What's in store for the Mac? Light Peak
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What's in store for the Mac? Light Peak

I've never been shy about making what some consider wacky predictions. So here's my latest: by 2014, Macs will no longer have dedicated USB, FireWire or video ports (or eSATA, for that matter). Instead, they'll have Light Peak.

Developed by Intel and codenamed "Light Peak," this technology paves the way for a new generation of extreme computer input and output (I/O) performance, delivering 10Gb/s of bandwidth, with the potential ability to scale to 100Gbs over the next decade, according to David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager, Intel Architecture Group. At 10Gb/second, a user could purportedly transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. Intel says it intends to work with the industry to determine the best way to make this new technology a standard.

The optical technology allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible. Light Peak also has the ability to run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable, enabling the technology to connect devices such as peripherals, displays, disk drives, docking stations, and more. Think of it like loading up many cars onto a high-speed bullet train.

Actually, I think we'll see Light Peak on Macs with the next 12 months, at first serving as a complement to existing ports. For example, there's no conflict between USB 3.0 and Light Peak. Intel says they see Light Peak and USB 3.0 as complementary, as the former enables USB and other protocols to run together on a single, longer cable and at higher speeds in the future.

But eventually Light Peak will be a replacement for the cables that currently lead to monitors, external drives, scanners, and just about anything else that plugs in to a computer. A Mac could have a number of Light Peak ports for different devices, or a connection could lead to a hub with multiple connections of its own.

There are rumors that Apple will introduce Light Speed on Macs this fall in a line of computers Macs destined for back-to-school shoppers. Following the initial launch, there are purportedly plans to roll out a low-power variation in 2011, which could lead to more widespread adoption in handhelds and cellphones, according to an "Engadget" report (http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/26/exclusive-apple-dictated-light-peak-c...).

The plans show a roadmap that includes Light Peak being introduced to the iPhone iPod platform to serve as a gateway for multimedia and networking outputs. These things will happen -- but I think this prediction is about a year ahead of schedule.

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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