updated 09:20 pm EST, Sat January 8, 2011
Intel says Light Peak is already available
Intel in an interview late Friday revealed that Light Peak was finished and ready to be used. Architecture Group head David Perlmutter confirmed rumors that the company would use copper early on instead of true fiber optics and thus get the 10Gbps speeds faster than first thought. He wouldn't tell IDG's interviewer which companies were the first supporters and when complete products were shipped, but was optimistic for the uptake.
"The copper came out very good, surprisingly better than what we thought," Perlmutter said.
Fiber optics were considered a problem as they were relatively expensive to use. They should better reach the speeds in more conditions, especially over longer distances than in a typical computer. Intel will ultimately need fiber to implement future iterations of Light Peak that could top out at 100Gbps.
Light Peak was originally conceived both as a direct peripheral format of its own and as backend pipe that could handle very large amounts of traffic from many different peripheral formats, such as FireWire, USB 3.0 and even Ethernet. Intel has acknowledged that it has had input from Apple in development, although they aren't necessarily the chief architects.
The mention of copper backed up, though didn't necessarily confirm, rumors that Apple and Sony had been pushing Intel to implement Light Peak sooner than its 2012 goal. Their exact reasons and products have never been unearthed, but it would most likely be to help dramatically speed up syncing with mobile devices like the iPad as well as to help consolidate the number of ports needed on ultraportable computers. A single light Peak port could theoretically attach a breakout box with many different port standards onboard and allow a slimming down of the system as a whole.