back to article Is Apple behind Intel's speedy optical link?

The high-speed Light Peak optical interconnect that Intel unveiled at last week's developer confab was developed as a result of a CEO-to-CEO interconnect between Apple's Steve Jobs and Intel's Paul Otellini. That is, if Engadget's "extremely reliable source" is correct. According to that website's report, the idea for Light …


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  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    This is good news. I thought the USB 3.0 spec was a hoax until I saw that it was getting backing. A new cable physically on top of the old cable? Seriously? If Light Peak is Apple's idea, giving it to Intel to promote is the right thing to do. Intel has credibility and willingness to work with many manufacturers. Apple/Jobs, not so much.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Advanced IntelAIgents Virtual Defence Forces ..... RePhormed dDutch IntelAIgents

    That's Pretty Impressive Ball Control Perceived with Apple Corps. What would be Steve' s Insatiable Goal? ..... aka Pure Loded Source Code for Transparent Steganographic BroadBandCasting of CyberIntelAIgent Instructional Messages ............ for Future Derivative Options with Special Forces Supplied ProgramMINGs. ........ in Irregular and Unconventional Virtualised Fields.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Excellent - I can now download my porn and work.

  4. Robert Moore
    Jobs Halo

    Not the first

    This is not the first time Apple has helped to bring something new into use.

    Think of USB. Sure it existed before Apple decided to use it in their iMacs for Keyboard and mouse, but I had never seen anything that used it. Apple adopts USB as its only external interface and within a year I am seeing Keyboards, Mice, Printers, Scanners, and even some painfully slow USB hard drives.

    Thanks Steve, Thanks Apple.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    One thing is not known yet

    Yup, fiber, optic.

    is this Light Peak - plastic or glass? the video nor the PDF's doesn't give any details..

  6. Gordon Ross Silver badge


    But wasn't this the idea bethind USB & Firewire: To replace all those connectors on the back of PCs/Macs with a single connector ?

    And where have we got to ? Machines have USB, Firewire, eSATA, DVI & digital audio ports. PS2 & RS-232 are often still found hanging on in there too.

  7. Aaron 10
    Jobs Halo

    Driving Force

    Apple seems to be the driving force behind many new technologies. As Robert (Roger?) Moore pointed out, before the original iMac, USB peripherals were few and far between. Now we can get USB handwarmers. We can thank Steve Jobs for that.

    I thought Firewire would be a bigger player than it ended up being. USB2 really squelched a lot of Firewire's, er, fire. Even Steve himself defended the lack of Firewire ports on early MacBook Pros because a lot of new digital camcorders use USB now. (I thought that excuse was half-baked then, and the market agreed.)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    @Aaron 10

    Firewire never gained the massive traction some anticipated because Apple required everyone who implemented it to pay exorbitant licence fees. They couldn't do this with USB because the standard already existed and it wasn't theirs to control. It didn't matter that Firewire is better for high bandwidth devices, and USB 2.0 added to the blow by finally making USB usable (but not perfect) for things like mass storage.

    Apple is due with some credit for assisting the rapid adoption of USB, but hopefully they won't try to be so greedy this time around as they were with Firewire. It looks like by getting Intel to do the real work of implementing it that they may have learned their lesson.

  9. Mr Bear

    What's the point?

    What's the point in having one cable that everything can use to connect to your computer with, if you have a dozen different things that need plugging in? You still need a dozen cables.

    Now if monitors were designed as hubs then everything could plug into that and then having one cable running off to the computer. That might at least tidy up some desks.

    'You owe me a new keyboard' as mine is only USB and not 10gig fibre optic.

  10. James O'Brien

    Whats firewire?

    " Other now-widespread technologies have been conceived at One Infinite Loop then gone on to become industry standards. Think FireWire"

    When I think about Firewire I don't get a whole lot. Problem with that statement is this, Firewire was a good idea yes. It was faster then USB but trouble was Apple kept it internal for far too long and when they finally released it it was too late because USB had already taken over the majority of the market. Not to mention even Apple are not putting Firewire on their latest laptops. Lets face it, Firewire is dead and more so now that USB3 is out. Certain cameras have it yet and some (YES SOME) external drives. When I went looking for one with it at the local store (needed it right now) I couldn't find one to save my life.

    I will agree with Gordon Ross though to some extent. It was supposed to have replaced all that BUT trouble is I couldnt see USB powering HDMI monitor or even VGA. Can't see it being able to sustain the required bandwidth for those. As for the RS232 and PS/2 ports I havent seen RS232 on a board in years and PS/2 is still nice to have atleast one of those available incase you find USB wont work for some reason in BIOS or Setups. Seen it on Dells usually I end up swearing alot because some of their machines dont have a PS/2 and it was needed to install the OS. Go figure.

    Firewire is dead let it rest in peace.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James O'Brien

    All currently shipping MacBooks and MacBook Pros have a Firewire port of some description. Only the Air lacks it.

    I prefer it over USB 2.0. It daisy-chains nicely, data transfer rates are superior and bus-powered devices are 100% reliable (c.f. kludgy double-plug USB cables - cross your fingers and go).

    Regarding licensing, Jobs set the fee at $1 per port on his return to Apple (it's current at $0.25). That's not a whole lot of money in the scheme of things.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    So... what?

    Carrying multiple serial protocols (USB, Firewire, RS232, Ethernet- even more parallel stuff like IEEE 1284 and video if you've got the relevant encoder chip) is a piece of piss- you take the signal in from the device and get an ASIC to slap some header info on the data and then fire it out to a laser transceiver. At the other end you reverse the process. With, say, an established premium market to provide "early adopters" and your own silicon design/fab people- funnily enough, that would be exactly who did the presentation- then you'd be able to very easily fit that into a single chip at a price point people would be willing to pay. So it's not exactly "paradigm-shifting" technology...

    In case that^^ sounds like bull, in my last job I was responsible for the design of a system with 16 unidirectional video channels, 2x bidirectional Gigabit ethernet links and a couple of megabits worth of serial/DIO/AIO comms- all over a single fiber. So I'm not exactly new to this...

    I don't see what advantage this will have for the majority of users, except it's not utterly retarded like the USB3 "Yeah, so we'll take the old convenient, compact(ish) connector and... we'll put a bloody great blob on the top." approach but provides a higher bandwidth and should have a connector that looks pretty sleek. Looks like they're using a 4-channel CWDM to get the 4 fibers, so that'll be one primary and one redundant fiber in each direction- so these things should be sufficiently robust for home use.

    Definately not a fail, though- it's a useful, important evolution. But it's not, as presented, the revolution many will undoubtedly make it out to be.

    ROTM as more and more optical systems means less and less effective EMP weaponry when the machines rise up...

  13. Robert Hill

    @Mr Bear

    Don't know about YOURS, but my monitor has a couple of USB 2.0 ports to act as a hub, and it's a common Dell. I use it to plug in my wireless mouse dongle and my webcam. Perhaps you should upgrade?

  14. h 6


    My Apple monitor has had 2 powered USB ports on it since 2001, and their keyboards had 2 USB ports on them a year or two before that. A lefty? Plug your mouse into the USB port on the left side of the keyboard and off you go!

    Apple = brilliant design.

  15. Oflife

    A crude similar idea, from 1991...

  16. Thomas Bottrill

    RE: What's the point?

    "What's the point in having one cable that everything can use to connect to your computer with, if you have a dozen different things that need plugging in? You still need a dozen cables."

    Yes, but you'd be able to plug whatever you want into those twelve ports. So you could have a keyboard, mouse and ten monitors, or keyboard, mouse, two monitors, a printer and seven hard drives.

    I guess it should also reduce the costs of cables, since shops would only need to stock one type and manufactuers would only need to manufacture one type, but we all know that PC World et al would still try to charge you twenty quid a metre.

  17. Chris Tierney
    Jobs Halo

    Monitor all taped up.

    I want one but dunno who makes it.

  18. Jad

    I WANT!


    I don't even care if i have to have a mac ... or that i have no devices for it ... it fires friggin' laser beams!

  19. magnetik

    Firewire licensing

    Apple charges 25c per port for firewire licensing. Is that exorbitant? Not in my book ..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Light Peak also fits in well with Steve Jobs's mantra of "simplify, simplify, simplify." One cable to rule them all, as it were."

    This is the same Apple that forces custom USB cables for the iPod and introduces proprietary standards for video connection and so forth?

    Job's mantra is "complicate, complicate, complicate... and then charge for fixing the complications".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DMA or NOT DMA, that is he question!

    "When I think about Firewire I don't get a whole lot. Problem with that statement is this, Firewire was a good idea yes"

    OC Firewire is and was from day one DMA capable, were as USB is not, i dont even htink the new USB3 is now made to be DMA capable, hopefully this new 10Gbit+ generic link is, and you Can always Bond several togetehr too it seems, IF they write that capability into its generic master/slave firmware....

    the questionis when can we go down our local PC UK shop and buy 2 or more cards and i assume some form of router/hub to plug all this into and use PC to PC....

    and what price inlusive of UK VAT and P&P

    then we Might get to see mass x264 realtime Encoder patch to fast Encode over this great speed interconnect for instance.

  22. steogede

    To be fair

    >> This is the same Apple that forces custom USB cables for the iPod and introduces proprietary standards for video connection and so forth?

    The iPod dock connector is (depending on the device) capable of not just USB, but Firewire, audio input, audio output, composite video output and remote control (and possibly others that I am not aware of). So whilst it isn't 'one cable to rule them all', it is one connector to rule them all. That said, I would have much preferred a standard mini usb cable.

    BTW, it looks like this may be 'one cable for all self powered devices'. However it looks as though you will still need another cable for powering the device. No doubt Apple will be able to provide proprietary connectors and cables that combine data and power. Powered USB may be troublesome at times, but at least it is one less power supply to plugin and one less cable to trip you up. I have owned a few firewire devices, and none of them were bus powered.

  23. Mr Bear

    @Robert Hill

    I'd love a monitor that can deal with everything. However as me PC is right next to me monitor, having the USB ports on my monitor isn't really that much of a priority.

    However with the hundreds of computers I deal with at work, it would be great. However I don't deal with purchasing.

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