Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fiber optic speed coming to computers

High-speed data communication isn’t so speedy by the time it reaches your video player or smartphone.

Lasers may send information flying in tiny bursts of light through optical fibers across oceans and cities. But you’re still in the electronic slow lane when you’re transferring high-definition videos or other large files between devices. Then the content travels only at the rate permitted by the USB or other cord.

But soon, some data exchanges between consumer gadgets may travel at the higher rate of fiber optics, letting people transfer a Blu-ray version of “Gone With the Wind,” for example, or the complete family photo archive in less than a minute.

Later this year, Intel will introduce its Light Peak fiber optic link, in a bid to replace USB and other electrical cables that connect computers with digital cameras, music players, smartphones and dozens of other devices, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s director for the optical input-output program office. Light Peak optical cable technology, which includes computer chips and miniature lasers, will be available to manufacturers later this year, he said, for installation in products next year. Prices are not yet available from Intel.

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