Light Peak Will Not See Wide-Spread Adoption - Chip Developer

Prospects of Light Peak Seen Uncertain by Via Labs

by Anton Shilov
12/10/2010 | 03:42 PM

Light Peak fiber-optic interconnection is among the most-discussed technologies these days. At present only developers know the cost of implementation of Light Peak and not a lot of people understand actual benefits of the technology for contemporary devices. According to Via Labs Inc., a designer of input/output controllers, Light Peak would hardly get as popular as universal serial bus (USB).


"We believe that Light Peak will not see wide-spread adoption, despite Intel’s or Apple’s best efforts. We see Light Peak more as a bus than a true interface, since it seems to be good way to piggyback multiple protocols through a single cable. Light Peak’s breakthrough application might be in the docking station segment, but it should be noted that in that particular use, Light Peak does not actually replace any ports. It basically moves them from the mobile device to the dock," said Terrance Shih, a product manager at VIA Labs, in an interview with SemiAccurate web-site.

The first incarnation of Light Peak will support bandwidth of up to 10Gb/s, which is two times higher than that of USB 3.0, but what will not bring any significant gains to all available peripherals, except, perhaps, external graphics cards or portable solid-state drives. The implementation of Light Peak is estimated to cost from $5 to $10, if not higher, despite of Intel's promise of $2 per port.

"USB is the most successful interface in history and there are literally billions of devices in existence. In all likelihood, USB will become the longest-lived interface of all time! The only way for Light Peak to gain significant traction as a USB replacement is if hordes of end-users suddenly decided to replace all of their USB peripheral devices with those that supported Light Peak, but this is of course very unlikely," added Mr. Shih.

Interestingly, but the talks about the Light Peak occur amid relatively tepid welcome of USB 3.0 both by consumers and manufacturers. While there are people who benefit from USB 3.0, they do not form majority of computer users. As a result, there are not a lot of USB 3.0 peripherals. In case the rumours about adoption of Light Peak by Apple and Sony next year are true, then, there will be simply no add-on devices for the interface in 2011 since the two companies command less than 5% of the PC market.