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Thursday, February 17, 2005
(Via PCWorld)Intel researchers have developed a method of generating a continuous laser with a silicon device,one of the first steps toward introducing optical interconnects in future processors, servers, and PCs. Exploiting Raman effect and using standard chip-manufacturing techniques,Intel built a transistor-like device that can produce a continuous beam of light.Those light waves can carry data at faster speeds than copper, the current standard for chip interconnects. Companies such as Intel and IBM are working on ways to boost chip performance as chip components shrink to the size of individual atoms, a point at which the decades-long practice of diminishing the size of transistors becomes exceedingly difficult. One way to improve the performance of chips, servers, and networking devices is by replacing the electrical charges that carry data today with light particles (also known as photons). This discipline, called photonics, is well under way in the networking industry, where fiber-optic materials are replacing older copper wire as the preferred means of transmitting signals over long-haul communications networks. Unfortunately, fiber-optic materials are expensive and complex. Using silicon materials to generate light waves would solve many of the cost issues, but silicon does not naturally emit light. On the other hand, existing silicon devices can be used as channels for laser beams capable of carrying data signals.
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