Modern computing and data storage systems increasingly rely on parallel architectures where processing and storage load is distributed within a cluster of nodes. The necessity for high-bandwidth data links has made optical communication a critical constituent of modern information systems and silicon the leading platform for creating the necessary optical components. While silicon is arguably the most extensively studied material in history, one of its most important attributes, an analysis of its capacity to carry optical information, has not been reported. The calculation of the information capacity of silicon is complicated by nonlinear losses, phenomena that emerge in optical nanowires as a result of the concentration of optical power in a small geometry. Nonlinear losses are absent in silica glass optical fiber and other common communication channels. While nonlinear loss in silicon is well known, noise and fluctuations that arise from it have never been considered. Here we report sources of fluctuations that arise from two-photon absorption and free-carrier plasma effects and use these results to investigate the theoretical limit of the information capacity of silicon. Our results show that noise and fluctuations due to nonlinear absorption become significant and limit the information capacity well before nonlinear loss itself becomes dominant. We present closed-form analytical expressions that quantify the capacity and provide an intuitive understanding of the underlying interactions. Our results provide the capacity limit and its origin, and suggest solutions for extending it via coding and coherent signaling. The amount of information that can be transmitted by light through silicon is the key element in future information systems. Results presented here are not only applicable to silicon but also to other semiconductor optical channels.