The Data Rate Explosion

The user interfaces of mobile and consumer electronics devices have undergone a remarkable transformation in just a few years. We have gone from buttons and LEDs to ultra high-resolution 4K UHD displays with touch sensing capabilities. Super slim TVs, laptops and tablets with 4K UHD display resolution are available. In addition VR / AR (Virtual / Augmented Reality) products which require high resolution and high speed data transfer are becoming mainstream. 8K resolution TV displays are being developed and will be available soon. It is not just displays which have these high resolutions. Cameras present in these mobile and consumer devices are already capable of 4K video.
The new generation of VR / AR and super thin 4K UHD TVs need high speed data communication in the range 20 to 100 Gbps.



Having extremely high-resolution displays and image sensors creates a new set of challenges for system designers. There are many challenges involved in transporting such huge amounts of data to and from displays and image sensors in these applications.

To handle the ultra-high-speed data transfers associated with these 4K and 8K resolution displays and cameras as well as the high speed data transfers needed to store 4K content, several new high speed consumer standards have been developed. However a major problem has been identified - as the speed of these interfaces increases, the copper cable used to transport the data becomes shorter, thicker and heavier.



The above graphic shows how copper cable length decreases as the data rate increases. In contrast, the length of optical cables is not limited no matter how high the data rate.



The above graphic shows copper cable thickness (and therefore weight) increases with data rate. In contrast, optical cable thickness remains the same (very thin) no matter how high the data rate.

Copper cables are available for this new generation of high speed interfaces but they are thick, heavy, bulky and limited in length to 1m or so. The consumer cannot accept this. Copper has reached its limit and a new solution is required. That solution is optical technology from Silicon Line – the transition from copper to optical is under way!

But the data rate explosion does not stop here. In the next few years we can expect new standards to be developed which reach up to and exceed even 100 Gbps which will complete the transition from copper to optical.