Intel’s new 800Gbps cables push data faster than ever

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Intel is leading the charge to make next-generation data cables that can handle the ever-increasing power of our most massive computers. Together with a group of hardware partners, Intel will create MXC, a cable that can transmit as much as 800Gbps. (Before you ask: No, MXC is not an abbreviation.)

To give you an idea of how big a jump we’re talking about, here, most data centers are linked using 10Gbps cables. It’s even a crazy leap for Intel compared to the 100Gbps Silicon Photonics-powered cables they boasted about just last year.

The secret to making such a giant leap forward? Intel’s Silicon Photonics technology, which converts data from electrical signals to optical ones for transmission, then converts them back. Each fiber in the new cables can push 25Gbps. A 64-fiber cable can handle 1.6Tbps, 800Gbps going in and 800 going out. That kind of speed would be a major boon for data centers and companies with massive server farms: Microsoft and Facebook are among the early adopters testing the cables with their systems.

Intel will partner with Corning and US Conec to manufacture the first MXC cable. Corning will produce 8, 16, 32, or 64 fibers. (That’s 100, 200, 400, and 800Gbps, respectively.) The high-density cables will be less sensitive to dust and physical wear, Corning’s David Hessong told Ars Technica. US Conec, who makes the optical fiber converters, will also work with other cable-makers as well. Tyco Electronics and Molex have already announced plans to produce MXC-based cable assemblies.

Corning says their MXC cables will be available starting “Q3 2014,” so expect to see them go up for sale sometime in the second half of this year. There’s no word on pricing yet: though the cables are made with silicon, a comparatively inexpensive material, they’re also designed to handle supercomputer-level data flow, so you can bet they’ll be a serious investment.

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