Light Peak fiber optic connector to replace Firewire, USB, monitor cables

Light Peak fiber optic connector to replace Firewire, USB, monitor cables

Summary: A new interconnect technology called Light Peak is being developed by Apple as a potential replacement for FireWire, USB and traditional monitor cables. Engadget reports that Apple brought the technology to Intel and asked them to create it.

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A new interconnect technology called Light Peak is being developed by Apple as a potential replacement for FireWire, USB and traditional monitor cables. Engadget reports that Apple brought the technology to Intel and asked them to create it.

According to documents we've seen and conversations we've had, Apple had reached out to Intel as early as 2007 with plans for an interoperable standard which could handle massive amounts of data and "replace the multitudinous connector types with a single connector (FireWire, USB, Display interface)."

Documents reviewed by Engadget indicate that Light Peak would enable users to connect a variety of devices into a single Light Peak port. Longer-term, Light Peak has the potential to replace almost all the ports that are on your current computer, including networking, display driving, and general connectivity.

Light Peak is sexy because it's based on fiber optic technology that is capable of transferring data at 10Gbps -- dramatically faster than the 400-800Mbps achieved by FireWire and 480Mbps USB. At 10Gbps you could transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. According to Intel, Light Peak can scale to 100Gbps over the next decade and has a number of other benefits.

Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible. Light Peak also has the ability to run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable, enabling the technology to connect devices such as peripherals, workstations, displays, disk drives, docking stations, and more.

Light Peak is even faster than the recently ratified SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) which can transfer data at 4.8Gbps.

Engadget thinks that Light Peak could land in Apple systems as soon as Fall 2010 in a line of Macs destined for back-to-school shoppers. Following the initial launch, a low-power version of Light Peak is planned for 2011, which could find its way into tablets and mobile phones.

Update: Check out this video of the Light Peak demonstration from the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) -- running on a hackintosh, no less.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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6 comments
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  • 100 Gbps is a pretty conservative estimate...

    100 Gbps is a pretty conservative estimate because the theoretical
    maximum throughput on fiber optic is however fast the hardware is on
    either end of the cable.
    olePigeon
  • Developed by Intel, not Apple

    While it appears that Apple may have been important in inspiring this particular standard, it is simply incorrect to say that they are developing it. At the most, they might have brought some of the design criteria and have plans for introducing it in their products, but the intellectual property clearly belongs to Intel. Other than the rumors from an "extremely reliable source" reported on by Engadget, I can't find a single other connection between Apple and Light Peak. Not any scientific papers, patents or other material. All of the official documentation is published by Intel, which you only mention in passing.
    Rob Oakes
  • WHY? With wireless technologies hitting 300mbs, seems special purpose

    I would rather they work on wireless everything. Then i can run wireless to any device i have rather than having to have a cable.

    The other thing i saw missing from this story was power. Right now usb powers devices, i assume that this product will not have that feature since fiber is based on light. Thoughts?
    Been_Done_Before
    • Well...

      Well, 300 Mbps is only 1/30th the speed of 10 Gbps. It is not nearly fast
      enough to run at the speeds required for just your display.

      Light Peak can offer power over separate copper wiring that doesn't
      interfere with transmission. That means Light Peak has the potential to
      offer whatever amount of power is required by a device.
      olePigeon
  • Apple admits incompetence, begs Intel for technology

    That's the more accurate headline you forgot to write.

    "Engadget reports that Apple brought the technology to Intel and asked them to create it"

    No Engadget reported no such thing. Engadget reported that Apple "brought the concept to Intel and asked them to create it" and "had specific demands for the standard"

    Clearly Intel/USB handing them their ass on Firewire made them think twice about trying that again.

    Conceptually there is nothing new or innovative here. I'm sure there are thousands of average consumers like me who are now saying "duh". We've been waiting for someone to do this since dvi. We've had port replication/expansion and power since usb, bi direction since hdmi, and high bandwidth since fiber. I bet everyone who's buried a 25 foot or longer HDMI cable in a wall has said god i cant wait til they standardize on fiber optic cable for this crap.

    The difference is that we, like Apple, have no clue how to do it. This is driven buy web/phone/dvr/media center type convergence and happends with or without Apple. I'm sure Intel recognizes the single port benefit for phones but couldn't care less if pc/netbook have a single port or not. Personally I will want a usb port as well (except phone) for sometime to come.

    YEAH INTEL!!!
    Johnny Vegas
    • another excuse to hate Apple?

      Your statement, "I'm sure Intel recognizes the single
      port benefit for phones but couldn't care less if
      pc/netbook have a single port or not. " fully
      explains why APPLE had to introduce the concept to
      Intel.

      The innovation (an improvement to existing tech) here
      is the idea of making your PC connect to EVERYTHING
      via optical. Yes, all of us have been waiting for
      networking companies to standardize on optics for
      years, but I haven't heard anybody mention the idea
      of using optics for ALL pc connections!

      And you are right, Apple more than likely didn't have
      the engineers that could integrate the technology
      into the chips that run the PC, which Intel does!
      Duh, Apple makes computers using Intel's chips!
      Newsflash!

      Sounds to me like Apple just had the nice idea of
      using a single cable for it all, and went to intel
      with the idea, which Intel snapped up like a trout on
      bait.
      rwahrens1952