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Intel to spotlight optical interconnect tomorrow

Up to a point, Lord Copper

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Intel is going to announce "a new technology" tomorrow, and the online buzz reckons it will release 'Light Peak', its alternative to USB.

Certainly CNet thinks so, citing the usual "unnamed source familiar with the event", who says Intel will indeed put the spotlight on Light Peak tomorrow.

And the interweb has been buzzing with speculation that Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro revamp, also expected tomorrow, will feature the technology.

Don't forget that Apple was once said to have co-developed Light Peak in its earliest form.

Light Peak was first demo'd as an optical interconnect using a USB-style connector in 2009. Around the same time, USB 3.0 was being mooted as a copper-cable interconnect with an upgrade path to optical.

USB 3.0 latter dropped the optical component, and likewise Light Peak - despite the codename - now seems to require wires.

Light Peak sounds superior to SuperSpeed, but you should take Intel's claims cautiously. Talk of 20Gb/s data transfer rates - 10Gb/s simultaneous upstream and downstream links - may apply to the optical version of the technology, as surely does Intel's claim that Light Peak has the potential to hit 100Gb/s.

USB 3.0 peaks at 5Gb/s.

That's rather faster than USB 2.0, but it hasn't exactly set the world alight. Yes, you can buy USB 3.0 hard drives, and even a fair few PCs that have USB 3.0 ports, but it's by no means mainstream.

And you have to wonder what the usually pro-standards Intel is doing offering an alternative that could halt the rise of SuperSpeed - or will flop because it's not a standard, or two few peripherals and PC makers are supporting it.

Better surely to stick to Light Peak as an optical interconnect which can by duly applied to the USB standard, perhaps as USB 4.0. ®

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