Hybrid silicon lasers could revolutionise computer design, says Intel

Intel announces 50Gb/s ‘milestone’

Intel Labs has created the world’s first silicon-based optical data connection with integrated lasers delivering 50Gb/s bandwidth.

The new development is notable due to placing of lasers directly on a silicon chip rather than the most usual interface to a separate optics module. The demonstration used five different wavelengths to achieve 50Gb/s but the company said that it is pushing on to even higher speeds. 

"The availability of low-cost, high-speed fiber-optics based on this technology could allow computer makers to completely rethink traditional system design from netbooks to supercomputers," said Intel in a statement

The development is not directly related to Intel’s current generation 10Gbps Light Peak technology which the company plans to deliver to hardware partners by the end of the year. However a future generation of Light Peak is a likely target for the new technology.

Intel is pinning hopes on Light Peak replacing an array of existing interconnects such as SATA, SCSI, HDMI and even USB 3.0. 

Elements of the industry have expressed frustration with the slow pace of the adoption of USB 3.0 by Intel leading to speculation that the company is pinning hopes on Light Peak despite claims that it regards the two next-generation I/O standards to be complimentary.

For more, check out PCR opinion feature USB 3.0 here and now calling for greater clarity from Intel regarding the transition to light-based interconnects.

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