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Light Peak to be in mass production by early 2010?

updated 08:35 am EDT, Thu October 8, 2009

Intel Light Peak cabling may come early

Intel's fiber optic Light Peak interconnect standard could be ready sooner than commonly expected, based on plans from one of the company's key suppliers. Foci Fiber Optic Communication said to CNET on Thursday that it will start mass producing both the internal cables as well as Light Peak-based, USB-like cables at the start of 2010. Production on such a level is frequently, though not always, an indicator that companion hardware will arrive in a similar timeframe.

A release would depend on Intel also having a chipset that recognizes Light Peak, though Intel has promised that one should exist sometime next year.

One apparent leak had claimed that Apple would be one of the earliest to use Light Peak and might have Macs available in the fall that use it to merge multiple connections into one port or standard. It was suggested that Apple was directly responsible for proposing the standard and gained support when Intel demonstrated Light Peak using a "Hackintosh" setup, but the Mac designer is now believed to be just one of several involved in the format.

Foci in its discussion did provide insight as to the design of early cables. As glass fiber optic cables are normally brittle, companies were originally expected to use plastic fiber. However, its performance was poor enough for Foci that it instead used a particularly flexible variety of glass fiber treated for extra resistance. The result has the speed needed to sustain Light Peak's 10Gbps but can be coiled as tightly as an inch in diameter.

Foci's external Light Peak cables, using USB connectors on either end

By Electronista Staff
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  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004


    Ugh USB

    Sure, USB is everywhere, but its connectors are crappy and relatively unreliable. It is way too easy to have a USB connector cocked sideways, which would ruin reliability of the optical connection.

    Looking at the Light Peak prototype pictures, I was wondering if external cables might encapsulate the optical transponders within the cable ends, rather than just being a pure optical connection. Maybe these cables are just that, using USB to connect to the transponders, but optical fibers to send the data. To me, that would just add confusion to the marketplace and limit the usefulness of Light Peak for the heavy lifting it was touted for (e.g. display connections).

    Perhaps this is just a way to drive volume up, and to retroactively make the new technology available to legacy hardware. Doesn't seem bright, as the cable would be limited to the native USB port speed and contention, rather than the 10 Gbps that Light Peak should hit. It could give the nascent technology a poor reputation.

    -- Len

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