SAN FRANCISCO--Intel Corp. said all the components needed for Light Peak will be available before the end of the year, enabling systems to ship using the 10 Gbit/second optical interconnect in 2011. That's as much as a year before Intel is expected to support USB 3.0 in its processor chip sets, enabling a mainstream market for that interconnect.
An earlier report incorrectly said the components would not come until 2011 and systems would follow in 2012.
The quick time to market is breathtaking given Intel first announced Light Peak at its Intel Developer Forum a year ago. At that time, senior executives said it could take years for the technology to be ready for mainstream uses.
What a difference a year makes. At IDF this week, Intel showed a Compal notebook linked to an Avid audio processor and Western Digital storage system using Light Peak to handle professional media editing (see video here). An Intel spokesman said the systems all used an Intel controller.
"We are going after consumer and mobile platforms so we don't expect to have a large bump in power consumption or cost" over traditional copper interfaces, said Robert Siegel, who manages Intel's Light Peak ecosystem efforts.
Siegel would not give power consumption or cost figures for the Light Peak parts. He also declined to name the third parties who will supply the optical modules, connectors and cables needed for Light Peak.
It's ironic Intel is providing Light Peak controllers on such an accelerated schedule. Many chip and systems companies have complained that Intel postponed until 2012 plans to include in its processor chip sets support for the USB 3.0 specification.
The Intel spokesman said Light Peak and USB 3.0 could both be used on future systems and serve complimentary roles. USB 3.0 supports rates up to 5 GigaTransfers/second and data transfers of at least 300 Mbytes/second.
Nearly 120 products have been certified complaint with the USB 3.0 spec to date, coming from companies such as Asustek, Buffalo, D-Link, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, PLX, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Western Digital. Separately, only PLX Technology showed a demo at IDF of Light Peak, using the optical link to carry PCI Express 3.0 traffic between systems.
A representative from Texas Instruments estimated as many as 40 million notebooks could ship with USB 3.0 next year. The company will sample before the end of the year a four-port USB 3.0 controller that requires no external flash and will sell for about four dollars in 100,000 unit quantities.