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Light Peak equipped Macs possible for 2011


The rumor mill says that the first computers using LightPeak will arrive in the first half of 2011. And Apple might be one of the first manufacturers to include it in its Mac models, says “CNET” (

Developed by Intel, the Light Peak 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 100Gb/second 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.

I personally think that Apple will adopt Light Peak and skip USB 3.0 entirely. In fact, I think within 12 months, we may see Macs with Light Peak and no USB, FireWire or video ports.

Not everyone agrees. As “CNET” notes, there are reports of Light Peak detractors, who claim it won’t be widely implemented and that PC makers are, instead, gearing up for USB 3.0. “But the USB 3.0 start-up phase has been going on for a long time,” the article says. “Moreover, USB 3.0 is now available on laptops from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, and Toshiba (laptop port replicator, in Toshiba’s case) but only very selectively. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.”

— Dennis Sellers

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