Current Thunderbolt Ports Compatible With Fiber Optic Cables to be Released Next Year
Thunderbolt ports installed in Apple’s current batch of Mac products will be compatible with fiber optic versions of Thunderbolt cables slated for release next year according to Intel.
Thunderbolt—originally called Lightpeak—relied solely on fiber optics to transfer data. While this process provided amazing speeds, it was also extremely expensive and couldn’t provide enough power to external devices. Apple then stepped in and helped Intel develop the copper-based variant known as Thunderbolt. However, Intel promised today that current copper based Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with fiber-optic versions of the same cables.
Fiber optic versions of Thunderbolt cables will increase the distance data can transfer from up to six meters via copper to “tens of meters,” according to Intel spokesman Dave Salvator. These new Thunderbolt cables could vastly increase the already blazing fast Thunderbolt transfer speeds of 10Gbps. However, this technology is still extremely expensive to implement on the controller side of the equation. Dadi Perimutter—general manager of the Intel Architecture Group—mentioned during an IDF interview the technology could be years away from mass adoption mainly because of its high cost.
The blazing fast future of fiber-optic based I/O’s may be a ways off, but Thunderbolt is likely more than enough for most users. Unless you’re me and wish there was a faster way to dump 100GB+ of high-def video footage off a NAND Flash drive. Gripes aside, the minor shortcomings of Thunderbolt (slow adoption, short cable distance) appear to be waning as more manufacturers (Acer, Asustek) adopt the I/O interface. Someday all physical media will be obsolete and everything will be in the cloud. The only thing preventing this storage utopia are the ISP's and telecoms (at least in the U.S.).
Source: PC World