Intel knifes USB 3.0 baby? Super-speed to Light Peak...

At the Intel Developer Forum, the eponymous chipmaker is showing off Light Peak, its ultra-fast, multi-purpose, optical interconnect. Interestingly, Intel appears to be trying to kill USB 3.0, without actually saying so. There's still no USB 3.0 chipset support from Intel, and not even any published plans. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers add 2+2 and read the writing on the wall.

By Richi Jennings. April 15, 2010.


Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention hungry weasels...     G'day, David Frith, the downunder rumormonger:

Intel may be losing interest in USB 3.0 ... in favour of new technology it is developing called Light Peak. [It] would connect ... with fibre-optic cables, initially capable of sending data at ... twice as fast as USB 3.0. ... Intel boffins say they're working on a more advanced [20x] version.


Since fibre-optic cables and their connectors can be made extremely thin, laptops and other electronic gear could also be made skinnier ... unhindered by electromagnetic interference. ... USB cables are limited to lengths of a few metres, Light Peak cables can stretch more than 100m. ... Could do the job of several [ports] ... including [video]. ... Apple ... is believed to be pushing for the adoption of the technology.

Owen Fletcher seems to confirm the rumor:

Intel ... hopes it will be broadly used ... said Kevin Kahn, an Intel senior fellow ... at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. ... "In some sense we'd... like to build the last cable you'll ever need." ... Light Peak can run multiple protocols at the same time ... so all the data meant for ... separate cables could run through one Light Peak cable.


Intel ... did not immediately reply to a question about whether it will launch chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0. ... [But] when asked if Intel would build Light Peak support into its chipsets, Kahn said the company could do so if Light Peak spreads quickly. ... Intel argues that existing electrical cable technology is approaching limits that optical technology can surpass.

Steve Dougherty rams the point home:

The technology is said to become available by late this year to component makers, and shipping early next ... taking over the reins before USB 3.0 even has a chance to fully embed itself in the mainstream market.

The anonymous Electronista gnomes blog thuswise:

Some rumors have maintained that it's actually an Apple-inspired standard ... making possible next-generation iPhones, iPods and other devices that could sync in a fraction of the time it takes on 480Mbps USB 2.0.

Anton Shilov talks speeds and feeds:

Light Peak provides initial data rates of 10Gb/s and potential scalability to 100Gb/s and beyond, something copper ... will not be able to achieve. [It] also supports ... bandwidth aggregation of the various interconnects used in systems today onto a single high speed, thin, flexible, and long cable and small connector.


Some believe that Intel and some other companies are reluctant to implement USB 3.0 because it would be quickly replaced by Light Peak. ... One of the company’s goals is to crossover from electrical to optical ... getting away from the electro-magnetic interference (EMI) and thickening and shortening of cables ... Intel said.

But Robin Harris hearkens back to yesterday's news:

External storage bandwidth hasn’t kept up with disk capacities or SSD speeds. USB 3.0 ... promises to fix that and is already announced on several Wintel notebooks. ... I hope Apple isn’t relying on Light Peak to solve their I/O problem. USB 3.0 is here today.


Light Peak has important long-term advantages ... but it isn’t ready now. And customers need higher bandwidth I/O today.

And Sebastian Pop spots a fly in the optical ointment:

The only limitation that seems to make a dent in the perfect picture ... is the inability ... to power connected devices, as opposed to USB 3.0 cables that achieve this feat with no problems.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

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