Intel plans one cable to rule them all

Intel's Light Peak optical cable will handle display, LAN and storage.

Intel's Light Peak

Intel is working on creating a single optical cable to handle storage, display and networking.

The new project is codenamed Light Peak. with general manager of Intel architecture Dadi Perlmutter describing it as "optical wires that really change the way we connect."

The thin optical cable will offer speeds of 10Gpbs over lengths as long as 100 metres, much faster than even USB 3.0, which promises 3Gbps.

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It will be able to carry multiple protocols, including networking, storage and display removing the need to have separate cables and connectors on devices for each.

Light Peak cable from IDF

In a mobile-themed keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Perlmutter noted cables aren't normally seen as mobility enhancing technology. But he said the "number of cables needed for a notebook is one of the limitors of going mobile," as carrying around a collection of wires is a bit of a pain and the variety of connectors makes design more difficult.

He held up a handful of a half dozen cables in one hand, with the other clutching a single cable, saying it will be easier to go mobile when there's just one cable type for connecting to storage, LAN or displays. That said, you'd still need one cable for each connection.

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The components will arrive next year, but Perlmutter noted it was a long term project. "Legacy takes a long time to make a transition," he said, comparing it to the USB revolution. "USB has replaced a lot of connectors. Today a single USB connects you to a printer, to all sorts of devices."

He added: "This takes it one step further.".

Click here for more news from the Intel Developer Forum 2009.

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