Feeds

Intel demos inexpensive 100Gb/sec silicon photonics chip

Breakthrough will speed system-to-system data center links

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'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
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.