Report: Apple Could Bring Light Peak to Macs in 2011

Apple Inc. could be planning to bring Light Peak to the Mac platform as soon as the early part of 2011, according to a report from CNet. Light Peak is a next generation technology for connecting computer peripherals through an optical cable at speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second, twice the speed of USB 3, which Apple currently does not support.

Citing a single unnamed source “familiar with the progress of the technology,” CNet said Light Peak will appear earlier, rather than later, in that first half of 2011, which means Apple could be introducing it in the first quarter.

Intel has been developing the technology for years, and first demonstrated it in 2009 (on a Hackintosh, but that’s neither here, nor there). Apple reportedly approached Intel with the idea for developing Light Peak in 2007, though there are conflicting reports that make the technology a home grown Intel effort.

Light Peak Connector

Light Peak Connector
Source: Intel

Light Peak’s strengths include the enormous bandwidth it offers, and the fact that it can be implemented as a one-size-fits-all connection technology. In other words, a single port could theoretically handle a display, a printer, external storage, and even your iOS device.

At the very least, Apple could replace the multitude of ports currently found on Macs (Mini DisplayPort, USB 2, FireWire 800) with one or more Light Peak ports, allowing users to use them as needed.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has often decried the mess of cables that can clutter a desk, and his company has regularly tried use proprietary connection technologies for external displays, for instance, that eliminate some of these cables.

In addition, Apple has a strong track record of introducing new technologies and trends, technologies that the rest of the PC industry then gloms onto (to wit: USB, FireWire, dropping the Floppy Drive, dropping optical drives, etc.).

As such, it makes sense for Apple to be the first PC company to introduce Light Peak in a product, and it makes even more sense for Intel to let Apple do so. As an Intel-designed technology, the company could make billions from the rest of the world transitioning from USB, FireWire, and various display technologies to Light Peak.

Lastly, the other likely technology to serve faster bandwidth needs is USB 3, a technology Steve Jobs recently told a customer his company isn’t supporting. If you want it anyway, however, LaCie announced earlier on Thursday that it was releasing USB 3 drivers for the Mac that work with its line of USB 3 products.