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Intel unfurls copper-killing optical cables

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IDF Intel plans to replace your LAN, storage, and HD video cables with a single high-speed optical cable based on a technology it calls Light Peak.

Announced Wednesday morning at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the 10Gbps interconnect uses a optical cable that can span up to 100 meters, according to Dadi Perlmutter, EVP of the company's new Intel Architecture Group.

An Intel release added that Light Peak's throughput has "the potential ability" to increase to 100Gbps in the next ten years, but that even at 10Gbps, "a user could transfer a full-length Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds."

In addition to simplifying cabling, the replacement of multiple ports with a single optical port - presumably based on Intel's recent advances in silicon photonics - would enable more-compact laptop and handheld form factors.

Permutter noted that Sony has expressed interest in Light Peak and quoted that company's VAIO director, Ryosuke Akahane, as being "extremely excited about the potential of the Light Peak technology."

Light Peak components will be available next year, but Permutter admitted that the transition from multiple copper cables to a single optical one will be lengthy. As he put it, "There's going to be a long-term opticalization." ®

Update

The Reg spoke Wednesday afternoon with Intel Senior Fellow and director of the company's Communications Technology Lab Kevin Kahn, who told us that our presumption that Light Peak was based on Intel's work with silicon photonics was incorrect, and that Light Peak uses conventional Vixel technology. Silicon photonics, Kahn told us, will most likely approach cost effectiveness when optical-interconnect speeds reach the 25Gbps threshold.

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