Left: Prof. John Bowers (UCSB), right: Dr. Mario Paniccia (Intel)
Intel has just presented its 50Gbps photonics link, a module that uses an on-board laser to transmit and receive data at very high speed – much higher speed than what conventional wires can support. This is not a product yet, far from it, but it’s a very tangible proof that it can be done in a way that will eventually lead to commercialization. Just to give you a sense of what 50Gbps represents: you could download an HD movie in a second. And this would only be the beginning: Intel thinks that it can scale the technology up to 1 Terabits per second (Tbps, or 1000Gb/s).
For now, the main barrier is the cost of using optical links. However, components cost reduction is what Intel has built an empire on, so the company believes that it can tackle this problem and add value for everyone who moves data around. Let’s hope they’re right, because with cloud computing growing quickly, that bandwidth crunch is just around the corner. More information at intel.com/go/sp