Superfast Optical Interface Coming to Apple Gadgets Soon?

Fan sites are awash with rumors that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is set to refresh its devices and computers with a high-speed optical cable interface technology from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) appropriately dubbed Light Peak. Another early adopter could be Sony, according to a CNET report from this past Saturday.

The publication speculated that upcoming gadgets and computers from the California consumer-electronics powerhouse could be fitted with this technology by default:

"Apple is expected to adopt this technology in the near future -- but likely use a name other than Light Peak, a source familiar with this aspect of Apple's plans said. Intel has said in the past that the first products using Light Peak should appear in the first half of 2011."

But what does it mean to you? Well, how about transferring an entire Blu-ray movie in less than 10 seconds?

It's also possible that the upcoming MacBook Pros with Sandy Bridge processors might sport Light Peak, allowing you to hook up high-speed compatible peripherals to your notebook. CNET's report could be accurate, considering that Intel first promised Light Peak products during the first half of 2011. The chip maker demoed Light Peak in 2009 on a machine running Mac OS X.

There's a lot to be excited about with Light Peak. Conceived as a replacement for a variety of connection technologies in use today, namely SATA, eSATA, USB, FireWire, PCI Express, and even DisplayPort, Light Peak is said to deliver a whopping 10 gigabits per second, eventually scaling by 2020 all the way up to an incredible 100Gbps.

How fast is 10Gbps, you ask? FireWire 800 tops out at 800Mbps, more than 10 times as slow. FireWire 400 and USB 3 can pump out data at 400Mbps and 3.2Gbps, respectively. Even with USB 3 being the fastest consumer interface technology in use today (not on Macs, though), the slowest 10Gbps Light Peak comes in three times as fast as USB 3. Steve Jobs reportedly wrote in response to a fan inquiring about USB 3 on Macs that Apple is skipping on USB 3 entirely:

"We don't see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example."

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