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Intel reveals 50Gbits/sec interface... but it's not Light Peak

  • Intel has combined the laser and the encoder onto a single chip
  • Intel has combined the laser and the encoder onto a single chip

By Darien Graham-Smith

Posted on 27 Jul 2010 at 18:30

Intel has unveiled yet another high-speed optical interface – before its long-awaited Light Peak connector has even reached the market.

The Light Peak optical interconnect can transfer data at 10Gbits/sec in both directions, and is touted as an all-in-one replacement for USB, DisplayPort and HDMI.

Intel has demonstrated working Light Peak models twice this year, as the technology moves ever closer to launch. But today it pulled a surprise by announcing an even faster potential successor to Light Peak.

This is not a technology that’s ten years away, but maybe three to five years

The new interface uses an indium phosphide hybrid laser inside the controller chip – a process which Intel calls silicon photonics – rather than using a separate optical module, as with Light Peak.

And by encoding data at 12.5Gbits/sec across four laser beams of differing wavelengths, the connector yields a total bandwidth of 50Gbits/sec, five times that offered by Light Peak.

“50Gbits/sec is just the beginning,” declared Intel fellow Mario Paniccia, introducing the technology. By increasing the data rate and using more concurrent beams, Intel plans to scale the interface up to 1Tbit/sec.

Paniccia made clear that the new system wouldn’t replace Light Peak in the short term. “This is a research announcement,” he emphasised. “This is not a technology that’s ten years away, but maybe three to five years. Light Peak, as we’ve stated, will launch next year.”

The new interface should also be cheaper to produce than Light Peak thanks to its simple integrated design. “We have a passive connector without any fancy stages, so we believe we’ve discovered a low-cost, high-volume assembly,” Paniccia announced.

“And with low-cost optics, in the future everything can be connected by fibre. We can revolutionise the way data moves about.”

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User comments

Light Peak dead?

This super-duper new system will launch two to four years after Light Peak? It'll be faster? It'll be cheaper? Sorry Light Peak old chum, but there's better than you just around the corner.

By Mark_Thompson on 27 Jul 2010

mmmm?

Does pc memory or hard disks transfer data at any near this speed? I don't think it does? As a consumer product (USB replacement) will we really need this if the data sources cannot keep up? Maybe I am missing something?

By mumblestiltskin on 28 Jul 2010

RE: mmmm?

The slowest standard DDR3 (800mhz) transfers data at up to 6400MB/s. (Mega -Bytes- per second)

This is pretty much exactly 50Gb/s. (Giga -Bits- per second)

Faster DDR3 is used in most cases. And in 3-5 years time, will be significantly faster again.

There is rapid growth of digital media, including HD and 3D (And technoologies such Super-Hi Vision coming along). Then there is the prevalence of SAN-storage, etc, for database servers, etc.

So, quite simply put, yes I can definately see an opportunity to utilise 50Gb/s connectivity.

By matbailie on 28 Jul 2010

RE: mmmm?

The slowest standard DDR3 (800mhz) transfers data at up to 6400MB/s. (Mega -Bytes- per second)

This is pretty much exactly 50Gb/s. (Giga -Bits- per second)

Faster DDR3 is used in most cases. And in 3-5 years time, will be significantly faster again.

There is rapid growth of digital media, including HD and 3D (And technoologies such Super-Hi Vision coming along). Then there is the prevalence of SAN-storage, etc, for database servers, etc.

So, quite simply put, yes I can definately see an opportunity to utilise 50Gb/s connectivity.

By matbailie on 28 Jul 2010

RE: RE: mmmm?

Thanks for that (I was missing something), I had done a quick google and come up blank. I did not realise DDR memory was that fast!

By mumblestiltskin on 29 Jul 2010

mumblestiltskin

HDDs and slower flash drives are the only thing really holding us back. If you used RAM instead of a HDD your PC would suddenly feel lighting quick even if its 10 years old (not an exaggeration). SSDs will help put USB3/Lightpeak to good use but they still have a few teething problems of their own - cost, capacity, life, trim.

By urmaster on 29 Jul 2010

RE: mmmm?

Also don't forget that even if the individual items you plug in don't consume 50Gb/s, the intention here will be to use one interface for everything.

This could include external HDDs, printers, networking, video - all down one pipe.

By SirRoderickSpode on 30 Jul 2010

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