Report: Apple and Intel worked together on new transfer technology, “Light Peak”

Mon, Sep 28, 2009

News, Rumors

Last week, Intel showed off an impressive new transfer technology called “Light Peak” which has the ability to transfer huge swaths of data amazingly quickly.  The technology received so much hype at last weeks Intel Developer Forum that some are already speculating that the demoed standard may soon do away with current transfer protocols like USB and Firewire.

Now, come to find out, Engadget is reporting that Apple worked together with Intel to bring the technology to light, and not only that, but that Apple actually approached Intel with the idea for the standard way back in 2007.

According to documents we’ve seen and conversations we’ve had, Apple had reached out to Intel as early as 2007 with plans for an interoperable standard which could handle massive amounts of data and “replace the multitudinous connector types with a single connector (FireWire, USB, Display interface).” From what we’ve learned, the initial conversations (and apparent disagreements) were had directly between Steve Jobs and Paul Otellini. If you were wondering about that Apple-blue motherboard we saw at IDF or the aforementioned Hackintosh demo, this should explain everything. Cupertino apparently had specific demands for the standard, including the desire for a single port solution, and an insistence that optical was the only logical choice for such a connector type. Based on the documents we had a look at, the short-term plans seem to involve a one-size-fits-all solution (somehow allowing for multiple connections but avoiding “double dongles”) which would enable users to connect a variety of devices into a single Light Peak port, while slightly longer-term plans will mean Light Peak obviates the need for almost every type of connector you use today. Translation: Apple products in the near future could come equipped with only a Light Peak port (or ports) to handle your networking, display driving, and general connectivity.

Now that’s a scoop if we’ve ever seen one, and the fact that these high-level discussions were had between Apple and Intel’s respective CEO’s suggests that this technology is of utmost importance to Apple and that it has a prominent spot on Apple’s longterm product roadmap.  Indeed, Engadget goes on to note that Apple is planning to to introduce the new standard on its products by next fall, just in time for the back to school shopping season.  But of course, that’s just where the roadmap begins:

Following the initial launch, there are plans to roll out a low-power variation in 2011, which could lead to more widespread adoption in handhelds and cellphones. The plans from October 2007 show a roadmap that includes Light Peak being introduced to the iPhone / iPod platform to serve as a gateway for multimedia and networking outputs. While the timing doesn’t line up, a low-powered Light Peak sounds like the kind of technology that would be perfect for a device with a need for broad connectivity but limited real estate for ports… like a tablet.

As for the actual technology itself, transfer speeds using Light Peak are jaw dropping, with Intel claiming that “you could transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds”, and that the technology has the ability to “scale to 100Gb/s” within the next 10 years.

You can check out a demo of Light Peak in action below.  And not surprisingly, they’re testing it out on a Mac.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Richard Says:

    Apple helps to bring about FW and now LP. Great job!

  2. Jared Says:

    Nice demo. Can anyone say “MacBook Air?”

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