Thursday, November 18, 2010

Know about Light Peak

Light Peak is often termed as "USB3 replacement" or USB 3 Killer. A recent announcement by Intel about early arrival of Light peak interface in mid 2011 raises the hopes of its take-off.

Some facts about Light peak
What is Light peak?
Over a period of time, many types of interfaces like Serial, parallel, SATA, SCSI , USB etc got evolved. These interfaces or buses have many limitation mainly speed and compatibility. Now time has reached where all these interfaces can be replaced with some new generation interfaces. Light peak is one of such intended candidate.
Light peak is an interface based on optical technology, developed and promoted by Intel/Apple, capable to carry data at the rate of 10gigabits/second in both directions.

Why light peak termed as USB 3.0 killer ?

It’s all because of Intel’s stand on USB 3.0 and Light Peak, as of now.
Though USB 3.0 (speed 4.8Gbits/s or 3.2 MB/sec) is almost 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/s & USb 1.0 is 1.5 Mbit/s ) , Intel has yet to implement it in its various chipset family of motherboards. That’s why majority of modern PCs which are based on Intel chipsets and even Apple’s Macbook has not equipped with USB 3.0 directly.(Though , using PCIe cards one can add USB 3.0 using add-on card). Also many peripherals like External HDD, tape devices, Printers do not get much benefit out of USB 3.0 due to their own technological reasons. Intel is already serving the need of higher speed by providing e-SATA interface hence eclipsing the demand of USB 3.0.Now Light peak is going to see light sooner which is 3 times faster than USB3.0 and capable to be 300 times faster in next decade , hence it is termed as USB 3.0 killer.(Details on USB 3.0: )
The shining part of USB 3.0 is universally adoptability across the platforms ranging from PC to media players, its backward compatibility with USB 2.0 and 1.0 ,and its simplicity . USB interface is able to fulfill the most of the user’s need.

Point to note that Light peak and USB are not compatible with each other.

How fast Light peak is ?

If one has to express how fast light peak is , one may refer Intel which says " At 10Gb/s, you could transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds."

Salient features of Light peak

  1. Light Peak is based on fiber optic technology hence faster. Data delivery and transmission in fiber optics cable is much better, almost twice as compared to copper wire. The throughput of data is determined by the frequency which cable carries. More the frequency, more the throughput. Fiber optics supports much higher frequencies for data transfer. Additionally, by polarizing the light signals, more data can be sent using fiber optics.(Refer: )
  2. Light peak supports cable lengths of up to 100 meters. Note that USB 3.0 support up 3 meters, USB 2.0 up to 5 meters, and USB 1 up to 3 meters.
  3. On performance parameter, Light Peak eclipses every other interface available in market as of now. It is as high as 10 Gbps, it is capable to upscale up 100 Gbps.USB 3.0 supports up to 4.8 Gbps, USB 2.0 , 480 Mbps and USB 1.0 is 1.5 Mbit/s.
  4. Light Peak is bi directional and hot pluggable. Support for Multiple protocols is another characteristic.
  5. Light peak is perceived as a single universal replacement for available buses like USB/SATA/e-SATA/Firewire/SCSI/HDMI etc.These buses posses limited transfer capabilities & requires multiple connectors which creates compatibility problems.
Questions with Light peak
  1. Can Light peak be single replacement of all interfaces or add one more in plethora of interfaces and cables?
  2. Is it going to be as simple as USB when comes to implementation?
  3. Optical cables are fragile and complex in handling, how nicely light peak will implement it?
  4. How would it affect the cost of PC, total cost of ownership etc?
  5. And last but not least why cannot both USB 3.0 and Light peak co-exist in user space?
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