Light Peak is now Thunderbolt I/O

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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.

Check out this demonstration of Light Peak/Thunderbolt (and other Light Peak video on Youtube):

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.


  1. Tomi says:

    Intel originally designed its Light Peak interconnect as an optical technology that would replace all other PC connections, handling everything from LAN to storage devices to monitors. But after the company unveiled it in 2009, PC manufacturers called for a cheaper electrical incarnation – i.e. non-optical – and due to other market pressures, this electrical version, renamed Thunderbolt, will coexist alongside the likes of USB.

    Originally, Yogec and his team moved data from silicon to an on-board optical transceiver, which could then move data at 10Gbps over distances of up to 100 meters.

    “Optical seems sexier than electrical, but eventually, when you have to pay for it and actually bring it to market, you have remove some of the cost.”

    The rub is that the current Thunderbolt technology – which debuted today on Apple Mac Pros – only works across a 3 metre cable. But according to Yogec and Ziller, Intel will eventually offer an optical cable that will plug into the existing on-system hardware, transferring data across much larger distances.


  2. Tomi says:

    Another very good article on this topic:

    Intel’s Codename Light Peak Launches as Thunderbolt

  3. tomi says:

    Intel Thunderbolt to be more widely available in April

    Intel has recently notified its partners that the company will fully release its Thunderbolt technology in April of 2012 with several first-tier PC players already preparing to launch Thunderbolt-supported motherboards, notebooks and desktop PCs, according to sources from PC players.

    Currently Sony, Asustek, Gigabyte Technology and ASRock are expected to adopt Thunderbolt technology

    Due to Thunderbolt chip costs being more than US$20 and the solution running a conflict with USB 3.0 in terms of next-generation data transmission technology, the Thunderbolt did not receive strong attention from the IT industry when announced, but as Apple has largely adopted the technology into its products such as monitor, MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air and MacBook Mini, it has strongly boosted demand.


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