back to article GlobalFoundries' new silicon photonics tech gets big buy-in

GlobalFoundries believes data traveling at the speed of light is the future, and it's pointing to support from Nvidia, Cisco Systems, and others as evidence that its silicon photonics manufacturing tech is mainstream-ready. The Malta, NY-based chip manufacturer said it has designs under way with major customers for its new GF …

  1. badflorist

    I don't understand any of this but...

    ... is this only about moving data super fast or possibly in the future processing data super fast? Moving data at the speed of light is great but what can process the data that fast to require such transmission speeds?

    Sorry, the technicalities of the hardware being discussed in this article is over my head but I'm still wondering about the foreshadowing of such development.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand any of this but...

      The speed of light changes with the material is travels through. The speed of electrical signals is ... the same as the speed of light in the insulator separating the conductors. Either way, the maximum speed is when the material is a vacuum. (The speed of light in air is almost as fast as in vacuum.)

      The big selling point here is not the signal speed but the data rate. It is easier to get more bits per second along an optical fibre than along a pair of wires. The plan is to replace many pairs of wires with a single optical fibre.

      All this "data at the speed of light" stuff is marketing gibberish to impress PHBs.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand any of this but...

      My understanding is not that much greater than yours but I suspect that their chip will reduce electrical requirements and heat as well as crosstalk, assuming it's successful. The whole speed of light thing is just marketing.

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > 300mm photonics features and a 300GHz-class RF-CMOS on a silicon wafer

    300mm? So I popped it down on the bench and the chiropodist said "That's not a foot!" and I said "No, but it's a good twelve inches!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tim Vine would like a word.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Physics baby

    A signal travels along a matched pair cable at 99.odd % of the spread of light, it travels along a fiber at 1/1.56 of the speed of light - bring back twinax

    1. Bitsminer Bronze badge

      Re: Physics baby

      It's "Density, baby". Your average electron is very chatty to nearby wires. Photons, on fibre, not so much.

      So you can put lots more photons on many more of their own separate optical paths without backtalk or crosstalk. And that means parallel transfers, aka bandwidth.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Physics baby

        And you have the advantage that when you switch a laser source at high speed the emc induces a signal in every other wire in the building - a huge saving in network cable

  4. Bartholomew Bronze badge

    Hot as hell

    Am I the only one thinking that the part that fails a lot on SAN's (storage area network) and wide area networks is the fibre optic SFP's (Small form-factor pluggable transceiver) or QSFP(Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable transceiver). So much so that they are designed to be rapidly replaced in a matter of seconds. I'm guessing that this new silicon will also be designed to be easily replaced, since I see no mention of higher MTBF (Mean Time between failures) with this more compact integration. In my mind moving things closer means it will run hotter (higher energy per unit area) and since every 10°C increase in temperature reduces the life of electronics by half (ref: Arrhenius equation), I suspect the opposite will be true.

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