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Intel's Optical Tech May Arrive Next Year

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 33 comments

Intel's Light Peak technology--slated to debut in Q1 2010--could combine current connectors such as USB, HDMI, and Ethernet using fiber optics.

Last month, Intel revealed its new Light Peak technology, a fiber optic universal connector for computers and other devices. As Intel states on its official website, Light Peak connectors deliver high bandwidth starting at 10 Gb/sec. with the potential ability to scale to 100 Gb/sec. over the next decade. To put this speed in perspective, 10 Gb/sec. can transfer a Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds.

However, when Intel showcased the new technology last month, it wasn't immediately apparent that manufacturers would have a product ready by next year. But according to CNET, Taiwanese optical networking company Foci Fiber Optic Communication will indeed be locked and loaded for mass production sometime around the beginning of 2010. Then again, it shouldn't be surprising: the company was responsible for supplying the components used in Intel's demonstration during the Intel Developers Forum.

Outside the transfer speeds, what' the big deal about Light Peak? In addition to connecting devices and PCs, the technology can perform the same tasks as today's USB, but also connect monitors and networks in the same process. If Light Peak could become an industry standard, Intel's technology could very well fuse together HDMI, FireWire, USB, DVI, Ethernet, DisplayPort, and more. Currently Intel is working on standardizing Light Peak through the USB Implementers Forum.

As for Foci's Light Peak connector getting ready for Q1 2010, its cables will use USB connectors, but not the actual USB cables. Currently the big concern from an industry standpoint is how the Light Peak optical cables will hold up to the consumer market. "The cables are quite durable, and can be connected and disconnected for at least 7,000 times," said Foci's vice president of business development, Janpu Hou. He also added that the company seeks to drop the price to an acceptable level by consumers.

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    icepick314 , October 8, 2009 6:46 PM
    vorlessI dont want to spend $1,000 dollars a foot for wire.(My guess.)


    they aren't Monster brand cables...
  • 11 Hide
    tayb , October 8, 2009 6:35 PM
    Hm. I understand why they wanted to go with USB but I think it will get pretty confusing for customers. We'll have USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and Intel Light Peak that all look the exact same.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    wildwell , October 8, 2009 6:29 PM
    Awesome! What about cost?

    And, when can we get these speeds w/o ANY cables?
  • 2 Hide
    doomtomb , October 8, 2009 6:31 PM
    Bring it on
  • 0 Hide
    08nwsula , October 8, 2009 6:32 PM
    I'm surprised Sony is using standard connections and not trying to create some new technology that would surely suck.
  • 11 Hide
    tayb , October 8, 2009 6:35 PM
    Hm. I understand why they wanted to go with USB but I think it will get pretty confusing for customers. We'll have USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and Intel Light Peak that all look the exact same.
  • -1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , October 8, 2009 6:45 PM
    This looks cool , but it also means I have to buy a bunch of new shit... again.
  • 22 Hide
    icepick314 , October 8, 2009 6:46 PM
    vorlessI dont want to spend $1,000 dollars a foot for wire.(My guess.)


    they aren't Monster brand cables...
  • -2 Hide
    notzaar , October 8, 2009 6:48 PM
    I don't see how this could replace USB, it seems kind of expensive and USB works just fine. Could be useful for network cables and A/V signals.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2009 7:08 PM
    @Zingam
    Just keep your usb devices for that.
  • 2 Hide
    XD_dued , October 8, 2009 7:24 PM
    Maybe they'll one day replace pci express O_o
  • 4 Hide
    peterkidd , October 8, 2009 7:34 PM
    Quote:
    zingham:
    7000 disconnects and reconnects isn't that much!!! for monitors it's OK
    For USB devices like mice and other peripherals on laptops the number would be top low.


    It would take you 6 years to reach that number if you disconnected and reconnected 3 times a day. Nineteen years if you only disconnected and reconnected once.
  • -2 Hide
    phatboe , October 8, 2009 7:42 PM
    What I don't understand is why can't they use standard ethernet cables (RJ-45) as a kind of universal standard for connecting devices like monitors, mice, printers and other peripherals. I don't know much about the standard but it RJ-45 cables have plenty of bandwidth, low latency, and are already being mass produced and has seen wide spread adoption over the years. All that would need to happen is for some standards body to create some kind of Universal protocol over RJ-45.
  • 3 Hide
    Platypus , October 8, 2009 7:46 PM
    I think someone posted about this the last time these cables were discussed in an article, but these could be a great way to get an external graphics card solution for laptops.
  • 4 Hide
    Kelavarus , October 8, 2009 7:48 PM
    At least 7,000? Unacceptable.

    I demand OVER 9000!!!
  • -1 Hide
    Supertrek32 , October 8, 2009 8:13 PM
    New cables are great, but they aren't the bottleneck, so just changing the cable doesn't solve anything. Using current ethernet cables, you can transfer approx 128MB/s. (Mainstream) hard drives are just now scraping this transfer rate, and only for short periods of time.

    It's nice to know we've got room to improve, but if this is targeting mainstream consumers it's ahead of its time. Why would I pay more money for a cable if I can't notice any difference?
  • 1 Hide
    zak_mckraken , October 8, 2009 8:18 PM
    @phatboe : Power. USB cables carry up to 5v (500mA). That's why cables are usually 6 to 15 feet long (the maximum without losing signal being around 30 feet). Cat-5 cables aren't powered but can carry a 100mhz signal up to 328 feets. Different need, different cables.
  • -2 Hide
    Supertrek32 , October 8, 2009 8:21 PM
    PS, that 128MB/s is based solely off gigabit network speeds. Wish I'd remembered to write that... also wish there was an edit button...
  • 3 Hide
    notzaar , October 8, 2009 8:30 PM
    XD_duedMaybe they'll one day replace pci express O_o

    External video cards huh? Might not be such a bad idea, at the rate they're growing in size.
  • 2 Hide
    Honis , October 8, 2009 8:32 PM
    I can't wait to see what the guy at Best Buy tells me to get me to buy the Monster Cables version.

    "The gold plated optical fiber helps reflect the light in the cable so that the signal is a higher strength."
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , October 8, 2009 9:24 PM
    Future vision: close to fully optical computers like the ones in the movie 'virtuosity', or the computers Superman's native people were using.
  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , October 8, 2009 9:27 PM
    That's it, I'm gonna patent the above idea! Yes, I know movies have already shown that, but those were movies, science fiction (call superman science, ha ha), I have a true idea about this at work. I am just sorry big evil corporations will rob me of my ideas before I have implemented anything. But I'll wait a few years and sue them all!
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