Intel Launches Light Peak Tech as ''Thunderbolt''

While we may have USB 3.0 and eSATA, but the real high-speed next generation connector could be Intel Light Peak – or should we say, Thunderbolt.

Today Intel officially announced that its Light Peak technology would be branded as Thunderbolt on all platforms (not just Apple making up fancy names). We didn't feel that there was anything wrong with Light Peak; we had grown quite fond of using that name. But for the casual consumer, Thunderbolt likely sounds more like something cool out of a comic book.

Thunderbolt features two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to 10Gbps each, and delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters.

Intel boasts that the speed offered by Thunderbolt is enough to transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds or backup 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just over 10 minutes.

Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays, which is its implementation on the Apple MacBook Pros with the shared Thunderbolt/DisplayPort.

Other features include:

    * Daisy-chained devices

    * Electrical or optical cables

    * Low latency with highly accurate time synchronization

    * Uses native protocol software drivers

    * Power over cable for bus-powered devices

Check out Intel's page on Thunderbolt here.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • bto
    Now we'll start seeing external GTX 570's sitting on a desk next to your laptop port replicator wewt! only take your video card when you need it, imagine a 14" laptop that drops into a port replicator with a nice upper range pci-e vid card next to it. connected to your 42" LCD on your desk. Kewl, wonder what kind of power ratings it can support. (the 570 would obviously have external psu) :)
  • jprahman
    Wait, so if Light Peak (or Thunder Bolt) supports PCIe, and can basically function as a PCIe cable, then wouldn't that allow to you do stuff like have external graphics cards. You could even break a PC into multiple parts and have each part connected by this interconnect. Probably not practical or likely to happen, but it's an interesting idea.
  • schmich
    I'm disappointed at the name change. Light Peak was a classy name. There's already an HTC phone being released called the Thunderbolt, keep LPK!
  • schmich
    Also I hope that Thunderbolt isn't like USB and can only be inserted one way. Just imagine the amount of times throughout the World the USB plug has been turned around due to being in the wrong direction.
  • mianmian
    Note that the bandwidth of thunderbolt is only 10GB/s (equals 4x pcie)
    It is not enought for memory, graphic card(need 8x, i think).
    I hope it can uniformed the exterenal I/O port (usb, display, eSATA, eithernet...). So we do not need so many type of interface. CopperPeak (well thunderbolt) all the way.
  • jprahman
    Well for graphics cards or high bandwidth applications you could use dual cables.
  • rhino13
    Will it stick?
    Firewire was great tech when it came out too, but no way I'm paying the extra to get firewire enabled devices. It's USB3.0 or eSATA for me.

    So... what's avalible for Thunderbolt?
  • loomis86
    I really hope this takes off. I really hope they quickly upgrade thunderbolt and phase out the copper version of lightpeak. This could be HUGE. If they can fully incorporate fiber optics onto the motherboard, guess what? Game changer for motherboard design! Nothing needs to be in close proximity for speed. In fact, your components don't really even need to be in the same case! How does RAM mounted on SD cards sound? Or a hundred gig SD card utilized as your hard drive?
  • nullifi
    schmichAlso I hope that Thunderbolt isn't like USB and can only be inserted one way. Just imagine the amount of times throughout the World the USB plug has been turned around due to being in the wrong direction.I don't know about your USB connections, but mine only go in one way. I have, however, plugged USB into an ethernet port quite a few times.
  • JohnnyLucky
    Probably should have kept the Light Peak name. It was already branded.

    Thunderbolt is the nickname of a United States Air Force jet fighter.