Light Peak: Just One Connector

Intel_IDF2009_Light_Peak_Connector

The Intel Developer Forum (IDF) yield some interesting products and technologies. Light Peak being one of them. What is Light Peak? It’s an optical interconnect technology based on fiber optics that has huge bandwidth. Think 10Gbps. You thought USB 3.0 was fast (5Gbps). Yes, USB 3.0 will be coming soon, but Light Peak might be on its tail. Light Peak can maintain a throughput of 10Gbps within 100 meters (about 109 yards)–long enough for almost any application. I would think digital signage folks would be relieved to not have to deal with so many different connections. Some of the benefits of Light Peak touted by Intel:

  • Fewer, Smaller Connectors
  • Longer, Thinner Cables
  • Higher Bandwidth
  • Bi-directional Transfer
  • Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Hot Pluggable
  • Multiple I/O Protocols on Single Cable

Light Peak would replace USB, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, SATA, SAS, Ethernet, FireWire… pretty much all of the cornucopia of interconnect standards that we are using today. I hope Light Peak becomes a standard sooner than later because it would be a wonderful day when we no longer need to waste valuable time and resources deciding which connector(s) to include in a TV, monitor, notebook or smartphone. Here are the choices brands have to make right now just for external display interconnects: VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. That’s three too many. With a huge bandwidth of 10Gbps even Ultra Definition (3840×2048 or 3840×2160) at 60fps can be easily handled.

Intel demoed its Light Peak interconnect technology using a Hackintosh driving a large display and a SSD RAID on a single cable (video above). A 2GB file was being transferred while a HD-class video was running at the same time without a glitch.

According to Engadget, an extremely reliable source, said that back in 2007 Apple’s Steve Jobs brought the concept of Light Peak to Intel’s Paul Otellini and asked Intel to develop it. I’m guessing Apple got a bit tired having to design an aluminum unibody (and everything else) with a bunch of connector holes on the side. I can just imagine Steve Jobs throwing down the gauntlet: “Just. One. Connector.” That would be nice to see just a single connector on all of Apple’s products, especially the MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. Apple will still require something like an iStick for legacy connections though. The extremely reliable source mentioned an one-size-fits-all solution in the short term with the longer-term to have Light Peak replacing all interconnects. In the fall of 2010 Apple will be unveiling a new standard for its computer systems. A low-power version of Light Peak is expected to follow soon after allowing the optical interconnect technology to complete its world domination by capturing the mobile world.

Source:

  • “Exclusive: Apple dictated Light Peak creation to Intel, could begin migration from other standards as early as 2010” – Engadget
  • “Video: Intel’s Light Peak running an HD display while transferring files… on a hackintosh” – Engadget
  • “Intel unveils Light Peak 10Gbps optical interconnect for mobile devices” – Engadget

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