updated 07:00 pm EDT, Sat September 26, 2009
Intel Light Peak made just for Apple
Intel's recently unveiled 10-gigabit Light Peak connection standard was actually created at Apple's specific request, according to a major leak. While pitched at IDF as an Intel-made design, the fiber optic connection is now said to have been the direct result of talks between Apple founder Steve Jobs and Intel chief Paul Otellini. Engadget claims that Apple wants a single, high-speed connection standard that would not only take the place of FireWire or USB but also the video and Ethernet signals.
In the near term, Light Peak would be used as a simplified connector that might stand alongside existing ports, but later on it has the potential to take on most if not all the expansion for a given device. The most definite plans show a fall 2010 Mac refresh that would incorporate Light Peak -- in sync with Intel's claims of making it a standard next year -- but plans have also been in place to use it for iPhones and iPods. Its ability to replace multiple ports could make it particularly useful for a touchscreen tablet where space is at a premium, though so far this is just speculation.
Light Peak isn't expected to provide much immediate speed benefit as even most solid-state drives don't consume enough bandwidth to demand more than Serial ATA; handhelds like the iPhone use even slower storage. However, it should permit a smaller footprint on a circuit board, make for smaller connectors, and longer, more break-resistant external cabling.
The development if borne out would reinforce Apple's special relationship with Intel, which has already let it get early access to processors or to get special-order models. It may also see Apple dictate the popularity of an Intel-made standard much as the iMac is credited for spurring the development of USB devices.