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.




User Comments: 24

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raybay said:

Does this sound easy to repair?

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

All this speed sounds great. Unfortunately, there are no storage devices in the works that are even remotely close to handling it. 10GPs? Current SSD technology (and at outrageous prices) can only handle 200MBs.

One side needs to get caught up to the other.

Moltar said:

First things first though, at least there is a much faster connection on the horizon.

Guest said:

This could replace bulky monitor cables with a single thin and light cable. Plus you can send audio to your monitor if it has speakers, and data to USB ports on a monitor, with one single cable.

Eddie_42 Eddie_42 said:

Tom,

You make a great point. Even if the devices were upgraded, the SATA connection is 3gb/s, thats a long stretch from the 200mb/s SSD's or even platter drives.

Its nice to know that this technology is being developed, but it will take time to really see a need for it.

Guest said:

Drives dont really need to catch up at all for this to be worthwhile. Ideally we would have a universal royalty-free interconnect with greater speed that could possibly be realised, and the hassle of new standards and different interfaces would be solved permanently.

LightHeart said:

It sounds good however I think it may be awhile before something like this really takes off. 1) a standard needs to be created, 2) Product vendors then need to add this feature, 3) as mentioned by TomSEA, what then becomes the weakest link? Other equipment needs to catch up, 4) the cost of all this needs to be competitive. I suppose as TV, DVD, NAS, PC's etc become connected (not just like today) but really use one standard with one cable so you can watch a HD movie in another room from the source then this could take off.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Does this sound easy to repair?

For anyone who actually repairs USB cables: www.monoprice.com.

If you're talking about repairing the USB port on electronics, I imagine it isn't much different than a 2.0 port: Nab a replacement USB 3.0 port, remove the old one, solder it on.

Maybe you meant something else or have more information beyond this article?

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

My reading comprehension fails.

ajy0903 said:

How about using this technology on internet service? cause its already happening in Asia

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Eddie_42 said:

Tom,

You make a great point. Even if the devices were upgraded, the SATA connection is 3gb/s, thats a long stretch from the 200mb/s SSD's or even platter drives.

Its nice to know that this technology is being developed, but it will take time to really see a need for it.

No, the SATA-II connection is 3 gigabits, which equals 375 megabytes

With SATA protocol overhead the limit is ca 260MB/sec, which most good SSD drives have already hit;

[link]

(Look at performance for 2MB sequential reads)

Guest said:

"Nobody will ever need more than 640K RAM!" - Bill Gates, 1981

TJGeezer said:

Bill Gates was right, of course. But isn't it fun to have more?

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Yes if most certainly is.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

"Nobody will ever need more than 640K RAM!" - Bill Gates, 1981

[link]

....on a lighter note, Guest once said.." why no!...I cant tell the difference from my *** and a hole in the ground"

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Nobody will ever need more than 640K RAM!" - Bill Gates, 1981
He probably still doesn't! He has "people" to use the additional RAM for him

[link]

....on a lighter note, Guest once said.." why no!...I cant tell the difference from my *** and a hole in the ground"

To which I might add, (for "guest's" benefit), and nobody should have the power to force you into even attempting to make that distinction either!

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Engadget had an article linking this with Apple and Intel, and hinted that by mid next year Apple computers could be using this for something.

Link here: [link]

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I guess my previous experience with fiber cables is clouding my understanding here, but how the hell can a fiber cable be more flexible? You can't (easily) put a tight 90 degree bend in fiber cable and still have it work well, as tight bends reduce the effective distance of fiber cables dramatically. If you go thinner (as the author suggests is possible) you run even greater risk of the optical fiber being damaged somewhere in the line, leading to complete failure of the cable. And, from my experiences, fiber cable was always more (often MUCH more) than standard copper cable... Along with the added cost and complexity required in getting proper end splices for cable connectors...

But, on the plus side, fiber is immune to electrical noise and interference, which is probably why such ridiculous transfer speeds can be made with tiny thin cables - no need for insulation, twisting pairs, etc.

Guest said:

That's stupid. Fiber is glass and cannot be bent more than a few degrees. Intel is going to have many upset customers when they have to return a broken cable within a week of using it. The fact of the matter is...it is completely possible to network your entire building with fiber optic cables at this point in time. The only problem is that fiber breaks too easily and could cause many problems in an area that is not as controlled as say, a big business or government facilities which may use fiber optics. In many cases if someone is even using fiber optic cables then the cable will be going from switch to switch and that is it. I don't see this being ground breaking technology because it is way too fragile for the normal user to handle.

akannitaoheed said:

It just occurred to me fibre has one main disadvantage, 'BENDS'. How will implementation of this technology deal with this. I just hope there's been some provision to deal with this or it might just end up a flop.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Optical tape for repairs? lol hmm.... yes, and all the circuitry on motherboards, videocards, soundcards, and well.. all circuit boards be replaced with fiber optics. We will be transferring speed as fast as light. Isnt that the fastest we could possibly transfer data? hmm.. joke. Or is it? O.o

EDO219 said:

It saves copper, so win!

nickblame said:

less cables beats a handful of cables but the deal breaker here is cost.

Elitassj4 said:

I've seen the prototype and i think is the way to go....certainly better than the USB 3

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