It hasn't been very long at all since Intel and Apple trotted out the new line of MacBook Pros that were the first notebooks to brandish the Thunderbolt interface. Thunderbolt is a very fast interface for connecting peripherals that Intel says is a complement to USB 3.0, not a replacement.
Thunderbolt might not be a replacement for USB 3.0, but Intel is already looking ahead to the replacement of Thunderbolt. The replacement isn’t far away either with Intel eyeing 2015 for the launch of the new interconnect with a will have up to five times the speed of Thunderbolt according to an Intel researcher.
The new interface will use silicon photonics that combines silicon with optical networking. It will be capable of carrying up to 50 gigabits per second at distances of up to 100 meters according to Jeff Demain at Intel Labs. Intel is expecting the tech to turn up in all sorts of devices from PCs to smartphones, TV, and tablets by 2015.
The cost of the interface will be lower than today's interface because it will be built using silicon manufacturing techniques of today. The interface would allow the TV and set top boxes in the consumer's home to carry more data and allow more to be pushed to the TV. It will also make for faster data transfer to smartphones and tablets as well.
Non-functional cable mock ups was shown at an event in New York this week and PC World reports that the cables are thinner than USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables of today. Intel also thinks that Thunderbolt of today will coexist in some product with the new interface.
Demain said, "We see them as complementary. It's the evolution of these connectors and protocols as they move forward. Thunderbolt is more than a cable. It's a router chip that aggregates DisplayPort and PCI-Express."