Apple set to launch Light Peak next week?

Something called Thunderbolt is coming

APPLE IS EXPECTED to unveil its next generation iPad as well as several new MacBook SKUs next week at an event the company is hosting on the 2nd of March. However, for those more interested in technology than the actual devices there’s something far more interesting being announced, namely something Apple calls Thunderbolt and what is thought to be Intel’s Light Peak.

This is an unusually big leak for Apple, especially as it’s coming from multiple sources at once. It’s not unusual that details of upcoming Apple products leak ahead of the launch, but it’s not often full specifications of one of it notebook models leak ahead of launch and even less so a brand new technology. It has to be said that it’s not entirely clear as to what we’re looking at here, apart from it being a high-speed I/O called Thunderbolt.

What makes this all very peculiar is the type of connector that Apple has chosen to use, as the Thunderbolt port shares the mini DisplayPort connector. This doesn’t entirely make sense as the DisplayPort interface itself would use between 10 and 21Gbps worth of bandwidth and as Light Peak over copper is expected to use some 5Gbps, one has to start to wonder how well such a small connector can handle that much bandwidth.

On top of that, we can’t quite figure out why you’d want to share the only display output connector with a high-speed I/O port, as unless Apple has come up with some kind of splitter and/or dock that connects to the port and allows simultaneous usage of both display output and the Thunderbolt I/O, it’s hard to see the benefits of the two using the same connector. We’re sure everything will be revealed in due time, but we can’t just see Apple’s logic as of right now. Of course this seems to implicate that Apple has no inclination in supporting the USB 3.0 standard which is a real bummer as well, but maybe foreshadowed by Intel’s lagging USB3.0 support.

If you’re interested in the rest of the specs of at least the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, then the base spec of at least one model is a 2.3GHz Core i5 dual core CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, a 320GB hard drive (no mention of boot SSD), Intel HD 3000 graphics, 1280×800 screen resolution, slot loading SuperDrive, SDXC card slot (does this mean exFAT support on Mac?), two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port (still no faster FireWire options as rumoured), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Hopefully more details will come to light over the next few days, but if not, we’ll just have to wait for the official word from Apple to find out what’s going on.S|A


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