Intel delays part for high-speed silicon photonic networking

The silicon photonics modules will now ship at the end of the year

Intel has delayed shipment of a component module required for its silicon photonics technology, which uses pulses of light to move data between servers at extremely high speed.

The original batch of modules, which was supposed to ship at the beginning of the year, failed to meet Intel specifications and quality requirements, Intel spokesman Mark Miller said. Those parts will now be used as samples for testing.

New modules are scheduled to ship at the end of this year, meaning silicon photonics cables for connecting servers won't be installed before 2016.

Data can be transferred much more quickly via photons of light and optical cables than using electrical signals over a copper wire. Intel says its optical system can transfer data at 100G bps (bits per second), and much faster in the future.

The delay won't hurt "first movers" and those with long-term plans to roll out the technology across mega data centers, said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. But it could hurt customers who are counting on silicon photonics for specific applications in the nearer term.

Servers that support silicon photonics will have special MXC connectors in which fiber optic cables are plugged. One MXC connection, which combines multiple silicon modules, could eventually transfer data at up to 1.6Tbps (terabytes per second), or 800Gbps in each direction.

Server makers Fujitsu and Quanta have shown servers that use light as a data transfer mechanism. Intel has also developed new protocols, like O-PCI (Optical PCI-Express), to support such data transfers. Intel is developing the silicon modules while partners developing the fiber optics.

In the meantime, server makers can offer alternative networking technologies like InfiniBand, but some customers may opt to wait for photonics networking, especially for enterprise applications that can take advantage of it, Moorhead said.

Silicon photonics has been researched for more than a decade and Intel wants to make sure the modules are up to high standards, he said.

Intel already uses light to transfer data in Thunderbolt 2, which can connect a PC and a peripheral at 20Gbps. Optics are also used for high-speed data transfers over long-distance communications networks.

The delay holds back Intel's plans to bring large-scale changes to the data center. It's making optical communication a centerpiece of its effort to decouple the major system components, including CPU, storage, memory, into discrete building blocks. That could help reduce cooling costs and improve performance in servers, it says.

Intel had planned to link storage and processing units using optical communications in a supercomputer due for release later this year. That could now be delayed until next year.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags servershardware systemsintel

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?