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Intel Launches Integrated Photonics Research Center

Collaborative, multiple university center brings together world-renowned photonics and circuits researchers to pave the way for the next decade of compute interconnect.

What’s New: Intel Labs recently opened the Intel Research Center for Integrated Photonics for Data Center Interconnects. The center’s mission is to accelerate optical input/output (I/O) technology innovation in performance scaling and integration with a specific focus on photonics technology and devices, CMOS circuits and link architecture, and package integration and fiber coupling.

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“At Intel Labs, we’re strong believers that no one organization can successfully turn all the requisite innovations into research reality. By collaborating with some of the top scientific minds from across the United States, Intel is opening the doors for the advancement of integrated photonics for the next generation of compute interconnect. We look forward to working closely with these researchers to explore how we can overcome impending performance barriers.”
James Jaussi, senior principal engineer and director of the PHY Research Lab in Intel Labs

Why It’s Important: The ever-increasing movement of data from server to server is taxing the capabilities of network infrastructure. The industry is quickly approaching the practical limits of electrical I/O performance. As demand continues to increase, electrical I/O power-performance scaling is not keeping pace and will soon limit available power for compute operations. This performance barrier can be overcome by integrating compute silicon and optical I/O, a key research center focus.

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Intel has recently demonstrated progress in critical technology building blocks for integrated photonics. Light generation, amplification, detection, modulation, CMOS interface circuits and package integration are essential to achieve the required performance to replace electrical as the primary high-bandwidth off-package interface.


Additionally, optical I/O has the potential to dramatically outperform electrical in the key performance metrics of reach, bandwidth density, power consumption and latency. Further innovations are necessary on several fronts to extend optical performance while lowering power and cost.

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