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Short Life For USB 3.0?


Intel’s Light Peak optical connectivity technology, which promises super-high-speed transfers that crush USB 3.0 transfer speeds, is moving closer to being shipped in real products.

Sources say that Light Peak-wielding devices will appear in the first half, and probably closer to January than to June. That accelerated time frame means that USB 3.0 may never become the mainstream success that its 1.0 and 2.0 predecessors have been. It doesn’t help the USB cause that Light Peak can move data at 10Gbps in both directions simultaneously, which trumps the transfer speeds the latest iteration of USB provides.

One big proponent of Light Peak is Apple, and the time frame of the technology’s market introduction will surely fire up speculation that new Macs introduced in 2011 will be sporting it. In addition, Intel could tout Light Speed support in its newest chips; it currently does not officially support USB 3.0, though that hasn’t stopped many PCs from shipping with USB 3.0 connectivity.

Light Peak also has bigger ambitions, perhaps becoming the replacement for HDMI ports as well. Already a Light Peak to HDMI converter is in the works, but it may be a tougher sell to get TV and home theater manufacturers to ditch HDMI for this new interface. In any event, this is definitely one of the stories to watch when CES and MacWorld conferences come around in January.

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