Intel to Announce Telecommunications-Speed Breakthrough

Intel researchers will announce today a major breakthrough in chip design that will
make it possible to inexpensively create ultra-high-speed fiber optic telecommunications
equipment that can send data over long distances. The breakthrough will revolutionize
Internet-based communication, the company says, by bringing the PC industry’s low-cost
model to telecommunications. The results of Intel’s work should be widespread within
a decade, according to a paper that will be published today in “Nature.”

“Before there were two worlds–computing and communications,” Alan Huang, a former
Bell Labs physicist, told “The New York Times.” “Now they will be the same, and we
will have powerful computers everywhere.” Researchers familiar with Intel’s breakthrough
are excited about the possibilities, which should enable completely new PC designs
that don’t delineate between the local physical machine and remote computing resources.
Because we’ll eventually be able to shuttle data over a network nearly as fast as
we send data within a single PC, a completely new generation of PC services and applications
will be possible. “Think of it as either bringing us a tenfold decrease in costs of
existing communications or 10 times the bandwidth for the same cost,” Intel President
and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Paul S. Otellini said. “It is yet another step in
the path to convergence we have been discussing for the past few years.”

The Intel breakthrough involves a silicon chip that can send data through light beams
at speeds more than 50 times faster than today’s fastest communications technologies
and should result in low-cost computer networks that use light waves to move data
seamlessly between chips, computers, and networking devices around the world. Excited
researchers note that the breakthrough will likely shift communications technology
to the Moore’s Law cost curve, an often-misquoted chip pricing-and-performance prediction
that Intel Cofounder Gordon Moore first cited. Under Moore’s Law, chip performance
doubles every 2 years (or 18 months, depending on who you ask) while prices continue
to fall.

If Intel’s projections hold true, within the decade we’ll be able to buy 10GHz networking
switches that cost just $5 to $10. Today, such switches cost $1000 to $2000.

Intel to Announce Telecommunications-Speed Breakthrough