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Intel demos Light Peak equipped laptop at IDF

By Jos ยท 20 replies
Apr 14, 2010
  1. Last September, Intel announced a high-speed optical cable interface for PCs called Light Peak that promised a 10Gb/s transfer rate -- or twice the speed of USB 3.0 -- with the potential ability to scale to 100Gb/s in the next ten years. The technology is being developed as a way to reduce the proliferation of ports on modern computers, and could eventually replace the plethora of interfaces currently used, from USB itself to HDMI, DisplayPort, LAN, and so on.

    Read the whole story
  2. compdata

    compdata TechSpot Paladin Posts: 529   +7

    The idea of combining different standards over high speed fiber link has some definite merits. I would be curious to know and see how the cabling would work? How do you add another device if you only have one output port? Do you just chain devices like SCSI or GPIB? The vision of a thumb drive with an input and output port chained in between my monitors leaves me strangely unenthused. :)
  3. Timonius

    Timonius TS Evangelist Posts: 647   +58

    And THAT, people, is why Intel is dragging it's a** on USB 3.0 adoption. Stop whining and get used to it. Other companies will come up with other ideas and continue to compete with the latest and greatest technologies.
  4. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,632   +689

    "The technology is being developed as a way to reduce the proliferation of ports on modern computers, and could eventually replace the plethora of interfaces currently used, from USB itself to HDMI, DisplayPort, LAN, and so on."

    Amen to that. I'll wait on USB 3.0 if it means eventually my PC case won't resemble a damn snake pit.
  5. it seams like something out of James Cameron's Avatar
  6. Tekkaraiden

    Tekkaraiden TS Evangelist Posts: 997   +93

    Not really, fiber optic technology has been around for over 30 years.
  7. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 515   +9

    Scientist at intel are pretty bright, i'm sure they'll figure it out
  8. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +280

    I just have to laugh at how good Intel's public relations spin department is... They insist there is no conflict between Light Peak and USB 3.0, yet they have conspicuously refused to support native USB 3.0, requiring 3rd party or external (to the motherboard) hardware to provide the USB 3.0 interface.

    Bravo, Intel. Make yourself sound like a chummy good guy, while blatantly snubbing your competition. I'm sure nobody but me noticed.
  9. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    If the tech has more going forward than the plethora of alternatives...then, great. Bring it on.
    If it means that I have to do away with SCSI, GbLAN, IEEE-1394a and b, DP, mini-DP, eSATA, MIDI, USB Type A, B, Mini-A, Mini-B, Micro AB, Micro B, SuperSpeed, HDMI 1.whatever the next iteration is etc. and I guess I'll have to put up with easier/longer/more flexible cabling, signals unaffected by electical noise, higher bandwidth, low/no power/better connectivity and a simplified protocol standard......what a bind!

    Since Intel are part of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) that set the standards for USB in the first place, maybe they recognised that a USB had a limited future.

    Maybe they have an inkling on how to run their business. While their competition's roadmaps slip and slide like a geriatric zimmer frame wielding ice skater*, Intel largely follow through in both timetable and specification (Larabee possibly excepted).

    * Display Port -introduction 2006- widespread uptake?
    HDMI -introduction 2002- SIX revisions so far (for bitstreaming, 4k x 2k, DTS etc.)- a revision seemingly required for every industry standard added and still hasn't supplanted DVI, or for that matter DE-15.
  10. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    Back in 1982 I purchased ,to my memory, the first CD player from sony...it had M*A*S*H (multi-stage noiseshaping technology] when it was first out....remember that? anyway even back then that player had a fiber optic out on it that proved to be useful only for making a red spot on the wall behind it if you lost the plug. Now this was almost 30 years ago and Daniel Colladon came up with this about a 150 years ago. I wonder who got paid what to sit on it as far as consumer electronics? anyone know?
  11. Regenweald

    Regenweald TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Even though intel is deliberately quashing usb3, I don't really mind if it is to roll out light Peak this year. Bye bye latency and a million and one 'standard' connections. This Sh*t will rock. (hopefully)
  12. captainawesome

    captainawesome TS Guru Posts: 428   +44

    Yeah very curious indeed that it has taken so long for companies to start thinking of actually USING the beauty of light in terms of data transmission for more than an audio interface. Red1776 had it right. Why is it that I've had an optical output on my audio systems for several years whilst the bulky and cumbersome outputs of display terminals have just pretty much remained the same. To this day 90% of users have some need for VGA cables or adapters.

    But I've got another question for the masses. The output of this interface is going to be "10 gbps" That is 4 more than our current SATA3 (the latest harddrive comms interface). Why aren't we using optical tech INSIDE our computers for HDD's etc? Been wondering on that one for years.

    I vote: "to hell with display port - switch to optical".
  13. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    More a case of a great idea that lacked the technology to adequately implement it.
    I remember a lot of early CD players (and AV receivers in my case) had TOSLINK / optical S/PDIF connections but very, very rarely ever saw anything to connect them to (outside of each other). This article might go some way to explaining the problems -bear in mind it is from 2004, so it's fairly safe to assume that reliable data transmission has had some large tech hurdles to overcome.
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    Thanks for the link DBZ, I have read articles very similar to that over the years. I have just been puzzled that my Sony CD player in 1982 ( or as the article told me I must have purchased it in 83) had TOSLINK interfaces, which seemed to indicate that their was a reasonable expectation that the tech was close to being implemented. And that fiber optic cables having been buried for years now, leads me to believe that there was more to it than just technical hurdles. ah speculation is fun. On the not so tech side....isn't amazing that it doesn't seem to matter if its copper,carbon, silicon or quartz , the hurdle always seems to come down to some form of valve float :)
  15. Intel's roadmap has slipped more than once or developed products that went nowhere.
    However, their manufacturing muscle allows them to recover from missteps with fewer consequences than the competition.
    It was AMD, not Intel, who gave us the x86-64 platform, when Chipzilla was going to do away
    with their x86 mainstay to pursue a dream of an Itanic-only world.

    And Larrabee? Intel has tried to break into the performance graphics market before.
    Ever heard of the i740, back in 1998? It sank quicker than the real Titanic.
  16. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +280

    I think maybe you missed my point. You can't make a statement like this, their competition isn't a company with a roadmap, it's an entire industry STANDARD. That yes, they helped ratify. That is available NOW and has more products supporting it constantly. I mean, come on, the U in USB is "Universal" here! :)

    Their most direct "competition" to LightPeak is USB 3.0. So Intel has conspicuously left any native USB 3.0 support out, requiring everyone down the chain to jump through some hoops or other to get that USB 3.0 hardware interfacing. Why not support 3.0 until their technology is up to speed and actually available to the public? Oh, right, because they don't want this industry standard to get more of a foothold in the market. It's like a war of attrition against 3.0, all the while acting the buddy and saying they can live together in peace and harmony... The 2-faced PR tactic is my beef with Intel on this story. It's a business, I know how it goes, but don't pretend not to have complete disdain for competitive products, or that you aren't snubbing them to make your product more attractive later, ya know?

    And, for the record, I think LightPeak is great - it shows massive promise, and I guarantee that when it hits, I'll be trying it out. But that is WHEN it hits, and has supporting hardware available. For right now, I'll be settling for some readily available USB 3.0 equipment when/if I need the improved speeds and throughput.
  17. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    An industry standard with a myriad of connectivity missteps. Light Peak isn't just about USB as I pointed out earlier....but of course, the Intelhate needs a target does it not...
    Pray tell, why aren't you tarring and feathering AMD as well ? Since the 890GX/FX series also don't support USB 3 natively either. Most board makers seem to be opting for the NEC controller. Since the SB850 is/will be the latest-and-greatest offering from AMD why not offer native support ?
    Let me offer an opinion...Both Intel and AMD probably don't see a great need for USB 3 connectivity since the number of USB3 enabled devices is likely to be very low indeed. Flash drives? what's the point ? in general they have no onboard controller to allow parallel execution. Add in ECC and wear-leveling and you're talking SSD prices for a fraction of the capacity. Hard drives ? conventional eSATA 3Gb/sec outstrips USB3, and that's without taking SATA 6Gb into account...which brings us to the fact that both Intel and AMD will be offering SATA 6Gb native support on their next chipsets
    Sounds fairly unequivocal to me. Personally I can't see a problem. Board partners are still going to include third party USB3 controllers that offer the same functionality- or do you envisage the new Intel chipset doing away with USB 2.0, 3, SATA ? FFS ! most Intel boards still have IDE and FDD controllers. When was the last time anyone used a Serial or COM port, or for that matter IEEE-1394a ? Most Intel boards still include at least two of the three.
    But of course, any Intel (or nVidia) post needs a heaping helping of indignation and FUD...but lest we be portrayed as an AMD apologist we need to end the post with the concession to the opposing side...even if it's laced heavily with proviso's
    Well done. You'd make a lovely PR flack...
    (/golf clap)
  18. Zeromus

    Zeromus TS Booster Posts: 227   +7

    Wouldn't it be a helluva lot more of a risk to break a fiber optic cable? Oh well, how often does someone rip apart a USB cable for that matter?
  19. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    If a fibre optic cable breaks or is compromised, you lose part, or all of the data transmission. If a USB cable is compromised then the risk is frying either (or both) the motherboard controller, possibly the board itself and/or the device on the other end if it is powered.
    Fibre optic cables are tougher than USB simply because each fibre needs it's own cladding (to stop light bleeding across the filaments that creates cross-talk) as well as multiple sheaving, usually incorporating kevlar or Aramid (or similar) to ensure that the cable retains integrity- mostly to stop moisture penetrating. Most fibre optic/TOSLINK cables are fairly inflexible, feature better build quality and are fairly well "armoured" compared with USB cables.
  20. peas

    peas TS Enthusiast Posts: 51

    Light Peak sounds promising in theory. But...

    Fiber cables have been proposed in the past and have always been rejected by the market.
    1) Fiber is inherently more expensive than copper. Not just the cable, but the optical transceivers at both ends.
    2) Fiber is more delicate and cables break more easily. Cables go through alot of abuse. Copper can withstand it, fiber can not.

    Intel tried pushing Infiniband years ago and it failed miserably. Guess why? Too complicated and expensive. I'll give you one guess why something like Light Peak is going to take many, many years to become established.
  21. USB 3.0 is perfect for the current, and near future software & hardware market. USB 3.0 distribution is certainly becoming more common and is affordable. This light use is still a dream and only consumer vaporware with an abusive Intel marketing hype trying to keep the Light Peak benefits in the propeller edge forums, but this is expensive future technology.

    Software is lagging, it is not helping the consumers to use or take advantage of the current 64-bit CPU multi-core hardware that has been in the marketplace the last 2 or more years. I would bet there are a dozen more workable ideas that could improve the hardware performance, but right now we need new software to use the capabilities of the current 64-bit hardware.

    Tis sad Intel has taken this track rather than bringing their engineering skills for the current USB 3.0 technology to market. It is always wonderful to see the future, but we live today, and Intel's stockholders should be screaming for Intel to be participated in USB 3.0 instead of adopting the spoiled child altitude...

    The 2TB 6Gb/s hard drives are in the market and we are watching their prices come down, and they fit nicely into a $40 external USB 3.0 case... I am excited about the prospects of assembling a 4TB external raid for 6Gb/s drives of my choice for less than $800 in the very near future...

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