Intel Silicon Photonics Chip Is World's Fastest (and Prettiest)

MIT's Tech Review has the scoop that Intel's wizards have come up with a new chip entirely made out of silicon that "can encode 200 gigabits of data per second on a beam of light" versus the measly 100 Gbps that the fastest optical networks currently churn at—which aren't made of silicon. Which means they can't scale nearly as fast or cheaply as Intel's silicon wonder. And this is all on the way to making a fingernail-sized chip that can crunch a terabit of data. Here's how this photonics business works.

Intel's chippy takes a beam of light and karate chops it into eight channels, each of which has a modulator that encodes data onto light. These data-ified beams are then recombined, and boom. This all at happens at a rate of 25Gbps per modulator. This stuff is the building blocks of a computer future where copper is replaced by beams of light. But before that happens, Intel wants to cram 25 modulators onto a single chip, with each one running at 40Gbps, maybe with hybrid lasers built onto the chip to toss light at the modulator instead of an optical fiber.

Time to market? Three to five years. Fingers crossed. [MIT Tech Review]

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