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Initial version of Light Peak may use copper


The initial version of Light Peak will use copper instead of light-based technologies, reports “CNET” (;content), quoting “an industry source familiar with Intel’s plans.”

Developed by Intel and championed by Apple, this proposed 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.

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.

Light Peak is on track to appear in products in the first half of 2011 — and likely earlier in the year than later, says “CNET.” Intel has received backing from both Sony and Apple (as mentioned), which are expected to be among the first to use the technology.

Actually, I think we’ll see Light Peak on Macs by the middle of 2011, 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 18 months, we may see Macs with Light Peak and no USB, FireWire or video ports.

— Dennis Sellers

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