Silicon Optical Fiber its a system that uses the advantages of silicon production: cost and speed of production most notably with the speed and power of fiber.
This prototype network can run at 50Gbps and they have successfully been using it at 40Gbps with theoretical speeds of 1Tbps achievable.
Previously in optical networks, dedicated components were needed for the detection and initiation of the optical signal.
“Because silicon is translucent at infrared wavelengths, portions of a chip can be used to create waveguides, mirrors, prisms and other optical components, with Intel’s design of indium phosphide/silicon laser producing light that can be tuned by setting up different patterns of gratings on-chip.”
The new technology is integrated at the silicon level which upon reaching mass production should prove to bring extremely fast networking down to very low costs. Likely this technology will become mainstream for wired networks in the near future. Future expansion could see this technology kick start moores law which has been seen to be failing lately, integrating high speed communications far in excess of current silicon is capable of at processor and circuit board levels.
Intel do have other Optical Based research projects on going this may be the first of many significant advancements in optical computer networks.