Researchers at Intel Corp. and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have announced a breakthrough in computer-chip communications, potentially paving way for ultra-fast computers in the future.

On Monday, the researchers detailed hybrid silicon lasers that could have a huge impact on chip-to-chip communication and on optical communications networks.

This could bring low-cost, terabit-level optical 'data pipes' inside future computers and help make possible a new era of high-performance computing applications, said Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's Photonics Technology Lab.

Traditionally, computer chips operate on data at extremely high-rates internally, however shifting that data to other parts of the system are done via wires - operating many times slower, and considered to be one of many bottle-necks in current computing.

The new developments makes way for chips to communicate with light pulses instead, effectively removing slow-down associated with wires, and improving system performance overall.

The announcements may mark the beginning of transition, however researchers say that more progress needs to be achieved before the technology trickles to the consumer level.

While still far from becoming a commercial product, we believe dozens, maybe even hundreds of hybrid silicon lasers could be integrated with other silicon photonic components onto a single silicon chip.

This marks the beginning of highly integrated silicon photonic chips that can be mass produced at low cost, John Bowers, a professor UC Santa Barbara added.