Perhaps Apple will skip USB 3.0 entirely and go with Light Peak
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Perhaps Apple will skip USB 3.0 entirely and go with Light Peak

I still haven't bitten the bullet and upgraded to a new iMac for a few reasons. One is that I was certain that USB 3.0 would be included, but wasn't. At first I felt that another iMac revision might be coming sooner than expected (early 2011?) with USB 3.0 support, but now I'm not so certain.

The more I think about it, Apple likes to push the envelope, and it's possible the company will forego USB 3.0 entirely and make the quantum leap to LightSpeed sooner than anyone expects.

Developed by Intel, Light Peak 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 (of course, Steve Jobs doesn't' like Blu-ray, but still....). 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.

So I'm thinking that perhaps we'll see Light Peak on Macs in the first half of 2011, at first serving as a complement to existing ports. For example, there's no conflict between USB 2.0 and Light Peak. Macs could sport both. Of course, they could sport Light Peak and USB 3.0 connectivity, as well.

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.

So it may be that Apple will simply skip USB 3.0 for Light Peak. I don't think it will happen, but that's certainly a possibility. And for those who would prefer an eSATA port to USB 3.0, OWC (http://www.macsales.com) makes a Turnkey Upgrade Installation Program worth investigating.

That said, I do wish that the new iMacs had an HDMI port and Blu-ray playback support. These are things that mar it from being a near-perfect computer for the living room, as well as the office. I think "CNET" put it well in a review that otherwise loved the new iMac when they said "its dependence on an adapter for home entertainment sticks out like a blemish."

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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