[Interview] Intel Discusses 'Light Peak' Interface

Sep 15, 2010
Hiroki Yomogita, Nikkei Electronics
Jason Ziller, director, Optical I/O Planning/Marketing, Intel Architecture Group, Intel Corp
Jason Ziller, director, Optical I/O Planning/Marketing, Intel Architecture Group, Intel Corp
[Click to enlarge image]

Intel Corp has been developing Light Peak, an interface for optical transmission, which is aimed at notebook PCs and netbooks. The company expects that it will become possible to integrate the signal transmissions of USB 3.0, PCI Express, etc by using the interface for physical layers (See related article).

We interviewed Jason Ziller, director, Optical I/O Planning/Marketing, Intel Architecture Group, Intel, about Light Peak. (Interviewer: Hiroki Yomogida, Nikkei Electronics)

Q: What is the aim of the development of Light Peak?

Ziller: We have two aims. First, we want to realize a high-speed and scalable external interface. The transmission speed of Light Peak is 10Gbps at first, but it is possible to enhance it to about 100Gbps. We sorely needed such a wideband interface for the future.

The second goal is to integrate interfaces. Existing notebook PCs and netbooks require a large number of connectors and cables to handle various external interfaces that use different protocols. On the other hand, there are demands for reducing the number of connectors of netbooks as they become smaller.

In theory, Light Peak can be used for transmitting signals with different protocols such as USB 3.0, DisplayPort and PCI Express. Therefore, it is possible to reduce the required number of connectors and cables by using Light Peak, removing obstacles to reducing the sizes of devices.

Q: What will be the applications of Light Peak?

Ziller: Light Peak will be used for expanding the input-output interfaces of notebook PCs, netbooks and tablet PCs. For example, they will be connected to external storage devices and displays by using Light Peak. It can drastically enhance the speed of data transmission to peripheral devices.

Q: Is Light Peak mainly used for external interfaces, such as connection to peripheral devices? Or will it also be utilized for appliance wiring such as on a circuit board or between chips?

Ziller: At first, we intend to use it for external interfaces. But, in the future, it is possible that Light Peak will be used for appliance wiring.

Q: Is it possible to transmit HDMI signals on Light Peak?

Ziller: In theory, Light Peak can transmit any protocols. In any case, whether it will be realized or not depends on our clients (device makers).

Q: Is it possible that Light Peak will be used for mobile devices like smartphones?

Ziller: In the long run, yes. The early Light Peak is targeted at, for example, netbooks and not suited for small devices like mobile phones. But I think Light Peak will be applied to small devices including smartphones in a few years by optimizing it.

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