Corning's Optical Cables for Big Data Transfers First Look

Corning makes a big splash every year at CES with a new version of Gorilla Glass. For 2014 it showed off an antimicrobial version of its glass technology that's actually germ resistant. Very cool, but it wasn't the only exciting thing at CES 2014. Corning also showed off its optical interconnect technology for Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, and USB 3.0 that ensures that the bottlenecks aren't in the cabling. These cables convert the electrical output of a standard Thunderbolt 1, 2 or USB 3.0 ports to optical, which allows the cables to be much longer than your standard copper cables while still maintaining signal quality and speed. With these cables you can get up to 5 Gb/s on USB, up to 10 GB/s on Thunderbolt and up to 20 Gb/s on Thunderbolt 2 with cables as long as 60 meters. The other cool feature of Corning's optical cables is that they are a lot more flexible than most optical cables. They can be bent, squeezed, and even tied into a knot.

At CES, Corning had a neat little demo station set up with a 4K video workflow. A BlackMagic Cinema Camera and a couple of Thunderbolt drive enclosures were hooked up to the new Mac Pro and a 4K monitor, demonstrating how you can use these cables in your own post-production environment. You can check out Gabriela Allen from Corning walking us through their setup in the video below.

Corning's Optical cables are available from a number of online resellers that focus on equipment for post-production, including the Apple Store and B&H. These cables, of course, are priced at a premium compared to standard Thunderbolt and USB cables, but that is to be expected considering the length at which they are available.

They're by no means the most economical solution, but for professionals who demand the best, these are likely it. The 33 ft. 10 m Thunderbolt cable is $329, and the 100 ft. 30 m is $699. The 200 ft. 60 m cables have not yet been released, but should be soon, and pricing is TBA. You can learn more about Corning's Optical cables on their site.

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  • vern72
    I thought that doing the conversion to optical and back would suck too much power from the port. Guess that ain't true.
  • Grandmastersexsay
    Thunderbolt is a closed standard designed with DRM in mind. Just like HDMI, it will restrict manufactures from making video capture cards. Thunderbolt simply won't license the technology. Support open standards like USB 3.0 which is fully capable of doing 1080p. Surely USB 4.0 or whatever it will be called will be able to handle 4K.
  • MannyBones
    I bet some guy who installs home theater is already trying to figure out how to use this to power 4K TV's throughout some rich guy's McMansion.