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July 27, 2010

Intel Demos 50 Gbps Silicon Photonics Prototype

Nicole Hemsoth

The Register’s Rik Myslewski reports that Intel’s silicon photonics group has demonstrated an optical interconnect that carries data at 50 gigabits per second (Gbps).  The prototype consists of a transmitter chip containing four integrated lasers, an optical cable, and a receiver chip to demultiplex the data at the other end.  According to Mario Paniccia at Intel, the key to the technology is have it all implemented in silicon, including the lasers themselves, which removes the expense and performance issues associated with discrete components. Today’s discrete optical devices, used in HPC and elsewhere, can transmit data at 40 to 100 Gbps, but cost hundreds of dollars. Myslewski writes:

When asked about today’s 40Gbps optical interconnects, Rattner laughed. “I didn’t look this morning to see what they’re selling for, but my guess is that they’re hundreds of dollar a port. Our goal is to get down to a dollar a port. That would be success for us.”

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