Intel touts high-speed optical cable interface, Light Peak

By on September 25, 2009, 12:03 PM
USB 3.0 may have been grabbing some headlines in recent weeks, with 2010 expected to see a mass rollout of compatible products, but Intel is already working on an alternative technology that could eventually replace the plethora of interfaces currently used -- from USB itself to HDMI to DisplayPort, LAN and so on. Dubbed Light Peak, the new high-speed interconnect uses fiber optics instead of copper wires to transfer data, and consequently has much more bandwidth.

Even in its first generation it's expected to transfer at about 10 gigabits per second, or two times faster than USB 3.0. Intel added that Light Peak's throughput has "the potential ability" to increase to 100Gbps in the next ten years, but that even at 10Gbps, "a user could transfer a full-length Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds."

The optical nature also allows for smaller connectors and thinner, more flexible cables than currently possible that could span up to an impressive 100 meters. To put this into perspective, USB 2.0 is limited to just five meters of cable, without extenders, whilst USB 3.0 is restricted to three. Copper wires may still come bundled with the optical fiber so Light Peak can be used to power devices plugged into the PC.

The firm says compatible devices could be ready to ship as early as next year and that it is currently working with the industry to settle on a standard -- but of course that is easier said than done, even for Intel.

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