You know those cabling contests that try to get systems administrators to show off their racks? If this article from the MIT Technology Review is right, those may become a distant memory as researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Intel and IBM have shown how they can send data between servers without those pesky cables using 60 GHz wireless and bouncing those radio signals off the ceiling.
That means rapid data transfers up of to 500 Gigabits per second (current Ethernet cables in data centers are generally 1, 10 or maybe 40 gigabits per second) and less mess with physical cables. Of course, every switch at the top of a rack would have to get a radio card slotted into it, and there’s also the matter of putting reflective panels on the ceiling for the wireless signals to bounce off of. The top of the servers would also need some kind of signal-absorbing surface so the signals don’t continually bounce around the data center. From the article:
To maximize the bandwidth and reduce interference between signals, it needs to be focused into narrow beams that require a direct line of sight between endpoints. “Any obstacle larger than 2.5 millimeters can block the signal,” she says.
More of the GigaOM article from Stacey Higginbotham