New Chip Uses Light to Send, Receive Data

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 28 (UPI) — U.S. microprocessor giant Intel says it has developed a chip that can send and receive information at incredible speeds using beams of light.

The California chip maker said the fingernail-size prototype can transfer 100 hours of digital music from one device to another in one second, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.

Eventually, such chips could transmit the contents of a laptop’s hard drive in one second and the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in two minutes, the company says.

Because the chips are made of the same material as the company’s current microprocessors, the “silicon photonic links” could be produced at low cost, making them practical for use in everything from personal computers to smartphones, Intel says.

“It’s actually quite significant and a wonderful step forward,” Alan Wilner, a laser expert at the University of Southern California who is familiar with the technology, said.

Copper connections traditionally used in devices ranging from PCs to digital camera and flat screen televisions can become overloaded with data, degrading their electronic signals.

And with the amount of video and other information being transmitted expanding rapidly, concerns are mounting that copper is nearing its technological limits.

But vast amounts of data can be transmitted easily via light beams over optical fiber, leading a number of companies, including Intel, to work seriously on the technology, the Mercury News said.

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