Corning's Thunderbolt and USB 'Optical Cables' transmit data over hundreds of feet

Corning's Thunderbolt Optical Cable (left) and USB 3.Optical Cable (right). | Source: Corning

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Making good on a promise to unveil new interconnect products at CES, Gorilla Glass producer Corning on Monday revealed optical Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables that can transfer data over hundreds of feet.

Corning's new "Thunderbolt Optical Cables" and "USB 3.Optical Cables" both use the company's ClearCurve VSDN optical fiber technology to significantly extend the range of data transmission over traditional copper-based products. According to Corning, the new cables are also stronger than copper cables despite being 50 percent smaller and 80 percent lighter.

Corning teased the Thunderbolt version of its aptly-named "Optical Cable" in an announcement last week regarding the company's upcoming Gorilla Glass 3.

While data speeds won't be boosted by the optical fiber tech, enterprise or professional users may be interested in the products' support of ultra-long cable runs. Corning says the USB 3.Optical Cables max out at 100 feet (30 meters), while the Thunderbolt Optical Cables can reach lengths up to 330 feet (100 meters) without daisy chaining devices.

“Users can create, move and manage their data in a much more flexible, efficient and durable manner with this new technology," said Mike Bell, senior vice president and general manager of Corning's Optical Connectivity Solutions. "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.”

Both products feature an "ultra-slim, zero-bend" radius cable with a noise-reducing design. The Thunderbolt version allows for full bi-directional 10Gbps data rates, while the USB 3.0 iteration provides 5Gbps and is backward-compatible with USB 2.0.

Corning expects the Optical Cables to go on sale sometime in the first quarter but gave no word on pricing.