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Optical Thunderbolt IO Arriving This Year


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Oct 9, 2007
34,496 (9.18/day)
Hyderabad, India
Intel's 10 Gbps Thunderbolt IO was originally pitched to be a photonic (fiber-optic) data interconnect, when it was codenamed "Lightpeak". The company managed to achieve acceptable, and comparable bandwidths over copper wire, and hence the electronic variant of the interconnect was introduced to the market in February, 2011. The copper-wire version of Thunderbolt can sustain 10 Gbps bandwidths only up to a distance of 6 meters, it was still favoured probably because electronic physical-layer PHYs are cheaper to produce than photonic ones, and that electronic cables can also transmit power (10W of it).

The fiber optic version of Thunderbolt is still taking shape, and Intel believes optical cables for Thunderbolt could be out in 2012. The fiber optic cable loses the ability to transmit power, but can sustain high bandwidths over greater distances, "tens of meters," enabling longer cables. Intel did not give out a tentative date for the launch of optical Thunderbolt, but it could be linked to several other developments, such as the propagation of PCI-Express 3.0, which provides a generous 2000 MB/s per lane of system bandwidth.

Sources: Engadget, Macworld
Feb 3, 2005
431 (0.09/day)
I'm looking forward to a low-cost connector with ample bandwidth for everything. This connector will be with us for many years.

Its a shame about not being able to transmit power through optics.
Jan 14, 2009
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Jan 25, 2011
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Its a shame about not being able to transmit power through optics.
It is possible to add two extra copper lines (Vdd and GND) for power. The powersupply noise will not affect the optical signalling, but it'll increase cost of the cable and the ohmic drop in supply voltage will be high for a long cable.
May 21, 2008
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I'm up for a new High speed IO
Sep 15, 2011
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