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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: Go Intel!!!! One cable to rule them all!
By Believer on 4/15/2010 2:28:38 PM , Rating: 3
I really doubt this will turn into the ONE CABLE TO RULE THEM ALL... simply because despite of all the bandwidth available in fiber it still doesn't supply any power to these devices.

So if you still need an additional power cable from PC or an external adapter to wall socket, then this one cable can never rule supreme in singular.

Electrical cables, such as USB and PoE (Power over Ethernet), will still have their niche set when you want the true simplicity of only ONE CABLE TO RULE THEM ALL... regarding external devices at least. Internal proprietary communication cables such as SATA better watch out though :)


RE: Go Intel!!!! One cable to rule them all!
By XZerg on 4/15/2010 3:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
I was expecting someone to post this. I am sure that Intel will provide a means to send power too over the same cable, i.e. Copper wire for power and Fiber Optic for data transmission. If not then this will be DOA otherwise imho.


RE: Go Intel!!!! One cable to rule them all!
By Believer on 4/15/2010 5:55:57 PM , Rating: 1
I doubt they would introduce an integrated electrical solution into the same cable. It doesn't do much good for the cable overall.

1) You'd almost have to have several types introduced where the electrical wire part are designed to cater to the different power situations this technology could otherwise cover. As example a monitor, GPU and a HDD does have quite different power requirements I believe. And sub-categories and different standards within the same cable is bad for the simplicity and the adoption of the technology.

2) Adding electrical components will disable the favourable intrinsics that a pure optical transmission would have. You would hence again have to design with electrical noise and EMI susceptibility and such in mind just like for any other electrical cable to be used in consumer market.

I do not think this Light Peak tech will ever host any integrated power transmission capability; unless heavily augmenting technology where you excite electrons by wavelengths found in the fiber optic spectrum makes a giant leap into the consumer market, or something equally unlikely occurs.

But a DOA tech? Nah, far from it. Compare to any of the xATA-cables out there; they have all had power separate and they're still successful.

So I hold true to my above statement; This tech will not make all other cables obsolete, but it is a welcomed introduction none the less.

Now hurry and integrate it to the PCB so that we can advance the field of optical on-chip communication buses too!


By afkrotch on 4/15/2010 10:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
1) I'm sure your monitors and 3.5" hdd enclosures will still require an external power supply. Intel is probably just pushing to run enough power for things like a usb key or 2.5" hdd. The same kind of thing we are doing now.

It'd be stupid to try and power a monitor, 3.5" hdds, etc through the cable. It'd mean, we'd need large PSUs inside our computers, as they'd have to power these other external devices.

2) You don't lose anything. The fiber will be the only data transmission line. The copper line is purely just for power purposes.


By foolsgambit11 on 4/15/2010 5:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
The Wikipedia article suggests that the fiber may be encased in a copper braid to provide both protection to the fiber and power to the device.


By afkrotch on 4/15/2010 10:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
Intel is working on having the Light Peak with an additional copper cable for power. At least, according to Wiki.


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