Intel bets on Light Peak

April 16, 2010 | 09:51

Tags: #fiber-optic #fibre-optic #idf #light-peak #lightpeak #optical #usb-3 #usb-30

Companies: #intel

The rumour that Intel isn't looking to implement USB 3.0 into its chipsets until 2012 may have received substantiation in the forum of the company's very public commitment to its own Light Peak technology.

Intel senior fellow Kevin Kahn, speaking at the Intel Developer Forum and quoted by PCWorld, described the company's up-coming optical cable technology as "a logical future successor to USB 3.0," and claimed that Intel was hoping that Light Peak would represent "the last cable you'll ever need."

With Light Peak representing in-house technology, there are certainly a raft of reasons for Intel to be hoping that the standard takes off: not least of which would be that Intel itself wouldn't have to pay royalties on its use, while the company's competitors would be required to send cheques Intel's way if they wanted compatibility with the standard.

Intel claims that it isn't out to steal USB 3.0's lunch, however, but does point out that Light Peak itself supports multiple protocols over a single cable - including the USB standard.

The technology offers consumers advantages over USB, too: due to its optical nature, Light Peak is significantly less fussy about cable lengths than USB; maximum data throughput is significantly increased too, with the technology currently maxing out at 10Gb/s compared to USB 3.0's 4.8Gb/s - and Intel is working on increasing that speed still further.

Kahn claims that Intel expects "both [Light Peak and USB 3.0] to exist together in the market and perhaps on the same platform at the same time," although with plans afoot to launch an industry group to promote the standard as early as next year, we could see Intel chipsets introducing Light Peak support before USB 3.0.

Do you think that optical cabling is the future for high-speed connectivity, or is Intel betting on the wrong horse with Light Peak? Should it stop trying to push its own standard and hurry up with USB 3.0 support in its chipsets? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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