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Intel Makes Advance in Silicon-Based Lasers


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silicon photonics chips

Intel's silicon photonics-based transmitter and receiver chips can operate at up to 12.5 gigabits per second for a single channel, or at four times that rate using four channels.

Credit: Intel Corp.

New technology from Intel could lead to the development of computers that use light beams to move data. Intel says it has built a communications device using components from silicon, including lasers that operate at a very fast speed. Link, the prototype device, includes a transmitter chip with four silicon-based lasers that each send data at 12.5 billion bits per second, or 50 gigabits total.

View a video demonstration of Intel's silicon photonics link.

Some commercial networking hardware can send 40 gigabits of data per second, but the devices may cost hundreds of dollars or more per connection, says Intel's Justin Rattner. Intel believes it can reach prices as low as $1 per connection and achieve greater speeds—up to 1 trillion bits per second.

However, the company must improve its techniques for producing the components in high volumes, says Intel's Mario Paniccia. Intel says the development could lead to new commercial products and change the way computers are designed.

From The Wall Street Journal
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