Intel's Light Peak To Challenge USB 3.0 Next Year

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.