The new technology uses silicon photonics, which combines silicon components with optical networking, to carry data at up to 50 gigabits per second over distances of up to 100 meters, said Jeff Demain, strategy director of circuits and system research at Intel Labs, at a company event in New York.
Intel expects the technology to be ready for use in PCs, tablets, smartphones, televisions and other products by 2015, Demain said. As well as being faster than today's interconnect technologies, it's expected to lower costs because the components will be built using existing silicon manufacturing techniques.
The technology could be used in TVs and set-top boxes to carry video streams at much higher definition than those available today. Image resolution is likely to quadruple by the middle of the decade, when successors to 1080p have arrived, and that will mean more data has to be pushed to the TV.
It should also enable faster data transfers between smartphones, tablets, PCs and peripherals such as external storage drives.
The technology still has a way to go, but Intel showed its progress at the event in New York Wednesday. It showed what it said were working prototypes of the silicon chips used to transmit and receive the laser signals.