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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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By zephyrwind69 on 4/16/2010 2:03:52 AM , Rating: 2
Look at history-Metcalf said 40 years ago he didn't know what kind of cable he'd be using but it'd be Ethernet.

10Gb over copper is here today with Ethernet, they're planning 40Gb/s soon, like 1-2 years, and you can run storage and network over it today no problem. Why we need to go optical today eludes me. 5-10 years, yeah, but I'll stick to Ethernet and a multitude of plugs.

BTW, Cat5, 5e, and 6 all use the same RJ-45 plug which is pretty much setup to the same specs as every other one, not confusing at all. All 5e is a guarantee of bandwidth to 1Gb/s. Oh, and I've cabled my house with Cat-5E and run USB and Video over baluns to a PC in the other room....silence is golden.

This will be a localized connection only and a niche product for many years to come, especially if Intel starts chipset pricing high. There's so many competing standards that interconnecting this with the propietary cables, and adapters, would be too expensive.

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