SAN FRANCISCO Intel Corp. wants to consolidate all the wired connections on your PC to a single 10 Gbit/second optical cable it calls Light Peak. It plans to roll out a controller to drive the interface sometime next year working with Sony Corp.'s Vaio group and other unnamed partners.
Light Peak is essentially an effort to merge the future of both USB and display interfaces such as DisplayPort. It parallels the efforts years ago to consolidate serial and parallel ports on USB.
Intel demonstrated an early version of the link carrying uncompressed high definition video over 40 meters from a notebook computer to a monitor at the Intel Developer Forum here. The technology could run at distances up to 100 meters.
"The reason we showed it in a notebook is the number of connectors you need limits the size of the system," said Dadi Perlmutter, general manager of the Intel Architecture Group in a keynote address.
Light Peak is well ahead of demand. The 5 GHz version 3.0 of USB is just emerging in products next year, and DisplayPort an interface that is replacing analog VGA and DVI, is now becoming mainstream on PC products.
But Perlmutter hopes the new optical link will take over when those copper interconnects run out of steam.
"It will take years for this technology to be mainstream," Perlmutter said. "We will have the silicon that supports it next year, and there will be some systems next year or so but it will take time for an ecosystem to build up," he added.
He declined to name any other partners beyond Sony working with Intel on the effort. However, he said the technology will eventually go through an industry standards process.
"Whatever happened to Pat Gelsinger's calls for a 'Radio Free Intel'?" said Richard Doherty, principal of consulting form Envisioneering (Seaford, N.Y.). "I wonder if this initiative is coming in part because Intel lacks intellectual property in 60-GHz technology, he said.
A handful of companies including startup SiBeam are developing 60-GHz chips to handle uncompressed high def video wirelessly. Intel's efforts to enable a wireless version of USB faced setbacks when several startup chip makers went out of business due to the recession and the difficulty getting the initiative off the ground