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Photonics: The End of the Copper Wire Age

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 19 comments

From the Intel labs comes the future of data connection: Silicon Photonics, or the use of silicon to generate and transmit light.

Intel touts silicon photonics as a copper wire successor, for communications and data transmission. According to Justin Rattner, the company's CTO, “electronic signaling relying on copper wires is reaching its physical limits. Photonics gives us the ability to move vast quantities of data across the room or planet at extremely high speeds and in a cost-effective manner.”

The silicon photonics package features a silicon transmitter and a receiver chip. The transmitter encodes the laser using an optical modulator with a bandwidth of 12.5Gbps. Intel used a gang of four lasers in their technology, resulting in a 50 Gbps throughput. That's like transmitting the data inside a dual-layer DVD in less than two seconds. Receivers on the other end decode the laser streams back into usable information.

Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's Photonics technology lab, says that they "expect the technology to be widely deployed by the middle of the decade.” For now, there are no plans to integrate silicon photonics with the CPU, but the possibility exists. “If we are talking about CPU-to-memory connection, we would take our photonics chip and put it close to the CPU to bypass the copper interconnects,” says Paniccia.

Intel is currently focusing on improving the transfer rate by adding more lasers per chip. “The 50-Gbps rate is just the beginning," Paniccia says. “In the labs, we ran this for 27 hours with no errors and transferred about a petabit of data, all this at room temperature with no fancy cooling.”

via Wired

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  • -1 Hide
    digiex , September 17, 2010 4:02 PM
    Next... The Skynet
  • -1 Hide
    lasaldude , September 17, 2010 4:12 PM
    It will be pushed back to 2020 unless the Porn Industry adopts it somehow, someway and then it will be out before the world ends in 2012.
  • 2 Hide
    lasaldude , September 17, 2010 4:13 PM
    digiexNext... The Skynet


    That's Google's Job. Intel will build the chips in the "Robot servants." read terminators.
  • Display all 19 comments.
  • 6 Hide
    NightLight , September 17, 2010 4:17 PM
    There's so much potential here. Get this into our homes Intel!
  • 1 Hide
    santfu , September 17, 2010 4:31 PM
    +1 NightLight, but, we're already far from saturating the current interfaces. Could be a while before we need it.
  • 4 Hide
    dman3k , September 17, 2010 6:02 PM
    Why so many thumbs down? Is it because we're all so eager to get this technology in our computers and not willing to wait 5 years for Intel to not monopolize this or is the "next... skynet" joke not funny?

    I thought it's pretty hilarious. But damn it, Intel! I want lightpeak next year on my pc/laptop, and 5 years on my mobile phone! Damn it!
  • 3 Hide
    TeraMedia , September 17, 2010 6:20 PM
    The only thing preventing the use of this for remote PCIe connectors is latency. If a NB with lightpeak-enabled remote PCIe connections can accept the added latency of e.g. a 10 ns signal xfer delay delay (3 meter fiber cable), then you could effectively connect a high-performance graphics card to a laptop with up to a 10 ft cable, and have a high-powered portable gaming rig with low-power operational capabilities. Just a thought.
  • 5 Hide
    elbert , September 17, 2010 7:05 PM
    Would be nice to transfer about 6.25GB's a second.
  • 4 Hide
    Hilarion , September 17, 2010 7:20 PM
    Ever since they discovered that lasers can be modulated and data sent over them them have been predicting "the end of copper wire!" Still seems to be an awful lot of it around the last 30 years since I first heard that phrase.
  • 0 Hide
    jaysbob , September 17, 2010 7:51 PM
    woo faster porn downloads!
  • -5 Hide
    jeraldjunkmail , September 17, 2010 9:29 PM
    Just gave EVERYONE a thumbs up. Stop the hatred people!
  • 2 Hide
    zachary k , September 17, 2010 9:37 PM
    it is not going to create skynet, that joke is as old as "will it play crysis?".
    anyway, this is a nice step forward. who knows, usb 4.0 could be all photonics!
  • -2 Hide
    wotan31 , September 18, 2010 12:00 AM
    zachary kit is not going to create skynet, that joke is as old as "will it play crysis?".anyway, this is a nice step forward. who knows, usb 4.0 could be all photonics!

    Ugh, USB just needs to die and go away. Crappy protocol, suitable for joysticks and mice, and that's about it.
  • 1 Hide
    hawkwindeb , September 18, 2010 12:33 AM
    Other possibilities w/o lasers: proximity computing/communication between chips that are very very close almost on top of each other with no wire traces between them. This was from 2004.
    http://labs.oracle.com/spotlight/2004-09-20.feature-proximity.html
  • -1 Hide
    jrnyfan , September 18, 2010 2:36 AM
    Yeah but can I play crysis over that connection?
  • 1 Hide
    thillntn , September 18, 2010 3:22 AM
    Soon computers will have more silicon than a breast implant?
  • 0 Hide
    tommysch , September 20, 2010 1:33 PM
    digiexNext... The Skynet


    lasaldudeThat's Google's Job. Intel will build the chips in the "Robot servants." read terminators.


    I think the MPIAA and the RIAA will be the one building the first online AI to find torrents. Then the AI will sue us all until the race goes extinct. The only survivors will be lawyers which by then will have lost all sense of humanity.
  • 1 Hide
    decepticon , September 20, 2010 3:21 PM
    thillntnSoon computers will have more silicon than a breast implant?

    You mean silicone?
  • 0 Hide
    Thunderfox , September 21, 2010 6:37 PM
    TommySchThe only survivors will be lawyers which by then will have lost all sense of humanity.

    Implying they have any *now*...
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