Intel Develops Fastest Optical Chip Using Silicon

Submitted by lalit on December 8, 2008 - 4:11pm.

Intel has talked about bandwidth requirement in massive multi-core processors and how bandwidth can be the biggest bottleneck in development of processor with hundreds of cores. Intel has been working on various solutions for the above problem and one of them was silicon photonics. But, till now, silicon photonics with complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) have suffered from performance shortcomings.
In a recently published article in the journal Nature Photonics, Intel announced that it has achieved “world record” performance in optical communications using silicon photonics. In silicon photonics’ photo dectors are used to send and receive data in optical form, which is way faster that currently used electronics. Intel says that development is significant, as it is based on silicon that is available cheaply and in abundance. Intel also claims that the new chips based on silicon photonics outperforms chips made with more exotic and costly materials.
“This research result is another example of how silicon can be used to create very high-performing optical devices,” said Mario Paniccia, director of Intel’s Photonics Technology Lab. “The development can be used not only in optical communications but areas such as sensing, imaging, quantum cryptography, and biological applications.”
This development will be very useful in future chips that have massive multi-core and require very high data bandwidth. Intel has developed a silicon-based Avalanche Photodiode (APD) that achieves “gain-bandwidth product” of 340GHz, which will result in optical links with data speed of 40Gbps or higher. The use of these Avalanche Photodiode in future chips will increase data transfer rate between processor and the system, as well as data transfer between various cores in the processor.
[Via CNET]