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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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Proprietary, Exotic, Expensive, Exclusive
By Sahrin on 4/15/2010 1:16:21 PM , Rating: 3
And people wonder why Intel has been dragging their feet with USB3 implementation (first the host controller, now deploying it to Chipsets)?

Because everytime someone uses USB3, Intel doesn't get paid royalties.

Technologically impressive though it may be, this looks to be another disgusting abuse of Intel's monopoly power and I hope the FTC beats the crap out of them for it.

(Important Note: It's not 100% clear how Intel will market this product, but every indication is that they are going to unleash a new proprietary interface on the marketplace, for which Intel will be the only provider. Since they already control 85%+ of the market, it will become the de facto standard...and no one will be able to sell a computer without support for Light Peak).




RE: Proprietary, Exotic, Expensive, Exclusive
By kemche on 4/15/2010 4:12:25 PM , Rating: 2
That's dumb. If Intel is the only vendor, you do realize that it will fail. They have to open/license the spec. If they don't how are Camera, HDD, SSD, etc vendors are going to integrate into their device.


By Sahrin on 4/15/2010 6:55:21 PM , Rating: 2
"That's dumb. If Intel is the only vendor, you do realize that it will fail. They have to open/license the spec. If they don't how are Camera, HDD, SSD, etc vendors are going to integrate into their device."

By selling them the host controller? That's the way USB works. Intel designs a Host Conroller, and gives it away for free. There's no indication that they're going to do the same for Light Peak, and because Intel has control of the chipset market (85% share) they decide what interconnects are used.


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