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Intel shows off first Light Peak laptop

Intel Light Peak

By Barry Collins in Brussels

Posted on 4 May 2010 at 13:31

Intel has provided the first hands-on demonstration of a laptop running its Light Peak technology, at the company's inaugural European research showcase here in Brussels.

Light Peak is an optical interconnect that can transfer data at 10Gbits/sec in both directions. Intel hopes Light Peak will one day replace the host of other PC interconnects, including USB, DisplayPort and HDMI.

Intel has fitted Light Peak into a regular USB cable, with optical fibres running alongside the electrical cabling. Intel provided a visual demonstration of how data is passed through the cable, by shining a torch into one end of the cable, with two little dots of light visible to the naked eye at the other end.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands. The technology hasn't yet been integrated into the screen, which explains the ugly black box sitting between the two devices.

Intel's chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. "Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions," he said. "We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You'll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There's almost no limit to the bandwidth - fibres can carry trillions of bits per second".

Rattner said the technology will find its way into everything from home PCs to server farms. "The potential of that headroom will lead people to rethink the design of their systems," he said. "We've very, very excited about the potential of Light Peak."

An Intel spokesman said Light Peak hardware should start to become available to manufacturers by the end of this year.

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User comments

Illuminating tech journo's

"Intel provided a visual demonstration of how data is passed through the cable, by shining a torch into one end of the cable, with two little dots of light visible to the naked eye at the other end."

Haha! They had to demonstrate how fibre optics work!? Who were they demonstrating this to, infants?

By Glovepuppet on 4 May 2010

Now, it really would be nice to have one cable for video and peripherals - internal or external. one cable carrying power and data.

Probably too much to ask I know.

By bubbles16 on 4 May 2010

Still gonna need a cable tidy though. Shame Nikola Tesla wasn't born 50 years later. Maybe then we wouldn't have the rats nests of cables needed by the most rudimentary of network set ups. Everything would be wireless!

By Disco181 on 4 May 2010

Oops, multi-tasking there. That should have said ' computer set ups'!

By Disco181 on 4 May 2010

One cable to rule them...

Look what that brought to Middle Earth :-D

That said, a single interface, single cable type and daisy-chaining them would be nice. I have drawers and cupboards full of different, and incompatible, cables...

By big_D on 5 May 2010

Optical light?

That would be as opposed to the old-fashioned mechanical light then?

By JohnAHind on 5 May 2010

The VAX behind the curtains

@Glovepuppet: there's a long history of over-excitable demos by some surprisingly big names, one of which was infamously revealed to depend on a VAX minicomputer hidden behind a curtain. Shining light into a USB lead looks to me like a demonstration by an experienced demonstrator, not a matter of an audience of infants.

By Steve_Cassidy on 5 May 2010

"..You'll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There's almost no limit to the bandwidth - fibres can carry trillions of bits per second"

Which conveniently overlooks the fact that the rest of the system doesn't... so there is a limit to the practical bandwidth.

It isn't going to replace DVI/HDMI/Displayport anytime soon, either.

Agreed Steve - experienced illusionist, knows the hacks are too busy scribbling to pickup on the real-world shortcomings

By alan_lj on 6 May 2010

how do you put the data into the torch before you shine it down the cable

By sammyd on 14 Dec 2010

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