Intel Light Peak Technology

I do occasionally scout the forums on MacRumors but like any good forum out there it is really hit or miss. Aside from the grandstanding of folks who’ve apparently tirelessly been waiting for an Apple MBP update who now believe they were “screwed” and will be waiting for the next revision, it tends to be ground zero for some of the new Apple technologies coming soon.

One of those technologies is Intel’s Light Peak tech. In short it replaces a copper wire based bus system internally with one made of fiber-optic conduit. I’ve read some reports that suggest Apple originally came to Intel with the need/want to reduce the physical size of the cable bundles inside its machines.

Closeup of fiber-optic connector

Light Peak Connector

In a machine with some breathing room the 4-wire USB bundle doesn’t seem large, but given how many ports are used in portable machines today and that space is a premium in those enclosures I can see the problem.

Unfortunately the tech isn’t ready for primetime, yet. Engadget ran a story yesterday that reported that Intel is claiming it’ll probably be ready for primetime late this year or early next year. One of the things they’re still working on is providing power to these ports in addition to data. That means augmenting those fiber bundles with some copper to carry electrons back and forth (bummer) with those photons.

LightPeak coexisting with USB3

Light Peak coexisting with USB3

Back to MacRumors for a second: There’s a little kerfluffle there about waiting for this technology to supplant USB3.0. I don’t think that’s going to happen: From what I understand the end-use ports can still be ferried information via LightPeak’s project 10 GB/s throughput. The end user will still be able to use whatever ports they’d like but internally manufacturers could use cables with a lot less bulk and connect them to an insanely speedy bus.

Personally I’m excited to see this tech out in the mainstream. Let’s hope Intel continues getting their act together.