Intel's reveals silicon photonics module for data centres

In order to speed up the way in which data is moved across data centres, Intel has revealed a new silicon photonics product that will be able to move data at much greater speeds than currently possible.

The company's new PSM4 silicon photonics module will be able to deliver 100 gigabits per second across a range of two kilometres. This will enable data to be shared at higher speeds across data centres.

Intel has been working for years to combine electronics and optical components onto a single piece of silicon as this will simplify both the production process and at the same time will lower its manufacturing costs. The PSM4 was revealed at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco by executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group Diane Bryant.

Bryant acknowledged the work that Intel has put into developing this new module, saying: “Electrons running over network cables won't cut it. Intel has been working on silicon photonics over 16 years. We are the first to light up silicon.”

This new technology is quite different than other ways of delivering data which often rely on optical technology. However, optical is more difficult to manufacture and is much more expensive to produce than products created using silicon. Intel's PSM4 silicon photonics module uses a hybrid laser to achieve its high data transfer speeds.

Bryant also pointed out that data centre traffic is doubling every 12 months due to increased demand as more and more businesses have shifted to the cloud. Intel is working on more than connecting servers via optics and Bryant noted that eventually “optics will be required into the server as well”.

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