How Light Peak Works

Light Peak Mysteries

There are several questions that Intel hasn't yet answered when it comes to their new technology. One question is whether or not Light Peak will provide power to peripherals? The USB standard can carry electricity from a computer to peripheral devices. That's why a USB keyboard or mouse doesn't need batteries. But fiber optics can't efficiently power devices. In an interview with Laptop Magazine, Intel engineer Victor Krutul explained that Light Peak will deliver power electrically rather than optically. That means Intel will bundle a copper wire along with the fiber optics within Light Peak cables. The copper wire will carry the electricity and the fibers will carry data [source: Butler].

Will Light Peak replace USB 3.0? Currently, the latest version of the USB standard hasn't made a big impact in products. The data transmission rate for USB 3.0 is less than half Light Peak's initial speed. And if Intel is right about Light Peak eventually hitting 100 gigabits per second transfer speeds, there may be little reason to move to USB 3.0. But Intel representatives have said that Light Peak isn't meant to replace or compete against USB 3.0. According to Intel, the two technologies should work together.

Could Intel be delaying support of the USB 3.0 standard while it prepares Light Peak for launch? Some journalists, such as Chris Mellor of The Register, have asked if Intel's delays in supporting USB 3.0 are motivated by a desire to promote the Light Peak technology [source: Mellor]. The official company response denies the allegation. Intel has played a role in developing USB technology, too. But while other chip manufacturers have produced chip sets that support USB 3.0, Intel has delayed production until 2012.

What we do know is that Intel has partnered with Apple. We should expect to see Apple products support Light Peak connections in the near future. Will Light Peak become the new standard for data transmission, or will it follow the example of Firewire and play second fiddle to USB? We'll have to wait and see.

Learn more about computers and data transmission by following the links below.

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  • Anderson, Kevin. "Light Peak: One connector to rule them all?" The Guardian. Sept. 29, 2009. (Feb. 2, 2011)
  • Branscombe, Mary. "Intel Light Peak: a tech guide." ZDNet. Aug. 5, 2010. (Feb. 2, 2011)
  • Butler, Kenneth. "Light Peak Explained: New Connection Standard Promises 10 Gbps Or More." Laptop. Dec. 27, 2010. (Feb. 2, 2011)
  • Faas, Ryan. "Will Light Peak leave USB 3.0 in the dust?" IT World. Nov. 5, 2010. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Ganapati, Priya. "Intel's Light Peak Technology Could Kill USB 3.0." Wired. April 15, 2010. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Hacker, Ben. "CES 2010 - Light Peak." Technology@Intel. Jan. 7, 2010. (Feb. 1, 2011)
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  • Lilly, Paul. "Intel's Light Peak Technology vs USB 3.0." Tested. April 15, 2010. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Mellor, Chris. "Intel delays USB 3.0 chipset until 2012." The Register. June 3, 2010. (Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Murphy, David. "Intel to Device Makers: Light Peak is Ready... Sans Light." PCMag. Jan. 9, 2011. (Feb. 2, 2011),2817,2375497,00.asp
  • Portnoy, Sean. "Intel Light Peak technology moving closer to USB-killing reality." ZDNet. Nov. 4, 2010. (Feb. 1, 2011)
  • Shah, Agam. "Intel says Light Peak interconnect technology is ready." ComputerWorld. Jan. 8, 2011. (Feb. 2, 2011)

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