Intel: Light Peak coming in 2011, to succeed USB 3.0

Intel this week demonstrated more of their upcoming Light Peak cable, a high-speed optical technology for interconnecting different electronic devices. The chip-maker stated that the technology would be ready for manufacturers by the end of this year and start shipping in 2011.

With USB 3.0 starting to come into the mix, some of have expressed doubts over how Light Peak would gain any prominence in the market. Intel answered those questions this week at their Intel Developer Forum: “We view Light Peak as a logical future successor to USB 3.0. In some sense we would like to build the last cable you will ever need,” said Kevin Kahn, Intel’s Director of Communications Technology Lab. 

USB 3.0 boasts backwards compatibility and is likely to see rapid adoption among vendors as the majority of peripherals today rely on USB 2.0. Investors have questioned how Light Peak could see penetration in the market given that fact and Kahn stated in his keynote speech that the two technologies would not conflict as Light Peak "enables USB and other protocols to run together on a single, longer cable and at higher speeds in the future.”

To demonstrate, Intel brought out a laptop connected to a Light Peak cable using a USB 3.0 port and simultaneously transmitted a Blu-Ray video, an HD video feed, and a mirrored display all onto another screen. The USB 3.0 port used in the laptop was still able to connect and use regular USB devices. Asked if the USB 3.0 port would be the standard port for Light Peak, Kahn replied that it was "a likely place to start because it is common" but that "you could take the size way, way down."

Light Peak currently tops out at 10 gigabits per second, twice that of what USB 3.0 is rated at. Intel claims that a 20Gbps version is in the works and that it can be scaled up to 10 times the current limit within the next decade. The company further stressed that electrical cables through copper are reaching their limits due to electromagnetic interference (EMI), thickness, and length and asserted that optical would come to replace them in the future as it transfers data through light instead of electricity. 

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42 Comments

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I wish they could come out with the 20Gbps version, Plus 4 copper cable to get enough power for the iPad. ( High Power USB 2 Spec ).

With 20Gbps, it could replace DisplayPort 2.0 as well, which means it will literally replace every single cable we use now.

acnpt said,
Would there be issuses withe bending the cables?

Not so much with Plastic Optical. ( It doesn't fix the problem, just much much better at it ) Although using it would means you can much shorter length.....( Instead of 100+M, you get 20 - 40M . )

If this can transmit built-in USB webcam and touchscreen sensor data back to the host computer then I guess this will be the final nail in the coffin for DisplayPort.

winlonghorn said,
Why is it a bad name? What would you have wanted them to call it? OptiPort? lol.

Something easier to say at least, preferably an acronym. ODI (Optical Data Interface), UOC (Universal Optical Connector), heck anything but the lame marketing name that is Light Peak.

cloaked said,
I'm surprised that light hasn't replaced copper already and that its taken this long.

There is a bit of a throttle control coming from the industry. They have to hold back on some stuff in order to ensure they have products that people want in the coming years. Also the cost of optical solutions has been prohibitively high in the past.

nice replacement for pretty much everything ...

100Gbit/sec damit ! wander when that will happen , after five to seven years ? or maybe less

LP link over power SATA3/USB3/Ethernet/HDMI?

This would be good for large data transfers to bigger external HDDs. I'll look into this when it's out if the price is good.

GP007 said,
This would be good for large data transfers to bigger external HDDs. I'll look into this when it's out if the price is good.
The write speed on the HDD would be the limiting factor and bring the speed all the way down, unless we see dramatic increases in read/write speeds or cache sizes, I'd say currently this would be better used for wired video connections as demonstrated in the youtube video.

this will be grate. now all we need is a way to run a CPU on light, then speeds would be phenomenal.
WARP 10 OVERCLOCKING IS IN THE FUTURE!

I will definitely be supporting this technology. I've been watching it for a few years now since it was first announced. It'll be great. Hopefully it'll get enough support from all the big guys and the consumers to become mainstream. How can it not? You'll see this installed in your pc's with two different connectors, one of them being the new one they introduce and the other being USB for older devices so they can still be supported. That's my guess

ObiWanToby said,
Perhaps this is why Intel has not jumped on board with USB 3.0. Intel 6 series chipsets are still without.

Exactly, this has been speculated before. No use rushing out USB 3 support if you want your own tech to gain that marketshare.

I'm looking forward to Light Peak personally. My laptop has an Ethernet port, a DVI port, a FireWire port and 2 USB ports. You could replace those with 5 USB-shaped Light Peak ports with slim cables and really fast speeds. I just hope they don't decide to change from using USB plugs later on.

Mike Brown said,
I'm looking forward to Light Peak personally. My laptop has an Ethernet port, a DVI port, a FireWire port and 2 USB ports. You could replace those with 5 USB-shaped Light Peak ports with slim cables and really fast speeds. I just hope they don't decide to change from using USB plugs later on.

I don't fancy those USB looking connectors. USB connectors are terrible because you can't tell which way you're supposed to plug in because it looks the same from both sides, unlike FireWire connector which is clearly different from one side. Not to mention I'd rather see smaller connectors becoming the norm. The mini-USB for example is much better because it is clearly shaped so you don't try to stick it in the wrong way by accident.

In any case if the technology works as promised (a number of ports that can do a number of things) it would be great because we could get rid of all this HDMI/DVI/Displayport/USB/FireWire/VGA crap and simply use one connector type for everything plus adapters for our old devices.

LaXu said,

I don't fancy those USB looking connectors. USB connectors are terrible because you can't tell which way you're supposed to plug in because it looks the same from both sides, unlike FireWire connector which is clearly different from one side.

Eh? Firewire does not have a different plug on each end unless it's a 4-pin to 6-pin cable. There's 4-pin to 4-pin and 6-pin to 6-pin. Firewire is a just a date cable, whereas USB is a data bus.

Mike Brown said,
. I just hope they don't decide to change from using USB plugs later on.
I do, why use a big ass usb port when you could use something much slimmer.

LaXu said,

I don't fancy those USB looking connectors. USB connectors are terrible because you can't tell which way you're supposed to plug in because it looks the same from both sides,

The USB logo always faces up. Or vertical ones on laptops are towards you.

smithy_dll said,

The USB logo always faces up. Or vertical ones on laptops are towards you.

That's not very helpful when you're trying to connect one in the dark, and not at all with things like USB flash drives that have no such logo. The USB plug was a terrible design. The Firewire connector was much better; it's a shame Apple doomed it to failure with their greed.

Edited by Rigby, Apr 16 2010, 12:24am :

LaXu said,
I don't fancy those USB looking connectors. USB connectors are terrible because you can't tell which way you're supposed to plug in because it looks the same from both sides, unlike FireWire connector which is clearly different from one side. Not to mention I'd rather see smaller connectors becoming the norm. The mini-USB for example is much better because it is clearly shaped so you don't try to stick it in the wrong way by accident.

Yeah, I'd like something smaller like something mini-USB shaped, but USB is so commonplace these days it's not even funny.

On a sidenote: wasn't USB meant to solve the problem of too many connectors in the first place?

smithy_dll said,

The USB logo always faces up. Or vertical ones on laptops are towards you.

NO... they are not Always facing up. My Sager laptop had usb ports that faced down due to them installing the motherboard upside down. (Yes, they did this on purpose!) also my front plugs on my new quad core are upside down also. (Not sure why)

Luis Mazza said,

Great, so we can all check out the zits, veins and bad make up. Very hot! .../not

So do you avoid women in real life also, because that's far higher resolution than 1080P.

Maybe you should stop downloading cheap trailer park porn.

I don't see how this would be the last cable I'll ever need. How will an optical cable power my external hard drive? Charge my blackberry? Set audio to my USB headphones? You can't send electricity over light, so unless they run coper inside the cables as well to provide power, I don't see how this will take off, especially with small portable harddrives, because not everyone wants to carry around a power adapter or a second cable.

Joey H said,
I don't see how this would be the last cable I'll ever need. How will an optical cable power my external hard drive? Charge my blackberry? Set audio to my USB headphones? You can't send electricity over light, so unless they run coper inside the cables as well to provide power, I don't see how this will take off, especially with small portable harddrives, because not everyone wants to carry around a power adapter or a second cable.

Just add some coppers to the wire. For power it's no problem since there doesn't have to be any data on it, so interference etc are not a factor.

Joey H said,
I don't see how this would be the last cable I'll ever need. How will an optical cable power my external hard drive? Charge my blackberry? Set audio to my USB headphones? You can't send electricity over light, so unless they run coper inside the cables as well to provide power, I don't see how this will take off, especially with small portable harddrives, because not everyone wants to carry around a power adapter or a second cable.

The lightpeak wire will have a copper wire that will be used just for power.