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Intel expansion promises cheaper telecoms

Intel has opened a new 70,000 foot plant to design and manufacture photonics, a specialised field involving the manipulation of light pulses over optical fibre. The technology promises faster and cheaper telecoms equipment in the future.

Chip giant Intel is expanding its optical networking business to include photonics design and manufacturing, a branch of opto-electronics that promises faster, cheaper telecoms equipment.

Opto-electronics involves the conversion of electronic signals into light pulses and back for transmission and processing over networks. Photonics is a specialised field involving the manipulation of light pulses over optical fibre.

Photonics allows switching and signal processing to be implemented in silicon using the same manufacturing processes used in making semiconductors today, thus allowing faster and cheaper telecommunications equipment.

Intel recently completed construction of a new 70,000 foot plant built specifically for the design and manufacture of photonic equipment in San Jose, California.

The company also acquired Templex Technology to provide additional expertise in photonics construction.

Despite a relatively late entry to the field of photonics manufacture, Intel was keen to stress that these latest moves are the culmination of years of preparation.

“Intel’s entry to photonics is the outgrowth of many years of internal research and development and our expertise in silicon manufacturing,” said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel Communications Group.

“We’re investing in this business for the long term and have built a specialised design, test and manufacturing facility just for this purpose.”

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