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Intel Brings Integrated Silicon Optics Closer

Competitor Luxtera says it can match Intel

3 min read

4 August 2010—The race to replace copper wiring with optics in chip-to-chip communications reached a new milestone last week as Intel announced it had produced a system using silicon-based photonics to transmit data between printed circuit boards at 50 gigabits per second.

”We’re bringing silicon manufacturing to optical communication,” says Mario Paniccia, director of Intel’s Photonics Technology Lab. ”It changes the way in the future that we’re going to connect.” Until recently, optical communications was done using exotic semiconductors and other expensive components. Making such systems in silicon should lower their price and allow for easy integration into computers.

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3 Ways 3D Chip Tech Is Upending Computing

AMD, Graphcore, and Intel show why the industry’s leading edge is going vertical

8 min read
Vertical
A stack of 3 images.  One of a chip, another is a group of chips and a single grey chip.
Intel; Graphcore; AMD
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A crop of high-performance processors is showing that the new direction for continuing Moore’s Law is all about up. Each generation of processor needs to perform better than the last, and, at its most basic, that means integrating more logic onto the silicon. But there are two problems: One is that our ability to shrink transistors and the logic and memory blocks they make up is slowing down. The other is that chips have reached their size limits. Photolithography tools can pattern only an area of about 850 square millimeters, which is about the size of a top-of-the-line Nvidia GPU.

For a few years now, developers of systems-on-chips have begun to break up their ever-larger designs into smaller chiplets and link them together inside the same package to effectively increase the silicon area, among other advantages. In CPUs, these links have mostly been so-called 2.5D, where the chiplets are set beside each other and connected using short, dense interconnects. Momentum for this type of integration will likely only grow now that most of the major manufacturers have agreed on a 2.5D chiplet-to-chiplet communications standard.

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