What Cisco wants to do with Lightwire, of course, is bring optical networking technologies inside the data center by creating high-speed, high-volume switches that are priced for data centers. That’s where Lightwire comes in. See, it makes its optical chip using traditional complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processing, as opposed to assembling them from multiple parts made with expensive compound semiconductor technology. Lightwire isn’t the only game in town… IBM does this, as does Luxtera and Intel. In this paper from the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC) titled “Optical Communications in 2012,” the authors say the “technology is poised to have a large impact on optical interconnects by providing low cost, high data rates and low power consumption.”
In the Cisco statement, Panditi said the combination of Cisco’s expertise in silicon design and Lightwire’s expertise in CMOS photonics will create an “integrated technology platform that supports our customers' burgeoning need for cost-effective high-speed networks."
HP Labs is researching how photonic interconnect components—modulators, detectors, waveguides, and filters—on silicon substrates could change the way computers are built, and will present at the upcoming OFC/NFOEC March 4–8 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The presentation, titled “Future computing architectures enabled by optical and nanophotonic interconnects,” will look at how photonic interconnects could be used as smarter wire for computer connections, as well as how the technology could completely change how computers are built.
In a press release detailing the presentation, Moray McLaren, a researcher in HP Labs’ Exascale Computing Lab, said, “One very simple example is that within a data center, distance isn’t much of a factor after you’ve transitioned to an optical interconnect. Having paid the price of moving from the electronic domain into the optical domain, we can connect up any distance.”