At this year’s IDF in San Francisco Intel announced volume shipments of new discrete Silicon Photonics modules, apparently capable of maintaining a 100Gbps data rate over a 2km long link. This is a step up from previous capabilities available in “shops” and a personal promise from Diane Bryant, Intel’s Data Center Group chief.
Silicon Photonics is a promising technology which aims to develop standard optical components such as light sources, detectors, mirrors, waveguides, etc using standard silicon technology. A major potential benefit is cost saving, since the elements would be produced in a standard process. Secondly, Silicon Photonics can significantly increase integration, improving communication capabilities of other on-chip components. Think direct, on-chip optical integration.
Initial deployments are targeted at datacenters. One example application is Intel’s Rack Scale technology (RSA). It provides a vision for a highly integrated datacenter rack, where storage, compute and memory are all pooled together.
Other manufacturers are also actively working on the technology.
Intel’s IDF press note