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Intel's 50Gbps Laser Light Beams Are the Future

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 66 comments

Sharks with 50Gbps laser beams?

Someday in the future, we may look back on the technology we're using today and laugh that we were using electrons to carry data in and around computers.

Intel Corporation this week announced a research prototype representing the world's first silicon-based optical data connection with integrated lasers. The link can move data over longer distances and many times faster than today's copper technology; up to 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second.

The transmitter chip is composed of four such lasers, whose light beams each travel into an optical modulator that encodes data onto them at 12.5Gbps. The four beams are then combined and output to a single optical fiber for a total data rate of 50Gbps. At the other end of the link, the receiver chip separates the four optical beams and directs them into photo detectors, which convert data back into electrical signals.

While telecommunications and other applications already use lasers to transmit information, current technologies are too expensive and bulky to be used for PC applications.

Today computer components are connected to each other using copper cables or 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 processors, memory and other components to be placed just inches from each other.

The technology, called silicon photonics, will have far reaching applications. For example, at these data rates one transmit far higher-definition video in a teleconference than what our 1080p sets can display. Silicon photonics will also enable datacenters to be more flexible in location and setup.

"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" Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs, said.

Silicon Photonics

Silicon Photonics

Silicon Photonics

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    borisof007 , July 29, 2010 12:13 AM
    Here, let me share some of my movies with you. Pew Pew Pew!
  • 21 Hide
    Greg_77 , July 28, 2010 11:50 PM
    I want freakin' laser beams on my shark, not my PC. How hard is this Intel? ;) 
  • 17 Hide
    Computerrock1 , July 29, 2010 1:04 AM
    A gigabit is 1/8 of a gigaByte
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Greg_77 , July 28, 2010 11:50 PM
    I want freakin' laser beams on my shark, not my PC. How hard is this Intel? ;) 
  • 9 Hide
    salimbest83 , July 29, 2010 12:11 AM
    Intel..
    pls release them this year..
    need em ASAP..

    :) 
  • 29 Hide
    borisof007 , July 29, 2010 12:13 AM
    Here, let me share some of my movies with you. Pew Pew Pew!
  • 4 Hide
    treefrog07 , July 29, 2010 12:25 AM
    Embedded fiber-optics in my motherboard.....So, my 2020 motherboard will display a LASER light show without my having those blue CCFL tubes? But seriously, when I looked at all the wires connecting all my peripherals, I was thinking that wire management will surely be easier - smaller, thinner bundles.
  • 2 Hide
    the hedgehog , July 29, 2010 12:25 AM
    GET RID OF DIAL-UP SPEEDS PLEASE.

    thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    the hedgehog , July 29, 2010 12:27 AM
    After thought.

    What about power transfer to devices that may require it?
  • 5 Hide
    frye , July 29, 2010 12:36 AM
    "Someday in the future, we may look back on the technology we're using today and laugh that we were using electrons to carry data in and around computers."

    And then we'll laugh again when we switch back to using electrons. Except this time, we'll be using individual electrons to carry binary data. Up spin can equal 0 and down spin can equal 1.
  • 16 Hide
    quiky87 , July 29, 2010 12:51 AM
    I might be off but 50Gbits per second is 5GB per second an HD movie is (for a single layer BD-Rom 25GB so it would be every 5 seconds or 10 seconds for a 50GB BD.
  • 0 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , July 29, 2010 12:59 AM
    This is yet another reason why I've been holding back on a new build.
  • 17 Hide
    Computerrock1 , July 29, 2010 1:04 AM
    A gigabit is 1/8 of a gigaByte
  • 1 Hide
    digitalrazoe , July 29, 2010 1:11 AM
    Something from intel that I actually like --- what$ the catch ? I hope it don't co$t an arm and a leg.
  • 17 Hide
    7amood , July 29, 2010 1:25 AM
    Gin FushichoThis is yet another reason why I've been holding back on a new build.

    how long have u been holding out exactly...
    after reading your comment... i feel like you have been holding back for decades...
  • 13 Hide
    jsm6746 , July 29, 2010 1:46 AM
    kirk: "we're pinned down!"
    scotty: "no problem captain, lemme see your phaser. i'll plug it into this hyperdoc and... now we can watch battlestar galactica at resolutions much greater than 1080p..."
    kirk: "..."
  • 1 Hide
    bpeglow , July 29, 2010 1:53 AM
    I'm holding off on a new build until they make it shoot lasers directly into my brain. Monitor free.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , July 29, 2010 2:09 AM
    I want fibre optics. :( 
    Through all I'm concerned, all homes should have 10Gb/s. They better be putting at least some of the $60/month it is for my cable internet to use...
  • 2 Hide
    Bolbi , July 29, 2010 2:10 AM
    quiky87 and Computerrock1 were on the right trail. At 50 Gigabits/second, a dual-layer Bluray movie would take 8 seconds to transfer. Marcus, did you mean 50 Gigabytes/second?
  • 0 Hide
    decrypted , July 29, 2010 2:29 AM
    Wow, in the third vid it says that the link is scalable up to 1 Terabit. I wonder if this is why Intel has been holding off on supporting USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps. I really hope that this will be coming out sooner than later.
  • -5 Hide
    loomis86 , July 29, 2010 2:54 AM
    meh

    when they can do wireless(fiberless?) laser data transmissions, then I'll be impressed. Just don't get any paper(or a finger) between your PC and your wireless monitor!
  • 0 Hide
    Pyroflea , July 29, 2010 3:44 AM
    Who needs electrons when you have photons :D 
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