In order to stay on top of data transfer speed game, Intel’s team suggests using optical technology as the only way to dramatically increase communication speeds between processor cores in the near future. Since the move to optical technology would require new components, Intel developed a silicon-based APD; a light sensor that achieves superior sensitivity by detecting light and amplifying weak signals as light is directed onto the silicon. “Intel’s APD converts the light beams into electrical signals,” said Yimin Kang, a senior researcher at Intel, who also added that until now manufacturers paid more than $100 for a single device of this type.
The new APD utilizes silicon and CMOS processing to fulfil a “gain-bandwidth product” of 340 GHz, which is the best result ever measured for the APD performance metric. This achievement proves that it is possible for a silicon photonics device to have data running at rates of 40Gbps or higher and have lower costs compared to more expensive optical materials such as indium phosphide.