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In a development that could revolutionize how PCs and other tech gadgets communicate, Intel announced Tuesday that it had made the first chip that sends and receives information using beams of light.

The Santa Clara chipmaker said the fingernail-size research prototype already can move 100 hours of digital music or 45 million tweets in a second from one device to another. And the company expects to make one eventually that can transmit a laptop's hard drive in one second and the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in less than two minutes.

Moreover, because the chips are made of the same material the company uses for its brainy microprocessors, Intel envisions mass producing these "silicon photonic links" at low cost, making them practical for use in everything from personal computers to smartphones.

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Category: Science