[justify]Light Peak is the code name for a new high-speed optical cable technology designed to connect electronic devices to each other. Light Peak delivers high bandwidth starting at 10Gb/s with the potential ability to scale to 100Gb/s over the next decade. At 10Gb/s, we can transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. Light peak allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible. 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.
Light Peak was developed as a way to reduce the proliferation of ports on modern computers. Bus systems like USB were intended to do the same, and successfully replaced a number of older technologies like RS232 and Centronics printer ports. However, increasing bandwidth demands have led to the introduction of a new series of high-performance systems like eSATA and Display Port that USB and similar systems can not address. Light Peak provides enough bandwidth to allow all of these systems to be driven over a single type of interface, and in many cases on a single cable using a daisy chain.The Light Peak cable contains a pair of optical fibers that are used for upstream and downstream traffic. This means that Light Peak offers a maximum of 10 Gbit/s in both directions at the same time. The prototype system featured two motherboard controllers that both supported two bidirectional buses at the same time, wired to four external connectors. Each pair of optical cables from the controllers is led to a connector, where power is added through separate wiring. The physical connector used on the prototype system looks similar to the existing USB or FireWire connectors.
Intel has stated that Light Peak is protocol independent, allowing it to support existing standards with a change of the physical medium. Few details on issues like protocol or timing contention have been released. Intel has stated that Light Peak has the performance to drive everything from storage to displays to networking, and it can maintain those speeds over 100 meter runs. As advantages over existing systems, they also note that a system using Light Peak will have fewer and smaller connectors, longer and thinner cables, higher bandwidth, and can run multiple protocols on a single cable.
One key piece of the device chain that has not been shown is a controller for the device-end of the bus. In the USB case, a single controller can contain the power circuitry, USB device logic, along with off-the-shelf, custom or programmable logic for running devices. A simple USB device can be built by adding a connector, one driver chip, and the hardware the system is meant to drive; a mouse is a good example of a system that is typically implemented using a single off-the-shelf chip. A similar single-chip solution will be in demand for Light Peak as well, but to date Intel has simply suggested it is working with industry partners to provide one. According to Intel, the companies that will produce Light Peak technology include Foxconn, Foxlink, IPtronics, SAE Magnetics FOCI Fiber Optics Communications Inc, Avago, Corning Elaser, Oclaro, Ensphere Solutions, and Enablence.
In the next 5-10 years, people will have many reasons for higher bandwidth. Lots of attractive applications that significantly improve user experiences are depending on huge volume of data capturing, transfer, storage, and reconstruction. People will have more and more electrical devices, such as High Definition (HD) video camcorders, HD monitors, Mobile Internet Device (MID) s, laptops and other handheld devices, and they want to be able to share data between these devices, smoothly, quickly and easily. All these user requirements call for higher bandwidth. But existing electrical cable technology[/justify]