Intel’s Advancements Lead to the Future of the Data Center

A little over a year ago, I wrote an article titled, “Why Blade Servers Will be the Core of Future Data Centers” where I coined the name “Rackplane” which described the concept of future data centers designed with rack sized systems capable of having blade server like compute, memory, I/O, network and storage nodes all communicating at high speeds.  While my vision is pure speculation (and was imagined before my current employment with Dell), Intel and Facebook seem to be creating a vision of the future of data centers that is similar to mine.  Intel Corporation announced a collaboration with Facebook to define the next generation of rack technologies used to power the world’s largest data centers.  According to Intel’s Chief Technology Officer, Justin Rattner, ““Intel and Facebook are collaborating on a new disaggregated, rack-scale server architecture that enables independent upgrading of compute, network and storage subsystems that will define the future of mega-datacenter designs for the next decade.” According to the CTO, “The disaggregated rack architecture includes Intel’s new photonic architecture, based on high-bandwidth, 100Gbps Intel® Silicon Photonics Technology, that enables fewer cables, increased bandwidth, farther reach and extreme power efficiency compared to today’s copper based interconnects.”

According to Wikipedia, Silicon Photonics, or Si Photonics, is the study and application of photonic systems which use silicon as an optical medium.  In December of 2008, Intel Labs researchers announced they made advancements in the field of Silicon Photonics by achieving world-record performance using a silicon-based Avalanche Photodetector (APD) which are optical devices that sense light and amplify signals.  Without digging into the details, the report from Intel in 2008 provided a breakthrough that creates the possibility of using APDs for 40 Gbps optical communication links replacing copper as found in today’s motherboards.

Learn more about Intel’s APD breakthrough by reading the Nature journal article, or view the explanatory animation.

Intel Avalanche Photodetector


Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of  He has over 15 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global 500 market.

 Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.