Intel preps thin fiber optics to shuffle data between computers
Intel is readying silicon photonics for use at the motherboard level
IDG News Service - Intel is taking the first steps to implement thin fiber optics that will use lasers and light as a faster way to move data inside computers, replacing the older and slower electrical wiring technology found in most computers today.
Intel's silicon photonics technology will be implemented at the motherboard and rack levels and use light to move data between storage, networking and computing resources. Light is considered a much faster vehicle to move data than copper cables.
The silicon photonics technology will be part of a new generation of servers that will need faster networking, storage and processing subsystems, said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, during a keynote at the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday.
At the conference, Intel and server maker Quanta Computer are showing a prototype server rack architecture that is capable of moving data using optical modules. The server uses an Intel silicon switch and supports the chip maker's Xeon and Atom server chips.
The new rack architecture with silicon photonics is a result of more than a decade of research in Intel's laboratories, Rattner said. He said silicon photonics could enable communication at speeds of 100G bps (bits per second), and transfer data at high speeds while using lesser power compared to copper cables. The technology could also consolidate power supplies and fans in a data center, reducing component costs.
Intel's research revolved around the production of devices needed to implement silicon photonics at the rack level, including modulators and detectors. The company is now producing silicon photonics modules that can transfer data at 100G bps, and is offering it to a few clients for testing.
Silicon photonics could potentially redefine server designs, Rattner said. With the high-speed bandwidth, processing and storage units could be decoupled from servers and stored in separate boxes. Once the infrastructure with silicon photonics is in place, server designs could change even more, Rattner said.
Intel is working with Facebook to define new server technologies that will lead to the decoupling of computing, networking and storage resources. The high-bandwidth connection offered by silicon photonics will be key in bringing the rack technologies to reality, and the processor, switch and other modules need to work together on power management, protocol support, load balancing and handshakes to make high-speed data transfers possible.
Critical to this step is "the introduction of silicon photonics in not just the inter-rack fabric, but also the intra-rack fabric," Rattner said.
Intel is already using fiber optics with its Thunderbolt connector technology, which like USB 3.0, shuffles data between host devices and peripherals. At last week's International CES show in Las Vegas, Corning announced Thunderbolt Optical Cables that can stretch up to 100 meters.
- Why Projects Fail CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Processors White Papers | Webcasts