Electron have done a great job ferrying our data. But electronic signals are no longer the answer for humanity's constant craving for greater data speeds. The world is a step closer to replacing electronic signals with light beams for data links in and around computers, thanks to a breakthrough at Intel Labs. The Santa Clara chip maker has designed the world's first silicon-based optical data link, which is capable of moving data at 50 gigabits per second (Gbps) over long distances and promises tera-scale data rates in the future.
“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,” Intel said in a press release . But the chip maker expects the Silicon Photonics Link to effect a revolution in computer design, with its impact reverberating throughout the computer industry – from data centers to consumer electronics.
Intel's latest effort should not be confused with its Light Peak technology, which is meant as “a multi-protocol 10Gbps optical connection” to supplant existing computer bus technologies like USB, FireWire, HDMI and SATA.
Image Credit: Intel