Despite the fact that optical cables transmit data far faster than copper wire, wire is still the primary medium for communication on computer chips, and between computers and devices through USB cables. But Intel hopes to change all that soon with their new Light Peak connection system.
Debuted yesterday at the Intel Developer Forum, Light Peak uses four inexpensive fiber-optic wires, each of which can carry ten gigabits* of data per second. The system included the development of both the wires, which needed to drop in price to make the system affordable, and the chips, which encode and decode information in light form on both ends.
Light, by virtue of having no mass, can travel far faster than matter like electrons, making optical communication much quicker than the electrical communication that relies on the transfer of electrons.
Intel wants to start shipping the devices by sometime next year, but it must first overcome the hurdle of standardization. Without the companies that design the software, computers, and peripherals on board, Intel will be left with a very fast wire it can't actually connect to anything. In many ways, standardization is even more difficult than the development of the technology itself. So even while this technology may mark the beginning of the final move away from copper wires, we're probably going to be stuck with USB cords for some time to come.
*The original post incorrectly said gigabytes, not gigabits.
[via Technology Review]
Intel quotes the data rate at "10Gb/s" - that's ten gigabits per second (not gigabytes).
We'll be lucky if it comes anywhere close to that rate
Awesome! By the way, i_rakov, telecomm networks are already getting over a terabit per second on a single pair of fibers by sending 160 different frequencies of 10 Gbit/s simultaneously. 10 Gbit fiber optic technology is pretty common. Miniaturizing it and making it cheap enough to go in your home computer is new. I wonder how quickly Microsoft can gobble up that bandwidth with their next-generation operating system? jk
why not just make a usb out of a light peak cable?
"Light, by virtue of having no mass, can travel far faster than matter like electrons, making optical communication much quicker than the electrical communication that relies on the transfer of electrons."
I call total BS
In an unshielded copper conductor it is about 96% that of the speed of light.
The speed of light is really the speed of light in a vacuum, light actually travels at different speeds when going through different things. In fiber optic cables light travels about a third slower than in a vacuum so it is actual slower than electricity in a copper wire.
Even your assertion that a photon is massless can be challenged it is now beveled that a photon has a mass as high as 1.1×10−52 kg.
Despite the fact that you are full of crap and none of your reasons are in the least bit correct it is true that fiber optics can send more data than electricity in copper.
Electricity flowing creates a magnetic field around it these fields affect the fields around them causing interference fiber optics are virtual immune to this.
The magnetic fields lag behind the flow of electricity and will, for a short time create electricity when you don't want it this is a form of capacitance but doesn't affect light so it can travel farther with out the signal getting distorted.
Because of this you can make subtle changes in the light that can be lost or distorted with electricity.
On top of that light can be polarized and changes to the polarization can contain data. You can also send multiple different 'colors' of light down the same cable at the same time.
Oh and btw USB 3 is 5 Gbps and can power the devices it connects to. I'll bet between its better price backwards and forwards compatibility; and more universal adoption it will cream Intel's clock. If you still desire to be the odd boll you can always go to FireWire S3200 with 3.2 Gbps.
I had corroborating links to all the points I made but popsci kept telling me that I was spamming.
I think that the most likely place we will see this used will be built into cards and chips etc that come from Intel. If they can prove the worth of this transfer method on die then they will have less trouble convincing the standardization committees to adopt this or something like it as a USB Killer.
As pointed out above USB3 while slower offers more computability and the ability to power devices.
Maybe Intel should look at a multichannel version of this that can deliver even better data transfer rates.
Can we have augmented reality projection glasses yet?
animemaster, signal transmission speed in a copper wire is about half of speed of light. This is a well-known fact!
Please make a search in the internet and find out for yourself or do experiments!
I personally think this idea by Intel is good but why to use 4 cables? Only 1 or 2 should be enough. 4 would be extra expensive. (I agree w/ animemaster on that.)
Since nothing can exceed the speed of light I guess we have tennatively reached our limit to the speed of data transfer. Only by using parallel paths will we get more data transfered at the same time. How much data can the current processors manipulate that will require this much I/O speed?? This may be the cart B4 the horse. Until we can perfect a quantum computer or learn to manipulate subspace. "Beam me up Scottie".
animemaster, your comments about the rest mass of a photon are disingenuous at best.
its not "now beveled that a photon has a mass as high as 1.1×10−52 kg"
but rather that the upper limit *IF* the photon has mass has been set at 1.1x10^-52 kg
the standard model and all experimental data to date still says that the photon has zero rest mass.
It better be backwards compatible with USB...
Finally I'll be able to watch TV using my laptop in HD quality. When should we expect Intel to make Light Peak a reality? Truly, don't see any reason to pay for cable box when there are so many interesting online TV broadcast 24/7 free of charge on internet. Quality has been bad, but Light Peak should help. 10gbps. Wow!