Intel Silicon Innovation Could Eliminate Data Jams

Thanks Know Won, exit, and OrangeSoul. Researchers said on Wednesday they have found a novel way to use the silicon building blocks of computer chips to switch light on and off at high speeds, an advance that could eliminate data traffic jams inside and between computers.

The technique, to be published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, could thrust silicon into the heart of high-speed fiber-optic communications, which to date has relied on more exotic materials like indium phosphide and gallium arsenide, experts said.

While silicon had previously been used to switch light, Intel said it has shown that it can be done at speeds of more than one billion cycles per second, more than 50 times faster than previous demonstrations.

"This is a significant step toward building optical devices that move data around inside a computer at the speed of light," Intel Chief Technology Officer Patrick Gelsinger said in a statement.

"It could help make the Internet run faster, build much faster high performance computers and enable high bandwidth applications like ultra-high definition displays or vision recognition systems," he said.

Intel said it has built a silicon-based modulator, a device that takes laser light and pulses it onto fiber-optic cables at very high speeds. Those pulses become the data that form the basis for fiber-optic communications.

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