Corning develops optical USB 3.0, Thunderbolt cables

Jan. 11, 2013
The Thunderbolt Optical Cable supports 10G over 100 meters, while the USB 3.Optical Cable supports 5G over 30 meters.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, Corning introduced two fiber-optic consumer-electronics cables—one compatible with Thunderbolt and the other with USB 3.0 computer/peripheral protocols and connectivity interfaces.

“USB 3.Optical and Thunderbolt Optical Cables by Corning significantly extend the data transmission range past the length limits of copper-based cables,” Corning said when announcing the cables’ development. “Optical Cables by Corning are significantly longer, 50 percent smaller, 80 percent lighter, and still stronger than comparable copper cables.”

USB 3.Optical Cables can reach lengths up to 30 meters and provide a 5-Gbit/sec data transfer rate and are compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices. Corning points out that the cable has been designed to be compatible with devices using USB 3.0 and 2.0 interfaces, but the USB-IF has not yet developed a specification for optical-fiber transmission.

The Optical Thunderbolt Cables can reach lengths up to 100 meters, providing a dual-channel, bidirectional 10-Gbit/sec data rate with data and video on a single cable, Corning says. “The ultra-slim ‘zero-bend’ radius cable has an electrically isolated noise-reducing design,” the company says, “can daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt devices at the same time, and is hot-swappable, meaning it can be attached and removed without interruption to the system.”

The company is targeting late Q1 2013 for the cables’ availability through select consumer-electronic retail chains.

Mike Bell, senior vice president and general manager of Corning’s Optical Connectivity Solutions, said, “Users can create, move and manage their data in a much more flexible, efficient and durable manner with this new technology. Video can be live-edited from across a football field; a music library can be downloaded 40 percent faster; and devices can be quickly accessed and connected with this much smaller and lighter cable when the capabilities of WiFi and Bluetooth just aren’t enough.”

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