Intel: Killer cables may leapfrog USB 3.0
Seeing the Light Peak
Intel sees its high-speed, long-distance Light Peak optical cabling technology as the next interconnect step after USB 3.0.
"We view this as a logical future successor to USB 3.0," IDG News Service quoted Intel senior fellow Kevin Kahn as telling his audience at the Intel Developer Forum currently underway in Beijing. "In some sense we'd... like to build the last cable you'll ever need."
Light Peak has some significant advantages over USB 3.0. First - you'll pardon the pun - its peak speed is 10Gbps, a hair over twice as fast as that of USB 3.0 - and Intel has said in the past that Light Peak could scale up to 100Gbps in in the not-too-distant future.
Second, thin optical cables carrying Light Peak signals can be up to 100 meters long. And third, Light Peak can carry multiple protocols simultaneously - one of those could even be USB 3.0, which could coexist on a single Light Peak cable along with, for example, SATA, HDMI, DVI, and PCI-E.
As Dana Carvey's Church Lady might have said on Saturday Night Live: "How conveeenient!"
The idea that Light Peak might someday succeed USB 3.0 puts a lot of faith in that slower serial attachment's future. USB 3.0 was first announced at IDF in September 2007, but is only now finding its way into devices. When first announced, by the way, USB 3.0 had an optical cable supplementing its copper cables, but that disappeared from the spec in early 2008.
At IDF Beijing, according to IDG, Kahn's demo included a laptop with a USB port that had been modded to accept a Light Peak signal - but which could also accept a copper-based USB 3.0 cable. Kahn noted that although a USB 3.0 port would be good place for Light Peak to first connect, "you could take the size way, way down" for a Light Peak–specific port, good news for the such devices as handhelds and ultrathins. ®
"""IMO if your device can't manage a cubic centimeter of space for a robust connector, if that's too bulky for your tastes then you probably didn't care enough to take it along with you regardless of such a small difference in size."""
Actually... That's entirely wrong. A connector doesn't just take up space, it forces other components further apart, which tends to cause devices to become rather thick. This is why micro-usb (Which is on all of the current devices... which I guess you would never use. That leaves you stuck using... an iPhone I guess.) isn't narrower than mini-usb, just thinner.
An honestly, definitions of 'Robust' change depending on the application - certainly you don't mean that everyone should have a canon plug rated for use in explosive environments on their phones.
"""They're already small enough that one wrong bump can damage a device beyond reasonable repair."""
Not sure what you define as one wrong bump, but I'm going to go out on a (short, sturdy) limb here and say that you're full of shit on that one. I'm not too delicate with my devices, and I've owned quite a few with USB ports of all sizes, and I've yet to break any, even by regularly picking things up by the USB cable.
I don't see why people have to rally against anything new. Your worry about cost effectiveness is moot, because if it isn't, then manufacturers won't pick it up, and consumers won't spend extra for it, and it'll go the way of the glorious firewire port. That means that if/when we see it available, it will already be cost effective. And technically, if it's the only thing that offers 10gbit, then it'll be cost effective for some people. If you will /never/ need 10gbit, then go ahead and don't use it, simple as that.
I for one can't wait to see USB get relegated back to what it was designed for, and the only thing that it's good for even after all the hackery of later versions - low speed / low power peripherals. Assuming that Intel can work out a slightly less broken protocol for their new optical magic, it could be the first thing to legitimately replace firewire on grounds of actual usefulness.
If this thing is as good as it sounds, and can push HD Video, Network, etc all down one (potentially very long) fiber, then I want it yesterday, and I can't see how anyone else wouldn't. If it lacks the irritating master-slave setup that makes USB so useless, it could make for some very interesting networks, and solve a whole lot of irritating problems.
"In some sense we'd... like to build the last cable you'll ever need."
"640K is more memory than anyone will ever need."
"Since when are consumer aimed fibre optics brittle? I've got a bunch at home for digital optical feeds and they are far more flexible and maliable that any copper based cable I've used."
OK, I DARE you to bend one of those wires RIGHT BACK on itself!" YES I mean a complete U-turn! :D No not the large diameter ones, the typical usb ones that are less than 3mm thick...
the copper cables may stretch and strain, but they will still work.. my one has been thrown about, shut in doors(some permanently, due to a landlord not wanting holes drilled in the door surround!!), etc, etc, but still works..
Of course there will always be copper for the power supply, there already is in USB - If that was not needed, there would be only two wires, like audio..
Fibre optics are the best to offer consumers. They're so brittle that they won't last five minutes in the average family home, and a lucrative after-sales industry of replacement cables will spring up.
PC World must be salivating already. And they can add an 'eye test' to the sockets on your PC when you book it in for an 'expert' health check, and advise a set of 'special fibre optic glasses' to fit over the end of the socket for old PCs whose fibre optic vision is probably starting to get blurry. All for just £39.99.
"you could get away with one tiny port allowing even smaller and thinner kit, and on computers instead of having a plethora of different ports"
Wasn't this supposed to be the raison d'etre of USB ? To get rid of PS/2, serial, parallel, external SCSI, etc ?
I'll grant you that it's partially achieved this, but not totally.