There are currently a few simple standards of connectivity for electronic devices. The most popular and well-known is USB (Universal Serial Bus) which has speeds of up to 480 Mb/s (megabits per second) with USB 2.0. This is what you will find with your little flash media drive (or Thumb Drive as some college students call it), your external hard drive, and it’s also what you would typically connect your camera to your computer with. USB 1.0 is barely used today, except when connecting something like a printer to your computer.
The next form of data transfer technology you may have heard of is Firewire. For the most part, Firewire has been adopted as an Apple Computer standard, and isn’t found included with every PC. Firewire (The 6-pin port pictured above) is a more constant speed of transfer, allowing up to 400Mb/s transfer stream with Firewire 400, and 800 Mb/s transfer stream with Firewire 800. In the latest years of Apple Computers, Firewire 400 has been abandoned and the newest Macbook Pros come with only USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 for data transfer. Firewire is a more constant transfer medium, as opposed to USB, which speed tends to fluctuate.
The next thing is USB 3.0. Right now, USB 3.0 seems like a wonderful thing with speeds up to 3.2 Gb/s (Gigabits per second). It’s faster than USB 2.0, Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 combined! Many PCs have adopted USB 3.0, however Apple hasn’t included that in their computers. Up until today, I thought this was somewhat foolish, and couldn’t understand why. Then I remembered that this is Apple I’m thinking about here. They have to have something up their sleeves… indeed, they just might.
Presenting Light Peak, by Intel. In the video below, Jason Ziller of Intel shows you “Light Peak,” a form of Optical data transfer capable of transfer speeds three times that of USB 3.0. It starts at 10 Gb/s and will be worked to exceed 100 Gb/s over the next 9 years. What’s great about this technology is its support for multiple existing I/O protocols simultaneously, allowing people to use it to connect to their computers, phones, printers, external monitors, hard drives, and likely the actual internet as well in the future.
It’s essentially this very thin fiber, about as thin as a human hair, inside a long cable. The transceiver from Intel featured in this video below, is very small compared to today’s transceivers (also at 10 GB/s) that aid in carrying the load of long distance telephone calls.
9to5 Mac has reported that this technology could be making its way to Macs in early 2011. This is actually perfect timing to support the rumor they presented us with earlier about the Mac computers getting a complete refresh in a few days, when they showed us an inventory list detailing new models from BestBuy.
But is this even believable? Could we soon be seeing 10 Gb/s speeds out of Macbooks? That would be impressive, and if New Macbooks do come soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if this technology was inside them. Apple has a history of always being ahead of everyone in some aspects of innovation… and computer technology like this can easily be seen as one of them. The initial release of this technology would feature copper wires, however the optical part (and the most exciting part) is going to be placed into the spotlight in the next few years! When that happens, we’ll likely see speeds of 100 Gb/s or more!
What do you guys think? I mean, I’m not one to spread rumors and stuff, cause this isn’t really a big rumor. It’s something cool to think about though. Can you imagine data transfer speeds of 10 Gb/s? can you imagine being able to transfer data equal to a Blu-Ray Disc in under 30 seconds? Damn!
UPDATE: Light Peak is included in the new Macbook Pros! Apple is calling it “Thunderbolt.“
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