Intel launches silicon photonics for data centers

With network traffic in data centers doubling every 12 months, electrons running over copper cable just won’t cut it.

At the Intel Developers forum 2016, Intel announced it’s launching silicon photonics, a product 16 years in the making, to enhance the use of optics for datacenter traffic management.

By adding photonics capability to silicon manufacturing, Intel is developing a new class of high-speed optical connectivity products, which remove networking bottlenecks that can result in stranded compute capacity—driving toward a future of virtually unconstrained data center connectivity.

Intel started shipping silicon photonics in June. “We’re very excited about the response we’ve seen so far,” Intel Executive Vice President Diane Bryant said at the Developers Forum.

The competitive advantage Intel will gain with silicon photonics demonstrates the “power of being an integrated design and manufacturing house”, she said.

According to a research report written by 451 Research, Intel® Silicon Photonics Could Change the IT World

From the report
Broadly, silicon photonics is the adaptation of silicon integrated circuit technology and manufacturing processes to the
design and manufacture of electro-optical transceivers to be used for short-haul optical data transport (rack to ‘metro’ scale).
The excitement over silicon photonics is that it leverages silicon integrated circuit technology, which can be reasonably
thought of as the eighth wonder of the world considering its amazing progress over the last 50 years and universal
impact on our lives. Soon after transistors started to be manufactured in volume commercially in the 1950s, the idea of
manufacturing many at once on a wafer of semiconductor material was conceived (the ‘planar’ process). Relatively soon
thereafter, the idea of building entire electronic circuits at once (fabricating and interconnecting the resistors, capacitors
and other circuit elements as well as the transistors) was conceived (what became known as the ‘integrated circuit’). In the
roughly 50 years since, integrated circuits have progressed from a few transistors in a circuit to billions. Along the way, entire
computer processors were fabricated and then improved (made more powerful and more efficient) every year. The result is
what we often call ‘Moore’s Law progress’ and has led to the remarkable point where almost everything we use incorporates
an integrated circuit processor, and more and more of them are interconnected over the internet.

Read more and/or download the report by 451 Research here.


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