Intel sees light in chip breakthrough
Research with UC Santa Barbara finds laser-producing chip that could cut cost, boost speed of communication networks and computers.

NEW YORK ( -- Researchers from Intel and the University of California Santa Barbara have created a silicon-based chip that can produce laser beams, a breakthrough that could greatly improve the speed and lower the cost of computers and communication networks.

The development makes it possible to use laser light rather than wires to send data between chips, addressing one of the major hurdles in advancing the use of so-called "silicon photonics" in computers and data centers, Intel said in a statement.


Fiber optic networks can carry much more data than copper wire, but it's been too expensive to use this technology in the PC industry. The hybrid silicon laser Intel has developed could help remove that barrier by lowering costs through the use of high-volume silicon manufacturing techniques.

This could herald "a new era of high-performance computing applications," Mario Paniccia, director of the photonics technology lab at Intel (Charts), said in the statement. But Paniccia acknowledged that the technology is "still far from becoming a commercial product."

Shares of Intel edged higher in midday trading Monday.

Intel is the world's largest maker of computer chips, far ahead of No. 2 producer Advance Micro Devices (Charts), which has made gains in recent years in the market for the more common chips used in personal computers and servers. Texas Instruments Inc. (Charts) and Samsung Electronics Co. (Charts) also compete in the industry.

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