One technological innovation at the IDF this year hasn’t received a lot of press having been overshadowed by so many other long awaited announcements and demos; an oversight that ExtremeTech has remedied with their article on Light Peak.  A new data transfer standard using fibre optics that currently allows transfers of up to 10Gb/s and should scale up to 100Gb/s as it matures.  USB 3.0 is certainly going to be available sooner than LightPeak but before you dismiss it you should recall one very important detail; USB can only handle one protocol at a time, a constraint that fibre optic cabling does not share.

“Intel has unveiled Light Peak, an optical cabling technology that can transfer data between your computer and peripherals at 10 Gb/s, fast enough to transfer a full- length Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds. Fiber-optic cabling is not new, but Intel executives believe Light Peak will make it cheap enough and small enough to be incorporated into consumer electronics at a price point that consumers and manufacturers will accept.

Fiber optics typically use a cigarette-box-sized optical transceiver, which contains tiny lasers and photo cells, to facilitate the connections. Intel miniaturized the box down to the dimensions of a wafer thin dime. Optical cables are already pretty tiny; each one is just 125 microns wide or about the width of a single human hair. The transceiver can deliver two channels of information over the fiber-optic cable— necessary since PCs need at least two ports. “

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