Intel makes a play for high-speed fiber networking for data centers


Intel is revamping its strategy around the data center by going beyond the Xeon chip and into silicon photonics transceivers. The company announced Monday at the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) that samples of its silicon photonics transceivers targeting 5G wireless infrastructure and data centers are available now, with production set to start in the first quarter of 2019.

The company notes that global data center IP traffic is increasing significantly. In 2016, global data center IP traffic was 6.8 zettabytes, and that will triple by 2021 because of all this data generated by humans and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The choke point becomes copper wire, the standard for Ethernet connectivity. Copper wire can only effectively transmit about eight to 10 meters, said Eoin McConnell, director of marketing for the connectivity group in Intel’s data center group. Fiber optics can go as far as 10 kilometers.

He cited the example of one Facebook data center that is the size of eight football fields and said 10 meter connectivity just won’t do in that environment.

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