We compare optical interconnect techniques with conventional electrical interconnects as applied to high speed electronic computing systems. Theoretical and semiempirical data are used to identify the advantages of optical interconnects at various levels. Besides the inherent advantages of optics such as reduced electromagnetic and radio frequency interference and crosstalk, optical interconnects are capable of providing larger fanouts at higher bandwidths, with possibly lower system power and complexity. In addition, optics has an advantage over conventional interconnects via the density potential of free-space interconnects. We also present issues related to the implementation of optical interconnects within conventional hardware configurations and describe a packaging technique to overcome several of these issues.