Chip maker Intel will hold a media event tomorrow to share details about an upcoming interface technology called Light Peak. The official invitation only makes mention of a "new technology that is about to appear on the market," CNET reports, but it's pretty clear this is about Light Peak.
Intel will also host a series of technology and product demonstrations the same day at their Santa Clara, California campus. The presser nicely coincides with a MacBook refresh purportedly taking place tomorrow as well.
In an earlier report, CNET uncloaked Apple and Sony as early adopters of Light Peak. The Apple connection makes perfect sense. Intel gave California-based Apple preferential treatment on occasions more than one. For example, the MacBook Air debuted with a then unreleased processor model that would months later become available to other computer vendors.
Light Peak is meant as a faster replacement for a plethora of incompatible connection technologies like SATA, eSATA, USB, FireWire, PCI Express and others. Because it's based on optical transfer of bits, Light Peak isn't prone to electromagnetic interferences and works over great distances, allowing for computer and peripheral setups that aren't possible with today's connection technologies. The biggest benefit that comes with Light Peak is a tremendous boost in data transfer speeds.
Theoretically, a Light Peak connection is capable of transferring an entire Blu-ray movie in under ten seconds. That's because Light Peak starts out at 10 gigabits per second in both directions simultaneously and scales all the way up to an unheard of 100Gbps. This compares favorably to today's connection technologies such as ten times slower FireWire 800 (800Mbps), twenty times slower FireWire 400 (400Mbps) and two times slower USB 3 (5Gbps).
If Intel's proprietary technology takes off and grows ubiquitous, it will lead to cable simplification because a Light Peak connection (shown below) will eventually replace a myriad of cables that connect our displays, printers, external storage, scanners, computers and other gadgets. Initially, Light Peak will be copper-based because Intel needs time to perfect its optical counterpart for mass market adoption. This won't affect data transfer speeds, Intel promised.
Intel, which recently announced a new state-of-the-art Arizona plant to pursue next-gen processors manufactured using a 14 nanometer process, first demoed Light Peak in 2009 on a machine running Mac OS X, another indication of a possible Light Peak-enabled MacBooks tomorrow. The company previously said it expected first Light Peak-enabled products in the first half of 2011. Earlier today, Fscklog leaked a packshot allegedly belonging to the upcoming MacBooks, an indication that Apple cut a relaxed licensing deal with Intel allowing it to market Light Peak under its own Thunderbolt moniker. Another high-quality shot (below) from the MacRumors forums shows a Thunderbolt port on a rumored new MacBook.
Apple's implementation is said to come with other perk, including a smaller, low-powered Thunderbolt variant for mobile devices like iPhones and an interesting Mag Safe integration enabling a Light Peak port to charge your device while transferring data. For more information, check out Intel's Light Peak page and the below clip that has Jason Ziller, Intel's marketing director for Light Peak, explain the benefits of Light Peak technology in layman's terms.