Chad Wood writes "According to the New York Times (free reg. req.), Intel has demonstrated a research breakthrough, making silicon chips that can switch light like electricity. The article explains:''This opens up whole new areas for Intel,' said Mario Paniccia, a an Intel physicist, who started the previously secret Intel research program to explore the possibility of using standard semiconductor parts to build optical networks. 'We're trying to siliconize photonics.' The invention demonstrates for the first time, Intel researchers said, that ultrahigh-speed fiberoptic equipment can be produced at personal computer industry prices. As the costs of communicating between computers and chips falls, the barrier to building fundamentally new kinds of computers not limited by physical distance should become a reality, experts say.'"