Cross-posted on the Infinera boards, and included here for those who follow INFN. Much of this is repeat information…
About 35:40 into the segment, Joe Biden describes the advantage of a Photonic Integrated Circuit based solution for data centers on energy efficiency.
He states that all of the datacenters in the US consume as much power as the entire state of New York. These data centers could cut power needs significantly by switching to light-based components (integrated photonics) right now and reduce their power consumption by 10 times.
There is only one vendor with such a solution in the market today, and that solution is Infinera’s Cloud Xpress.
Biden’s talk is the formal announcement for the National Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute, a $600M public/private venture to improve research and standardize design processes for integrated photonics. The initiative launched on 7/27 and it includes Infinera as one of the partner companies. I have a strong “gut” feel that Infinera has had significant involvement in this consortium and will continue to influence it going forward.
I have no idea how more energy efficient network equipment could slash energy costs by 90%. The power is mostly consumed by servers. Which generate a lot of heat while performing calculations. Which in turn require A/C to remove the heat, because if the servers get too hot they tend to break.
I’d think network equipment, while critically important to be sure, would consume less than 10% of the overall power used in a typical DC. I’m in IT however not a hardcore data center specialist, but that stat doesn’t smell right at all.
At the risk of showing off my ignorance…, I watched some videos that I didn’t really understand and came away with…, using photons versus electrons. Light instead of electricity. Somewhere along the way, the 1’s and 0’s are transmitted in light (photons) instead of ‘n’ volt electricity. Much less heat generated, much less heat to remove, much less need for a/c. The use of photons over long distances is solved right now with fiber optics and Infinera has the gatekeeper technology. As the transmission distance decreases, the cost of doing it increases. At the computer level, way too expensive. But the photonics institute thing in New York will, I guess, lead to hybrid silicon/photonics (?) and eventually photonic computers. Not sure what is in it for INFN next quarter or next year, but incrementally more applications for shorter and shorter distance transmission of data by photons (lasers).
Would like to hear from someone who actually knows what I’m talking about
I believe the reference was to the long term use of photonics for the internals of the servers, in place of the integrated circuits. Which is to say, a long, long, long, long way in the future, if it is even possible. However given that this was all about a research facility, such an extrapolation really could be their long term goal.