Feeds

Intel demos inexpensive 100Gb/sec silicon photonics chip

Breakthrough will speed system-to-system data center links

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Intel has demoed what it says it "believes" is the world's only silicon photonics module that uses a hybrid silicon laser – a breakthrough that should allow such advances as vastly improved system-to-system interconnects in the data center.

The demo of the 100Gb/sec module was presented via a video during Intel CTO Justin Rattner's keynote presentation at the Beijing Intel Developer Forum on Thursday.

The chip incorporates modulators, detectors, waveguides, and circuitry – and that aforementioned laser – all in garden-variety silicon rather than pricey hand-built, gallium arsenide–based photonics modules such as are currently available.

Since integrated silicon photonics modules could be fabbed using existing equipment and tested using a hybrid of conventional and Intel-developed techniques, such speedy modules could be created much more cheaply, and therefore eventually work their way into far more devices and systems.

In a discussion with Rattner at the Open Compute Summit this January in Santa Clara, California, Sun Microsystems cofounder and current Arista Networks chairman and chief development officer Andy Bechtolsheim said of 100Gb/sec photonics, "The whole thing about 100-gigabit Ethernet is that it's not practical until the cost of the optics comes down. The current optics are so expensive that – I don't even know how to put it – they basically inhibit the market."

With the advent of silicon photonics modules such as those Intel demonstrated on Thursday, however, "One hundred–gigabit becomes a very viable technology for the networking industry," Bechtolsheim said, "and it will take off as soon as this is shipping."

In addition, the current 100Gb/sec throughput is nowhere near the top end of silicon photonics capabilities, Rattner said at the Open Compute Conference. "We're not even close to the single lambda speeds, the single color speeds, that we've described in the literature," he said. "We can make those photons go faster, we can put more stuff on the fiber, we can add fiber – so we're scalable in three or four dimensions."

Exactly how scalable? Well, Intel has said that it's aiming at eventual terabit-per-second throughput. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.