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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 PAPutzback on 4/15/2010 10:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see using up the bandwidth but it needs to be available seeign as this will support multiple devices. I wonder if it can run into a hub. Then you might have your external SSD, video camera, keyboard... plugged in.

But at that kind of date rate why not just create one port for everything. Then we can start upgrading our cabling with fiber. It won't be long before houses are running SSDs in WHS and will need a fat backbone.

Optical has been out for so long, I don't know why it has taken so long to get into a pc other than for sound.

RE: Uses?
By Silver2k7 on 4/15/2010 11:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
Fiber Channel have been avalible for the high-end for quite some time, first generation since 1997 according to wikipedia.

"Fibre Channel signaling can run on both twisted pair copper wire and fiber-optic cables."

But yeah your point still stands optic is not really used in home PC's yet.

RE: Uses?
By mckirkus on 4/15/2010 11:43:11 AM , Rating: 2
I think we'll see SSDs easily cracking the 1GBytes/s barrier soon which would eat up 80% of the LightPeak bandwidth (that's 8x 1GBit/s). SATA 6G is new but it's 6Gbits/Second (minus overhead).

RE: Uses?
By afkrotch on 4/15/2010 10:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
The point of Light Peak is to have a single cable for all. Intel wants Light Peak to replace USB, DVI, VGA, CAT5, etc. I'm all for it, depending on device.

I would be fine with Light Peak for everything, except my mouse and keyboard. I put some real tight bends on those cables. Enough that it'd break fiber, if that were the cable.

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