A Successor To USB 3.0 Is On It’s Way

UPCOMING TECHNOLOGY – Intel’s Light Peak Technology could be the next generation of the Input/Output technology. The year 2010 has brought along great new technologies with it including 3D television, Wireles HD and USB 3.0. Already a “potential” successor to USB 3.0 is expected to hit the markets by 2011. Intel’s Light Peak technology will link devices using optical cables with longer, thinner and more flexible than what the current technology offers.

Light Peak also has the ability to run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable, enabling the technology to connect devices such as peripherals, displays, disk drives, docking stations, and more delivering high bandwidth starting at 10Gb/s with the potential ability to scale to 100Gb/s over the next decade.

Illustration of Light Peak module close-up with laser light (On and Off state)

How does this technology work?

Light Peak consists of a controller chip and an optical module that would be included in platforms supporting this technology. The optical module performs the conversion from electricity to light and vice versa, using miniature lasers and photo detectors. Intel is planning to supply the controller chip, and is working with other component manufacturers to deliver all the Light Peak components. It is expected that the components will be ready to ship in 2010. Over time, the optical components, designed to be small, easy to manufacture and affordable, are expected to enjoy the economies of scale that other components have in the computing and consumer electronics industries.

The new technology could compete with connector technologies like USB and Firewire, which are used to connect PCs to storage and audio devices. However, Light Peak is not intended to replace current technologies, an Intel spokesperson said. It is intended to be a complementary technology.