updated 04:20 am EST, Mon February 21, 2011
Plausible theory with new Macs, Light Peak inbound
Speculation surrounding the mystery port on early iPad 2 case designs has been circulating the blogosphere since the first cases based on leaked iPad 2 design schematics started appearing on the net. One interesting theory from the team at Macrumors is that the port could in fact be for the forthcoming Light Peak high-speed connectivity technology, co-developed by Intel and Apple. Macrumors bases its hunch on the buzz surrounding the launch of Light Peak on upcoming Apple Macs, which are expected to make an appearance as soon as this week. Further, Light Peak prototypes have been using a hybrid USB 3.0 connector that could appear similar to a standard USB port.
The speculation is plausible for several reasons. When Intel first demonstrated Light Peak in September 2009, before the iPad was launched, it specifically cited faster syncing with iPods as a candidate for fast data syncs. When the iPad first launched, some users complained about relatively slow syncing of content, although syncing has improved with each new iteration of iTunes and iPad firmware.
It has been known for some time that Apple will be the first company to launch Light Peak technology because of its high profile, and because of its special relationship with Intel, which has seen it obtain Intel componentary months before other vendors. Apple is also said to have contributed to the development of Light Peak with Intel. It would also be a nice win for Intel to see some of its technology take center stage on one of Apple’s halo products after seeing ARM take much of the spotlight away from Intel with its chip designs.
Rumors also have pegged new Macbook Pros to arrive within the next week. It is quite possible that the new Macbook Pros could feature a new Light Peak port as it has also been speculated that the line will not only get and internal refresh with Intel’s Sandy Bridge componentry, but may also sport a slightly revised look – could the re-design have been necessitated by the addition of a new port, or provided an opportunity for a new look?
There would be little point in launching new Macs and Macbook Pros with Light Peak if there was no peripheral to showcase the up to 10Gbps transfer speeds that it is theoretically capable of achieving, memory bandwidth limitations of the flash memory in an iPad notwithstanding. Launching a new line of Macs with Light Peak alongside a new iPad also equipped with Light Peak would make a lot of sense from a number of standpoints. Why wait for a third-party to ship a Light Peak peripheral?
Further, it would be wise for Apple to incorporate a Light Peak port along with its standard 30-pin adapter. There is a huge third-party accessory industry that supports Apple’s ubiquitous 30-pin standard. It would not make sense to dump the 30-pin adapter all-together yet, as there just too many peripherals made for it. And of course, all current Macs don’t have Light Peak ports making it necessary to preserve the 30-pin "legacy" connectivity. On the other hand, new Macs that do boast Light Peak ports will need to be able to connect them to something.
With the arrival of sealed packages at several Apple resellers yesterday, more will soon be known about Apple’s plans going forward.