Apple, Companies, Hardware

Superfast Light Peak Optical Interface Coming to Apple Gadgets Soon?

Fan sites are awash with rumors that Apple is set to refresh their devices and computers with a high-speed optical cable interface technology from Intel appropriately dubbed Light Peak. Another early adopter could be Sony, according to a CNET report from this past Saturday.

The publication speculated that upcoming gadgets and computers from the Californian consumer electronics powerhouse could be fitted with this technology by default:

Apple is expected to adopt this technology in the near future–but likely use a name other than Light Peak, a source familiar with this aspect of Apple’s plans said. Intel has said in the past that the first products using Light Peak should appear in the first half of 2011.

But what does it mean to you? How about transferring an entire Blu-ray movie in under 10 seconds?

It’s also possible that the upcoming MacBook Pros with Sandy Bridge processors might sport Light Peak, allowing you to hook up high-speed compatible peripherals to your notebook. CNET’s report could be accurate considering that Intel promised first Light Peak products during the first half of 2011. The chip maker demoed Light Peak in 2009 on a machine running Mac OS X.

There’s a lot to be excited about Light Peak. Conceived as a replacement for a variety of connection technologies in use today, namely SATA, eSATA, USB, FireWire, PCI Express and even DisplayPort, Light Peak is said to deliver a whooping 10 gigabits per second, eventually scaling by 2020 all the way up to an incredible 100Gbps. How fast 10Gbps exactly is, you ask.

For comparison, FireWire 800 tops out at 800Mbps, ten times slower than Light Peak. FireWire 400 and USB 3 can pump out data at 400Mbps and 3.2Gbps, respectively. Even with USB 3 being the fastest consumer interface technology in use today (not on Macs, though), the slowest 10Gbps Light Peak comes in three times faster than USB 3. Steve Jobs reportedly wrote in response to a fan inquiring about USB 3 on Macs that Apple is skipping on USB 3 entirely:

We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.

In addition to a much higher data transfer rates, Light Peak could also replace a plethora of various interfaces with a single type of interface, thereby reducing the proliferation of incompatible ports on our computers and mobile devices. The above image shows a typical Light Peak connector (image credit: In other words, Light Peak means no more messing with various cables to connect displays, printers, external storage, scanners and other peripherals to your Mac because all of them will eventually use the ubiquitous Light Peak connection. Of course, for this to happen Light Peak has to take off and the prime requisite for this is that the industry adopts this proprietary interface technology from Intel.