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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 XZerg on 4/15/2010 11:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
Well if this the CABLE TO RULE 'EM ALL, then there are situations where the bandwidth would be not sufficient. One example would be monitors. DisplayPort already is at 17Gb/s+ To add to this would be running multiple monitors and wanting to daisy chain them. Or one cable going to the monitor that has "USB" connections too. Eventually when the SSD mature to provide an order of magnitude higher bandwidth, this will be good too.

Come to think of it, it would be nice if SATA is killed off too by this.

RE: Uses?
By afkrotch on 4/15/2010 10:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
Light Peak is set to start at 10 Gb/s and scale to 100 Gb/s. There's no point to go that high yet, as there's not a whole lot that can even push that much. 16x PCIe v3.0 can only go up to 16 Gb/s.

DisplayPort's max trasfer rate is only achievable with a 3m long cable. Light Peak is 100m long.

Intel has already shown off Light Peak running two 1080p streams, lan, and storage devices over a single 30m long cable. You're not going to run into many bandwith issues with 10 Gb/s speeds.

That speed, you can probably run like 100 1080p streams, lan, 10 SSD hdds, and god knows what else on a single cable.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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