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Speculation: iPad 2 mystery port is Light Peak

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.

iPad 2 case with mystery port




Prototype Light Peak connector




By Electronista Staff
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  1. Wingsy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005

    -15

    Light Peak Connector Gets an F

    The light peak connector is rectangular just like USB. As such, this means you have a 90% chance of plugging it in the wrong way on your first attempt. At least that seems to be the odds I experience when plugging in USB. I seldom get it right on first guess, and even more seldom can I even clearly see the connector receptacle.

    So why oh why are they still using a square connector? What's wrong with round? You can't s**** up round. And round would work as well if not better than square. A hollow barrel would contain the optical path and a ringed barrel would carry the power. Too easy.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +2

    30 Pin Connector

    Apple doesn't really care about the impact its actions have on 3rd parties, particularly if they're not making any money from them. One of Apple's irritating strengths is the ability to just cut loose from the past. If Apple keep the 30-pin connector, it will be for their own reasons, not those of anybody else.

  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004

    +9

    @Wingsy

    The lightpeak connector does not use an optical connection, is uses copper wire.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Sep 1999

    -10

    Not likely

    Firewire was faster for synching than USB, and Apple removed it from iPods. And on iOS devices, the bottleneck is not USB bandwidth, but Apple's code.

  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Feb 2009

    +2

    wrong

    It's not light peak for the same reason as it wasn't a mini-display port earlier. It makes no sense to have all those connections at the bottom, but introduce an alternative version of the same thing 10 inches away at the top of the device. They aren't going to run a long wire through the interior just to put in an extra port that isn't needed.

  1. byRyan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    -6

    Peripherals

    "It would not make sense to dump the 30-pin adapter all-together yet, as there just too many peripherals made for it."

    yeah right - I think apple changes its own formats just to s**** with the peripheral companies Like how if you try using an older cable with an iphone - a message comes up telling you its not optimized. I have a boxload of 30 pin connectors and accessories dating back to the days of the earlier iPods that all don't work with my iPad.

    If anything, i always thought apple would slightly change specifications with each new release to INSURE people had to buy new accessories.

    Apple is one of those companies that will never do something just because thats the way they have done it in the past. while being frustrating to the consumer (especially if you don't have an unlimited supply of cash), it is nice to know that apples future will never be limited based on its past.

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