With recent outlooks and advances in the computer fields I’m
starting to wonder if Sci-Fi might be right in this regard. High speed internet
connections such as T1 and higher have been optical for a long time now, but
the proliferation of more consumer ready optical lines such as Verizon’s FIOS is making
big waves in an area once dominated by copper. Even DSL and Cable companies
plug into high speed optical lines to form the backbone of their networks.
storage is another up and coming technology that promises to make big waves
in the storage arena. Solid
state disks are all the rage with no moving parts and fast response times,
but what if solid state moved from simple flash chips to a holographic medium.
A piece of transparent material easily produced that can be written
to in a 3-dimensional state, allowing for multi-layer and cross-layer data
storage on a scale current optical media can’t match, thus increasing capacity
by an order of magnitude. This would also allow for better long-term data
storage. It’s something being worked on heavily right now and might end up as
the storage medium of choice to replace tapes in the next few years.
Another more recent development comes from Intel and they
seem to be covering all their bases. Intel two years ago announced
success with creating a chip that could transmit data with a laser array
integrated right on the chip using mostly existing manufacturing processes,
this would allow for chip to chip data transmission much faster than currently
possible in motherboards. It would also eliminate the need for expensive
optical transceivers to convert data to light and back on each end of the
Recent details from Intel regarding the QuickPath
interconnect supports the theory that Intel is setting themselves up to
blow the doors of optical interconnects wide open. Quickpath standards are set
up so that you could easily replace the integrated circuitry with an optical
interconnect without having to change the standard at all. An optical
interconnect could further reduce latency between CPU, Memory, and hard disks
to the point that the components themselves would be the bottleneck rather than
the interconnect. Given the progress Intel has made, and the up and coming
platform from Intel that uses Quickpath, it might be only a few more years
before they open the flood gates and unleash optical interconnects in servers
While the use of fiber optics and lasers progresses smoothly
and in different areas it seems that there is little doubt the future is indeed
with light. Within our lifetimes it’s quite feasible that the majority of our
electronics will be based in the realm of photons rather than electrons.
quote: Light isn't fast enough to allow optical chip-to-chip interconnects between machines in different rooms.