Apple and Intel unveil Thunderbolt I/O technology today. After years of waiting Apple has launched its implementation of Intel’s Light Peak standard and it’s called Thunderbolt. It promises 10Gb/second transfer rates using fiber optics. Thunderbolt is making its appearance on new MacBook Pro models.
Intel’s broader vision is to have Light Peak to replace the myriad specialty ports on laptops and desktop machines with one that can do just about everything, while scaling its bandwidth potential to support future computing needs. The optical connector looks pretty small and compact. Apple suggests this will be useful for external RAID arrays, Gigabit Ethernet adapters, and also mentions support for “FireWire and USB consumer devices” along with HDMI, DVI, and VGA over DisplayPort. Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols. There are two independent channels, with full 10 Gbps of bandwidth. Daisy-chaining will be possible, along with bus-powered devices, and cables can be made using either optical or electrical construction.
The naming seems to shifting from Light Peak to Thunderbolt. Intel has thrown up its page on the technology, and it looks like the Light Peak name is officially no more.
Intel is already working on faster technologies. Intel demos chips that can transfer an HD movie in 1 second using Intel’s 50Gbps Light Peak Successor.