Intel to announce chip with laser-beam data transfer


    Watch out, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    Intel is announcing today that they have come up with a silicon-based chip that can shoot laser beams. We’re not talking light sabers here but rather data transfer via laser light. If that happens, it could be one of the most significant advances of the decade.

    Data transfer happens now via wires. No matter how much information tries to go from one chip to another, it all has to go through the same conduit eventually. Think of a funnel. The only way around that is to—go around it by changing the rules. Intel says its chips can transmit data using hundreds of perhaps even thousands of data-carrying light beams per chip.

    How did they do it? By using indium phosphide, which emits light, and tacking it on to a garden variety chip that had been altered to produce channels that accept and guide the light waves.

    OK, so when do we see this? Well, Intel is always hedges its bets. The company is saying that it won’t be commonly available before 2010. What that probably means is that you can expect it in a year or two.