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Silicon optics aims to combine the best of both worlds

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1 Author(s)

Vendors of computer-, networking-, and telecommunications-related equipment have long faced a dilemma. Much of their equipment is based on silicon and copper wiring, which are inexpensive to use but offer limited data rates. Thus, as microprocessor and networking speeds have increased, the speed of communications within chips, between chips or circuit boards, within LANs, or even along the "last mile" from ISPs to customers has not kept pace. An option is to use optical connections for these communications. However, optics has been expensive and, therefore, not suitable for any but the largest networking operations with the most traffic and the biggest potential for return on investment. Thus, optics has been used largely in settings such as telecommunications vendors' backbone networks. Now, though, vendors are attempting to combine the best of both worlds and offer silicon optics, which uses complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology to fabricate optical components on silicon. This approach would speed up traditionally silicon-based systems. It could also reduce the cost of optical equipment and bring optical systems within reach of more users, including companies and service providers with networking operations smaller than those of large telecommunications providers

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:39 ,  Issue: 6 )