In case you didn't know, electrons are total crap. The future is in light beams; that is, photons. Chipmakers love their silicon, cheap and easy to manufacture at volume, so they are furiously researching ways to put photonic integrated circuits on silicon chips. The speed component of the integrated circuit is the optical modulator. Today's generally go around 10Gbps. Intel just announced a breakthrough speed: a silicon optical modulator that can rock 40Gbps. Wanna hear more? There are lasers... and a gallery!

The system Intel designed is still just a lab sample, but it means that high-speed optical interconnects for computers are not far off. This means the downloading of massive amounts of movies, pirated software and other stuff in the proverbial blink of the proverbial eye.

Says Ansheng Liu, principal engineer at Intel's Photonics Technology Labs:

"It will become possible to integrate multiple devices on a single chip that can transmit terabits of aggregate data per second in the near future — truly enabling terascale computing."

Imagine 25 of these hybrid silicon lasers on a single chip, resulting in super sick terabit-per-second data transfer speeds. Pair that with the 40 gigabit Ethernet Chen told you about yesterday, and you get some idea of where we're going here. I for one am excited as hell. [Intel via PC World]