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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 jonmcc33 on 4/15/2010 2:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
If I recall, a single PCI-E lane is only capable of 250Mbps transfer speed.

250MB/s actually and that's for PCIe 1.X. PCIe 2.0 has 500MB/s per lane. But nothing external that I know of has transfer rates that fast.

RE: Uses?
By Anoxanmore on 4/15/2010 3:31:25 PM , Rating: 2
Firewire comes to mind... 1.6-3.2Gbps :)

RE: Uses?
By foolsgambit11 on 4/15/2010 5:49:40 PM , Rating: 3
500MB/s (capital b) is 4Gbps. Firewire peaks a 3.2Gbps, which is 400MB/s.

Though I wonder if the OP didn't mean the actual peripherals, and not the external connection protocol. What peripherals actually demand 4Gbps? I guess monitors? 24bit color, 1080p at 80fps is about 4Gbps.

RE: Uses?
By Aikouka on 4/15/2010 3:56:37 PM , Rating: 2
I appreciate the clarification, it seems my knowledge was based on the P55 chipset ( ), which uses reduced speeds. Not including my failing to remember 'b' versus 'B' :P.

So that means it'd take about 3 PCI-E 2.0 lanes to fulfill the bandwidth required by this new spec. That should be possible to work into boards based on the X58 chipset.

RE: Uses?
By afkrotch on 4/15/2010 10:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
So it's actually B and not b? I'm getting confused, cause I'm looking at a bunch of different sources and they don't seem to know there is a difference between B and b.

I don't like looking at a single source and instead look at multiple.

RE: Uses?
By AnnihilatorX on 4/16/2010 4:23:51 AM , Rating: 2
B and b is defintely different in computing terms. b is bit and B is bytes, which is either 8 (universal definition) or 10 bits (in SATA for example using 8/10 coding)

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