Intel Claims Advancement In Silicon-Based Components - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

Intel Claims Advancement In Silicon-Based Components

The company's latest achievement is in building a silicon-based photodetector, which captures and amplifies data-carrying laser beams in optical communications.

Intel says it has made an important advancement in the use of silicon-based components for transmitting computer data faster and cheaper.

The advancement was in an area called silicon photonics, which uses standard, inexpensive silicon to send and receive information among computer servers in a data center and other electronic devices. Intel, which published its research over the weekend in Nature Photonics, also believes its work could lead to faster communications between cores in a single processor or among multiple processors within a computer.

Intel's latest achievement is in building a silicon-based photodetector, which captures and amplifies data-carrying laser beams in optical communications. Such communications, which is faster that copper wiring, is primarily used today to transmit data over long distances, such as cable TV or telecommunications.

The photodetector will make it possible to build a silicon photonic device that can move data at 40 Gbps or faster. In addition, the device could someday exceed the performance, at less cost, than devices made with traditional, more expensive optical materials, such as indium phosphide.

Intel plans to combine the photodetector with other silicon-based components the company has developed for transmitting computer data, including a modulator and hybrid laser. "This research result is another example of how silicon can be used to create very high-performing optical devices," Mario Paniccia, Intel Fellow and director of the company's Photonics Technology Lab, said in a statement.

Intel's work in silicon photonics is partially funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Numonyx, a company formed with former operations for Intel and STMicroelectronics, provided manufacturing expertise. The University of Virginia and the University of California, Santa Barbara, provided consultation and assisted with testing.

Intel is not the only company developing silicon photonics. Others include Luxtera, a closely held California company that's already producing silicon-based optical components.

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