Intelannounced a prototype technology today capable of moving data at 50 Gbps, comparable to sending an entire HD movie in one second – foreshadowing faster, longer data connections that could be revolutionary for consumers and data center users.
The prototype represents an important advance in Intel’s research into silicon photonics – using lasers instead of electrons to send data – which the company has been working on for years. Intel hopes to scale up the technology until it reaches speeds close to a terabit per second – fast enough to transfer a copy of the entire contents of a typical laptop in one second, the company said.
Data transmission speeds over wire-based connections are limited by bandwidth and distance. Intel turned to silicon-based photonic devices in order to transcend these physical limitations and continue to make more powerful chips.
With the new process, electrical signals are translated into light at different-colored wavelengths, which are combined and travel down a single fiber. Then the light is separated back into wavelengths and converted back to electrons. The speeds are so high that processors, memory and other computer components will no longer need to be placed inches from each other, implying vastly different computer designs in the future, the company said.