Intel's Light Peak To Challenge USB 3.0 Next Year

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News Posted: Fri, Apr 16 2010 9:23 AM
Intel never really has been one to sit in the back while someone else takes charge, and while that has generally only applied to the CPU world, now Intel is getting their feet into all sorts of other ventures. Look at Light Peak: ten years ago, no one would've expected for Intel to develop their own transmission protocol, but now, it's a forthcoming reality.

We had heard before that Light Peak, a fiber-based transfer solution that could reach insane speeds, may ship as early as 2010, and now we're beginning to hear what Intel has planned. Kevin Kahn, an Intel senior fellow, stated at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing this week that Light Peak won't ship in partner devices until next year (they'll get the tech this year to start testing, though), but when it lands, we can expect some big moves. He stated that Intel views this "as a logical future successor to USB 3.0," and "in some sense we'd... like to build the last cable you'll ever need."

That's pretty big words from a company that has never taken on the USB-IF before. USB is a widely recognized and widely used port, and challenging that dominance won't be easy. But using optical strands instead of traditional cabling may be coming sooner or later anyway, as transfer demands go up, media gets larger, and typical cables run out of bandwidth.

Of course, Kahn doesn't really expect to totally wipe USB off of the face of the Earth. He expects the two to "exist together in the market and perhaps on the same platform at the same time," but he probably prefers you use Light Peak whenever you can. And while the USB 3.0 demonstrations that we have seen have been impressive, Light Peak still crushes it: during an IDF demo, a laptop was able to stream Blu-ray content, a feed from an HD camera and a duplication of the laptop's display over a single Light Peak connection. A full BD movie could be transferred in half a minute over the cable, which USB 3.0 certainly could not do.

You know you live in crazy times when a better technology is already being demonstrated before the "current best one" has even hit the mainstream.
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Except it is fiber. As I have said before, fiber is not the way to go for home users with the current state of fiber lines. Glass lines are way to fragile for the abuse your average home user will heap on it and plastic lines have serious length and speed issues, without being a while lot tougher.

Now for networking, if run like utilities through the walls/ceiling, then this is great.

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Kyouya replied on Fri, Apr 16 2010 12:09 PM

why do I have a feeling this is going to fail just like how firewire failed when apple introduced it to challenge USB 2.0?

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Fiber optic won't be available for the masses anytime soon, that's why ASUS and Gigabyte and even other mobo's that will soon follow suit will have to be the best home access to USB 3.0. Unless of course you go with the USB 3.0 external kits.

Sure, Fiber optic is nice, and it's fast...but as zeN said, the current state of fiber optic lines aren't friendly enough to really push this product along. The technology that is involved is awesome, but it's still considered next-gen and out of reach because of the market. It's always because of the market. I love the potential though, especially streaming BluRay content.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 16 2010 6:36 PM

@Kyouya: Firewire came out before USB, if I remember correctly. USB won out because it was simpler and cheaper (albeit lower-performing).

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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3vi1 replied on Fri, Apr 16 2010 6:44 PM

I don't know if I agree guys: I've spent quite a few years working with fiber, and I've not seen anyone ever "accidentally" break it. It's not _that_ fragile (I've seen it run around some pretty sharp corners in network racks).

I'd definitely be willing to buy it if the transfer speeds are as promised.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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Aye, the only instances I've ever seen fiber break is when someones been trying to do so. Granted, ye wanna be careful with it, but these days its like most other cable.

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I am in total agreement with 3vi1 !

Since, we are the ones who were saying the exact same thing you are saying now, Yet back in the eighties! We were saying, OH that is so Next Gen, what is it really going to do for us now? If you remember back in the 90's, when everyone was investing in the dot-com companies. Most of those investments got turned around and put into developing the Global Internet as we know it today! Using what?...Fiber-Optics.

I am just surprised that development has taken this long. It would have been easier to replace almost all our cables a long time ago with Fiber-Optics. I guess they just saw it as not being really profitable in the production to return ratios. Instead it turned into a very niche market, even thought the costs have come down in price. I have always used FO in any model I build for the lighting, it is just way more fun. If they would have stayed on course, they could have been improving on the transfer speed to where we would have literally unlimited speeds right now. Instead it has just sat on the back burner, knowing that it would someday be the final answer to all data cabling needs. If set up properly they will last a long time and be good for any household. They are pretty durable, so just because your cat ate through the fiber line doesn't mean that they cant withstand a little throwing around.

Its so much fun getting on an IPhone and complaining about technology when you don't remember, or weren't even around when it was being developed and evolving into what we have today. I guess it is easier to just think that all this technology came from the Roswell crash back on June 14,1947! :P

I know, I was there as well :)

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