Corning Announces Optical USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt Cables

Corning, the New York glass manufacturer famous in the tech industry for its Gorilla Glass product, will release a new line of optical Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables, the company announced at CES Monday. Powered by the company’s ClearCurve technology, the cables will offer consumers improvements in reliability and maximum cable length with significant reductions in overall size and weight.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt Cable CESCorning's Optical Thunderbolt Cable

The new cables will have maximum lengths of 30 meters (about 100 feet) and 100 meters (about 330 feet) for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, respectively. For Thunderbolt in particular, these claimed distances are significant improvements over existing and previously-announced products. Optical Thunderbolt cables from Japanese firm Sumitomo Electric Industries, announced last week, currently max out at 30 meters.

Corning Optical USB 3.0 Cable CESCorning's "USB 3.Optical" Cable

Mike Bell, Corning’s senior vice president and general manager for Optical Connectivity Solutions, explained the benefits of the technology in the company’s press release:

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% faster; and devices can be quickly accessed and connected with this much smaller and lighter cable when the capabilities of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth just aren’t enough.

We are very excited about bringing these advancements to consumer connectivity applications.

Of note, Corning’s USB 3.0 cable will be rated to run at the interface’s standard 5 Gb/s speed, and it is not yet known if it will comply with the forthcoming 10 Gb/s specification announced Monday.

Corning lists the following specs for the cables:

USB 3.Optical

  • 5 Gb/s data rate
  • Compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices
  • Ultra-slim, “zero-bend” radius cable
  • Extends USB device reach without additional power supply
  • Hot swappable
  • Built in overcurrent protection
  • Enabled by Corning ClearCurve VSDN optical fiber

Thunderbolt Optical

  • 10 Gb/s data rate (dual channel, bi-directional data transfer)
  • Data and video on a single cable
  • Daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt devices
  • Ultra-slim, “zero-bend” radius cable
  • Hot swappable
  • Electrically isolated, noise reducing design
  • Enabled by Corning ClearCurve VSDN optical fiber

Both cables will be available by the end of the first quarter of this year, although pricing has not yet been determined.