Intel is claiming "world record" performance in optical communications using silicon photonics, in a development announced in the journal Nature Photonics.
Silicon photonics-based photo dectors are used to send and receive optical information, particularly in very high-bandwidth applications like supercomputers. Intel says silicon photonics is essential for "ultra-fast transfer of data (in) future computers powered by many processor cores."
The development is significant because it is based on silicon--a readily available, low-cost material used in semicondutor chips today--and outperforms more exotic, pricier materials. To date, Silicon photonics technology, using complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) techniques, has suffered from performance shortcomings.