Interesting read and comments! I am not too sure how or if at all the Von-Neumann bottleneck can be addressed through this technology. Also, it seems highly unlikely that this will actually percolate to the more ubiquitous applications, for instance PAN connections!! Essentially, this will really make the supercomputing and "supernetworking" much more efficient.
There are issues with polarization and I am very happy that Intel is leading on this. Optical Interconnect is not a slam dunk, there are many ways to go before commercialization. But if they pull this out, it could be the end of AMD and a one-microprocessor world. That is what it looks like as Intel is pushing really hard into the future than AMD. During my PhD I worked on this technology, it has many promises, but it is not yet for prime time because you have to look cost also.
The laser itself is InP based. It does not say what is made of photodiode. As long as it is involved III-V semiconductor, I worry about its yield as well as size shrinking. Therefore, I have some doubts about the future of this technology.
If the innovation is indeed cost down enough, it will give a great push to today's computing, not only in the weight reduction but also in the speed improvement. It improves the speed from CPU to peripheral. The cost of using fiber optics as the last mile will be a lot more reasonable. The cost of fiber optics will lightly come down as the shipping volume is higher. I can't wait to see the commercialize of the innovation.
Even so the efforts in reaching higher speeds, the limit is at the frontiers. The conversion from light to electrical signal and vice versa will be the bottleneck until this hurdle is bypassed there is not much speed that can be overcome.
Unless of course the all light-electronics are achieved. Or may we say, “lightronics”?
Nevertheless, it's a great job the work being done by Dr. Paniccia and his team. And looks like before quantum computers are here, silicon optics will take a moment in the industry. I suppose this will get all the way to our mobile devices... will USB cable become an optical fiber?
Intel is banking on silicon-level innovations like these to address the Von-Neumann bottleneck, keep Moore's law going and keep their main competitive advantage (x86 compatibility). I worry however about the timelines announced "... begin appearing in as little as five years...". Anything can happen in such period.
How much weight do you think can be shaved from mobile devices by switching to internal optical connections instead of copper? If you compare the tiny size of current mobile devices to non-electronic devices, their heavier weight is arguable there most distinctive quality. The heavy weight of mobile devices comes from all the copper used internally for interconnections, but by switching to plastic optical connections, their weight should be greatly reduced. How much weight do you think can be shaved from mobile devices by switching to internal optical connections instead of copper?