Linked by fran on Tue 24th Aug 2010 22:09 UTC
Intel "Intel Corporation announced an important advance in the quest to use light beams to replace the use of electrons to carry data in and around computers. The company has developed a research prototype representing the world's first silicon-based optical data connection with integrated lasers. The link can move data over longer distances and many times faster than today's copper technology; up to 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second."
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RE: Not impressed
by ndrw on Wed 25th Aug 2010 05:53 UTC in reply to "Not impressed"
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The only thing new here is that it's being done all on one chip with integrated lasers and multiplexing at 12.5 Gbps per channel.

That's a huge difference. It's a completely different application with very different requirements (most importantly power consumption and very short range).

As far as networking goes, people are now trying to use 100Gb/s long haul connections and probably even faster links at shorter distances. But these solutions (because of optics and power dissipation) are not suitable for integration on a single chip.

OTOH, Intel's chip has to compete with traditional wire-line transmission, which can now achieve similar performance (10Gb/s is standard, ~30Gb/s is in development) and don't require special process and package solutions. Electrical solutions typically are limited to a several tens of IO channels per chip (require several "pads" per channel for building a transmission line) and this (plus larger range) is where optical solution could potentially have an advantage.

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RE[2]: Not impressed
by Neolander on Wed 25th Aug 2010 14:39 in reply to "RE: Not impressed"
Neolander Member since:

Exactly. Integrating optical data transfer on a chip + using the wavelength multiplexing capabilities = making much, much faster buses. And opening the way for all-optical data processing in the future, which means little to no heat generation (which in turn means no more stupid fans. And cubic or spherical chip design instead of those boring plastic pancakes if you want it to be so), extreme parallelism, no more costly energy conversions in optical data transmission...

Integrating 50 GBps optical transmission on a chip is very exciting ;) It's knowingly possible to make long-distance transfers at much faster speed, but it's the "integrated" word that matters here

Edited 2010-08-25 14:42 UTC

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RE[3]: Not impressed
by ndrw on Wed 25th Aug 2010 15:31 in reply to "RE[2]: Not impressed"
ndrw Member since:

Optical data transfer is reality but please don't mix it with optical computing (which, as it is today, is a hoax). Yes, you can make some basic nonlinear optical only blocks (e.g. mixers) but there is little chance they will scale down to sizes comparable to single transistors anytime soon.

Even integrating (hybrid) lasers on chip was problematic. If I understand Intel's presentation correctly, they had to modify the manufacturing process in order to do this. These cells are also not exactly like what you would call "small" or "low power". High speed IO cells can easily occupy area 10000x larger than that of a single CMOS NAND gate and I'm pretty sure Intel's optical IO isn't very different in that respect.

Reply Parent Score: 2