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Intel offers silicon photonics technology to Facebook's Open Compute Platform

Brings its latest technology to the open standards datacentre
Thu Jan 17 2013, 11:33

SANTA CLARA: CHIPMAKER Intel has contributed mechanical prototype designs for its silicon photonics technology to the Open Compute Platform (OCP).

OCP is a Facebook led group that promotes open architectures for datacentre hardware designs. The group has been recruiting companies that build datacentre kit to offer designs to its programme over the last two years.

Intel's efforts in silicon photonics have led the company to create datacentre technology that can produce up to 100Gbit/s interconnects. The technology is said to be fast enough to last multiple processor generations.

"This is the kind of tech that will change the tide by offering faster data speeds in the data center. We can build a datacentre with 100 gigabit," said founder and chairman of Arista Networks Andy Bechtolsheim speaking on a panel discussing the benefits of silicon photonics technology.

Intel's announcement of the news came at the Open Compute Summit IV. The event was started by Facebook engineers two years ago to discover new ways to improve datacentre efficiency through open standards implementations.

Intel has become the latest company to add to the group's architecture design portfolio. Any companies interested in the available architectures can attempt to improve on OCP members' original designs.

"Intel's new photonic architecture, based on high-bandwidth, 100Gbps Intel silicon photonics technology, that enables fewer cables, increased bandwidth, farther reach and extreme power efficiency compared to today's copper based interconnects," said Intel CTO Justin Rattner at the panel discussion.

Silicon photonics technology aims to bring faster data transfer speeds to the market and has been years in the making.

Intel said the technology has such a low latency that users will be able to take components that once needed to be bound to the motherboard and spread them out through a server rack, which will mean easier upgradeability inside the datacentre.

That coupled with its 100Gbit/s throughput means that the technology will be able to last for multiple processor generations.

Intel has a working prototype built by Quanta Computers that uses silicon photonics technology. Intel also has engineering samples of the technology available. µ


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