Intel's (INTC) new MXC server interconnect cables leverage the chip giant's silicon photonics tech and optical fibers developed by Corning (GLW) to enable 1.6Tbps transfer speeds (800Gbps each way) via 64 fibers running at 25Gbps apiece. Traditional solutions work at 10Gbps, and max out at 12-24 fibers.
Corning plans to begin selling MXC cable assemblies, which have a range of 300 meters, in Q3. Intel asserts the technology's per-fiber throughput could eventually double to 50Gbps. The companies think supercomputer (HPC) vendors and cloud computing firms will be among the first buyers.
Over time, MXC's blistering speeds stand to further Intel's goal of creating server architectures in which CPU, memory, storage, networking, and other resources can be separately pooled and upgraded as needed. "The ability to take my memory and stash it a rack away, optical can enable that," says Intel exec Mario Paniccia.
Intel's efforts pose a challenge to optical component vendor Finisar (FNSR), whose shares sold off a year ago on worries about Intel and Cisco's silicon photonics efforts. They're also a challenge to high-speed interconnect leader Mellanox (MLNX), which last year acquired silicon photonics startup Kotura and 100G interconnect developer IPtronics. Since then, Mellanox has said it will ship 100G silicon photonics products in late 2014 or early 2015.