A 50Gbps Silicon Photonics transmit module (left) sends laser light from the silicon chip at the center of the green board, which then travels through optical fiber to the receiver module (right), where a second silicon chip detects the data on the laser and coverts it back into an electrical signal
Today’s 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. Intel has announced an important breakthrough that could see light beams replace the use of electrons to carry data in and around computers, enabling data to move over much longer distances and at speeds many times faster than today’s copper technology.