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Intel Milestone Confirms Light Beams Can Replace Electronic Signals in the Future

Discussion in 'News' started by btarunr, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Intel Corporation today announced an important advance in the quest to use light beams to replace the use of electrons to carry data in and around computers. The company has developed a research prototype representing the world's first silicon-based optical data connection with integrated lasers. The link can move data over longer distances and many times faster than today's copper technology; up to 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second.

    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. Today's research achievement is another step toward replacing these connections with extremely thin and light optical fibers that can transfer much more data over far longer distances, radically changing the way computers of the future are designed and altering the way the datacenter of tomorrow is architected.

    [​IMG]

    Silicon photonics will have applications across the computing industry. For example, at these data rates one could imagine a wall-sized 3D display for home entertainment and videoconferencing with a resolution so high that the actors or family members appear to be in the room with you. Tomorrow's datacenter or supercomputer may see components spread throughout a building or even an entire campus, communicating with each other at high speed, as opposed to being confined by heavy copper cables with limited capacity and reach. This will allow datacenter users, such as a search engine company, cloud computing provider or financial datacenter, to increase performance, capabilities and save significant costs in space and energy, or help scientists build more powerful supercomputers to solve the world's biggest problems.

    Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs, demonstrated the Silicon Photonics Link at the Integrated Photonics Research conference in Monterey, Calif. The 50Gbps link is akin to a "concept vehicle" that allows Intel researchers to test new ideas and continue the company's quest to develop technologies that transmit data over optical fibers, using light beams from low cost and easy to make silicon, instead of costly and hard to make devices using exotic materials like gallium arsenide. While telecommunications and other applications already use lasers to transmit information, current technologies are too expensive and bulky to be used for PC applications.

    "This achievement of the world's first 50Gbps silicon photonics link with integrated hybrid silicon lasers marks a significant achievement in our long term vision of ‘siliconizing' photonics and bringing high bandwidth, low cost optical communications in and around future PCs, servers, and consumer devices" Rattner said.

    The 50Gbps Silicon Photonics Link prototype is the result of a multi-year silicon photonics research agenda, which included numerous "world firsts." It is composed of a silicon transmitter and a receiver chip, each integrating all the necessary building blocks from previous Intel breakthroughs including the first Hybrid Silicon Laser co-developed with the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2006 as well as high-speed optical modulators and photodetectors announced in 2007.

    The transmitter chip is composed of four such lasers, whose light beams each travel into an optical modulator that encodes data onto them at 12.5Gbps. The four beams are then combined and output to a single optical fiber for a total data rate of 50Gbps. At the other end of the link, the receiver chip separates the four optical beams and directs them into photo detectors, which convert data back into electrical signals. Both chips are assembled using low-cost manufacturing techniques familiar to the semiconductor industry. Intel researchers are already working to increase the data rate by scaling the modulator speed as well as increase the number of lasers per chip, providing a path to future terabit/s optical links – rates fast enough to transfer a copy of the entire contents of a typical laptop in one second.

    This research is separate from Intel's Light Peak technology, though both are components of Intel's overall I/O strategy. Light Peak is an effort to bring a multi-protocol 10Gbps optical connection to Intel client platforms for nearer-term applications. Silicon Photonics research aims to use silicon integration to bring dramatic cost reductions, reach tera-scale data rates, and bring optical communications to an even broader set of high-volume applications. Today's achievement brings Intel a significant step closer to that goal.

    BUCK NASTY says thanks.
  2. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    they think a HD movie is only 6.25GB?
  3. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    In DivX, yes. 1080p 120 min movies are around the 5 GB mark. It's sort of like telling the average audio track is 5 MB (when it's ~50 MB in PCM).
  4. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i see. on bluray, they're more like 20GB on average.
  5. v12dock

    v12dock

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    I remember reading something on Yahoo about this a few years ago
  6. buggalugs

    buggalugs

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    I think they meant Gigabytes, otherwise it only represents about the size of a DVD.....
  7. slyfox2151

    slyfox2151

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    come on give them a break :p

    once you take out all the crap on Blu ray disks... the movie itself stripped of the extras like 2 channel sound and other languages.. it gets a lot smaller then 20gb. for it to be blu ray classed it really only needs to be larger then 10GB (double sided dvd). if its on a blu ray disk, its blu ray... dosnt matter how much of the disk it takes up.
    they said HD movie. they never claimed it was on Blu ray... (unless it was edited :p)



    this is a lot faster then alternatives such as USB or Sata. wonder if this will be commonly avalible when intels new socket R comes out. that would be a nice upgrade
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  8. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i rip a lot of BR movies for playback through our NAS, 20GB is average - even for animated movies. remember that the disks go upto 50GB.


    and yeah this tech is totally awesome - i just didnt like their silly numbers :p
  9. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    i think were missing the fact that they are transferring this shit with a mini flashlight.
  10. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i'm just not excited by it, until i see it used in systems.
  11. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    honestly. im not too geared up either. this is just micro fiber optics. which is a concept easy enough to understand. It is however quite a step forward that than can infact get it that small. Im curious to what the hoped for extent will be though. Like exactly what will they try to impliment it with? The sky is the limit but replacing all copper traces and paths in a PC with light? That will be after my life time.
  12. _JP_

    _JP_

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    Yup. That would mean major architectural changes to a board's design. Light can't travel trough a 90º angle, so I'm not seeing this being introduced into the micro-hardware market. Installing fiber-optic cables isn't easy as is on a regular server installation or a house, let along a PC case...
    Cable management would be a headache. :laugh:
  13. Sasqui

    Sasqui

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    Funnay and true, it does add another layer of complexity, makes one question reliability when looking at the number of I/O cables in a PC.

    Did you know the length of a nanosecond is 30cm? :)
  14. evillman New Member

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    HD = 720p, so, yeah 5GB for a complete movie in HD.
    FullHD = 1080p
  15. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Did you know that without a context that statement has no meaning? :laugh:
    Please fill in the blanks for me ...

    "The distance a can travel through in a nanosecond is 30cm."
  16. Sasqui

    Sasqui

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    Ok, just for you...

    Light will travel approximately 30cm in 1 nanosecond.

    Have light, will travel. :laugh:
    Kreij says thanks.
  17. GunsAblazin New Member

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    Like with all optical connections, it's just much faster. Because this technology isn't new, it's fairly cheap. Doing this in a PC will remove any slower connection between components. Right now everyone is trying to switch to fiber optics not just for its speed, but for the energy eficiency. This new tech will also mean better eficiency in PCs and other electronics. So this may be comming sooner than you think.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  18. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    we know that. fiber optic isnt new tech.

    the problem is this example they have may be smaller than whats out there now, but its still hundreds (if not thousands) of times too large to be used where we want it most - inside CPU's and GPU's.
  19. Steevo

    Steevo

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    Imagine a video card with this type of connector, a clean noise free dual link between NB-SB-CPU-Memory


    This is good, but only works if they allow other competitors to use it. Who would adopt it for motherboard manufacture, interfacing with peripherals, or otherwise if only Intel uses it?
    10 Million points folded for TPU
  20. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    i can already seeing as being a complicated problem. As intel developed it and not a bored of standardizers. Intel may not share it. which would be detrimental to the growth of the PC market. but they might. Which will sandbag the PC market. they will obviously want royalties. they will probably leave out some things and force other companies to fill in the blanks. So they always have the performance advantage. <-- thats pretty much how it is now with anything. But were talking micro fiber optics. not known tested tech. so when it first hits market it will be more expensive than anything we've ever seen. not to mention depending on implementation it will probably need a total rebuild $$$$$$. Shame that we cant advance tech first then make $ they hold all the strings and charge along the way. sometimes I imagine were we would be if everything electronics didnt coast thousands of dollers.
  21. xtremesv

    xtremesv

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    The cloud is coming :pimp:
  22. Meizuman

    Meizuman

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    Maybe some day we'll have PCs that have all the zeros and ones moving as light through optic fiber... I think that day shouldn't even be SO far away.

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