirothnatis July 11, 2011, 1:57 pm
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