Gallery: Inside Intel's 50Gbps silicon optics

Gallery: Inside Intel's 50Gbps silicon optics

Summary: Intel has brought together six years of silicon photonics research into two chips, combining ultra-fast optics with silicon production techniques in the hopes of making very fast networking very cheap.


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  • Intel has debuted the prototype of a high-speed fibre optic data system based on silicon chips with integrated lasers and detectors, which it says can revolutionize affordable data communications across IT. ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins gives a tour.

    Intel's 50Gbps silicon laser transmitter, at bottom right, and optical receiver, at top left, connected by a standard fibre. The transmitter chip is the long silver device behind the connector; the smaller silver rectangle beneath it contains standard driver circuitry. Key points to note are the normal printed circuit board and construction techniques: one of Intel's key claims for this technology is that it can be manufactured and used like any other electronic component. Current optical networking components need specialist techniques of construction and use, which increases their cost and limits their usability.

    For more on the technology's debut, see Intel shows off ultra-fast silicon optical network. For more photos, click through to the next page.

    Photo credit: Intel; Captions: Rupert Goodwins ZDNet UK

  • Although there are two chips, one for receive and one for transmit, this will change. Intel is fine-tuning the very different processes needed to make the receiver and the transmitter first, and will worry about combining them onto a single chip later. In principle, though, both functions can work in a single chip, and ultimately will.

Topic: Intel

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