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Intel Confirms Fibre Optics Can Replace Copper Connections In And Around Future Computers
Monday, 02 August 2010 16:57

Intel Corporation has announced the development of a technology that uses fibre optics to replace copper conductors on circuit boards.

This technology can move data over longer distances and many times faster than today’s copper technology; up the 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second.

Components within today’s computers are connected using copper cables and traces on circuit boards. Due to the signal degradation that comes with using metals such as copper to transmit data, these cables have a limited maximum length. This limits the design of computers forcing components to be placed centimetres from each other. Intel’s new technology replaces these connections with Fibre Optics cables that can transfer much more data over a far longer distance; this could radically change the way computers of the future are designed and altering the way datacentres of tomorrow are architected.

Intel says that this technology will have applications across the computing industry. For example, at these data rates one could imagine a wall-sized 3D display for home entertainment and videoconferencing with a resolution so high that the actors or family members appear to be in the room with you. Tomorrow's datacenter or supercomputer may see components spread throughout a building or even an entire campus, communicating with each other at high speed, as opposed to being confined by heavy copper cables with limited capacity and reach. This will allow datacentre users, such as a search engine company, cloud computing provider or financial datacentre, to increase performance, capabilities and save significant costs in space and energy.

Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs says "This achievement of the world's first 50Gbps silicon photonics link with integrated hybrid silicon lasers marks a significant achievement in our long term vision of ‘siliconizing' photonics and bringing high bandwidth, low cost optical communications in and around future PCs, servers, and consumer devices".

Silicon Photonics research aims to use silicon integration to bring dramatic cost reductions, reach tera-scale data rates, and bring optical communications to an even broader set of high-volume applications. Today's achievement brings Intel a significant step closer to that goal.

 

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