February 12, 2004 – Intel Corp., Santa Clara, CA, said it has made a silicon modulator operating at 1GHz, roughly 50x faster than other devices, which will enable faster data transmission along fiber-optic lines.
The devices typically are made from materials such as indium phosphide, lithium niobate, and gallium arsenide, which are expensive to produce in high volumes. Potential applications include faster Internet data transmissions, higher-performance computers, and high-bandwidth applications such as ultra-high-definition displays and vision recognition systems.
“This is a significant step toward building optical devices that move data around inside a computer at the speed of light,” said Patrick Gelsinger, senior VP and CTO at Intel.
Intel said it might eventually scale the technology up to 10GHz or higher, and eventually reduce the price of optical communications devices from $1000-$2000 to $5-$10. However, products using silicon photonics — such as chips with built-in fiber-optic communications capabilities — are years away.