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Light Peak supports multiple protocols at once on a single cable

The speed that computer can send data to other devices is very important. Each year, software and backups for many consumers and businesses grow in size and the huge amount of HD media consumed expands as well. With the increased file sizes being streamed to external devices and sent to external storage, faster connectivity options are needed.

The first step in faster communications between a computer and external devices is USB 3.0. This faster port is still not widespread in machines today because there are no motherboard chipsets with USB 3.0 integrated – motherboards that do support 3.0 use costly add-in chips. There are a number of add-in cards and adapters available that let manufacturers and end-users utilize USB 3.0 though.

Intel is already looking past USB 3.0 to an even faster method of transferring data and to and from a computer that uses optical signals called Light Peak. These optical cables will at first be used side-by-side in machines with USB 3.0, though Intel does believe Light Peak is the logical successor to USB 3.0.

Intel's Kevin Kahn said, "We view this as a logical future successor to USB 3.0. In some sense we'd... like to build the last cable you'll ever need."

The most interesting feature of Light Peak is that the cable is capable of supporting many protocols at the same time. For instance, the single Light Peak optical cable can support USB and SATA simultaneously. The cable also has enough bandwidth to stream a full HD digital movie, a feed from a HD camera, and duplicate the desktop of a laptop all at once.

A prototype laptop featuring Light Peak was on display at a speech Kahn gave at IDF in Beijing. The prototype used a USB 3.0 port with extra hardware to allow it to detect optical transmissions. The port can also be connected to standard USB 3.0 hardware as well.

Light Peak is capable of transferring data at 10Gbps, enough bandwidth to stream a full-length Blu-ray film in 30 seconds. Intel believes that the speed could be upped to ten times that 10Gbps number in the next ten years. Light Peak will be available late this year and partners will start shipping devices using Light Peak next year.

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RE: Uses?
By corduroygt on 4/15/2010 10:44:08 AM , Rating: 5
Apple will put a bunch of them in their laptops and you'll be required to buy:

1. lightpeak to ethernet
2. lightpeak to usb
3. lightpeak to vga/dvi/hdmi/displayport
4. lightpeak to firewire
5. lightpeak to 3.5mm stereo jack
6. lightpeak to SD

Dongles at $39 each to be able to hook up your Mac to anything.

RE: Uses?
By Phynaz on 4/15/2010 10:52:36 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, two posts to turn this into a totally unrelated Apple bash.

Good job.

RE: Uses?
By SublimeSimplicity on 4/15/2010 11:51:52 AM , Rating: 4
Often unrelated, never undeserved.

RE: Uses?
By Samus on 4/22/2010 3:16:56 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if they'll make the sheathing of two conductive layers to stream electricity through, because one of the requirements to replace USB will obviously require power delivery...maybe more than 5v 500ma this time.

RE: Uses?
By rninneman on 4/15/2010 11:53:48 AM , Rating: 4
Maybe because Apple asked Intel to develop Light Peak. The original Intel Light Peak demo was shown on a Hackintosh.

RE: Uses?
By rninneman on 4/15/2010 11:56:11 AM , Rating: 5
Here is a link for you to do some more reading before posting uninformed comments.

RE: Uses?
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/15/2010 1:21:10 PM , Rating: 2

Although Light Peak is early in its development, Intel demonstrated a fully functional system at the 2009 Intel Developer Forum (IDF). Their demonstrations were being run on a prototype Mac Pro motherboard, using Light Peak to run two 1080p video streams, LAN and storage devices over a single 30 m long cable.[16] At the show, Intel claimed that Light Peak equipped systems will begin to appear in 2010.[17]

Intel has designed a prototype PCI-E card for desktop PCs as an add-on. This would mean many people wouldn't need to buy a new motherboard for the new cable type. The card has two optical buses powering 4 ports. These PCI-E cards will have the same bandwidth 10Gbps as the built in motherboard chips and ports[citation needed].[18]
[edit] Disputed origins

Although the history is not yet well recorded, shortly after the IDF presentation technology blog Engadget reported that Light Peak had been developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple. The article claimed that Apple had been working on the technology since 2007, around the time that ClearCurve was introduced, and that Apple CEO Steve Jobs personally asked Intel CEO Paul Otellini to take up development of the system as a new standard, stating that an all-optical interconnect was the only way to proceed.[19]

However, cnet later reported that other "industry sources" dispute this claim. This report states that Apple was contacted by Intel as part of an ongoing effort to introduce its industry partners and garner additional feedback. Sony was also mentioned at the IDF in this context, Apple was not mentioned at all.[19][20]

In any event, Intel has suggested that systems using Light Peak are already being designed, and there are rumors that Apple intends to introduce Light Peak-equipped systems in Q4 of 2010.[19] In addition to the demonstrated system, Intel has also announced that they will introduce a smaller low-power version for portable devices in 2011. They have also stated that the system will allow future expansion to 100 Gbps throughput.[21]

RE: Uses?
By Drag0nFire on 4/15/2010 1:42:34 PM , Rating: 2
Give the man a 6. This is a work of pure beauty.

RE: Uses?
By cfaalm on 4/17/2010 3:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
While the irony is misplaced, the theory isn't even bad. I mean if a couple of these ports are on the side of a Macbook or any laptop then you, the consumer, can decide which (extra) ports you need. Even breakout box with various connections might be possible. This will make everything much more versatile.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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