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Fiber Optic Thunderbolt Cables Begin Mass Production, Available Up to 30m in Length

Intel has signed off on active fiber optic cables made by Sumitomo Electric Industries, the first of their kind to go into mass production.

The cables can be up to 30 meters (just under 100 feet) long, and provide full 10Gbps throughput with little performance degradation even when pinched by up to 180 degrees or tangled in knots. The cord is the same thickness as current standard Thunderbolt cables, but the connector size is slightly longer.

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As ZDNet points out, these currently unpriced cables could be used to put Thunderbolt data storage devices like the Drobo 5D in a soundproofed closet, away from the host Mac.

There have been a number of reports about the development of fiber optic Thunderbolt cables over the past year, with no official timeline laid out for their availability. Pricing is also unknown, but given the more advanced active fiber technology in the cables, it's possible they could be significantly more expensive than current cables.

One significant difference between the optical cable and the metal is that the new optical Thunderbolt cables do not carry on-board power. Any devices connected with them, like smaller portable hard drives, need external power supplies to work. They cannot be bus-powered.

For those who already own a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, Intel notes that the existing Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with both copper and fiber optic cables, ensuring cross-compatibility once the new cables arrive.

Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago
Now you can leave the end of your Thunderbolt cable in another room, so you don't have to be reminded that nothing is connected to it.
Rating: 60 Votes
24 months ago

30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.


I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems. Follow my train of thought.

Imagine a new Mac Pro (or even Mac Mini server), a smaller form factor akin to the ill-fated G4 Cube. Perhaps it has 2 PCIe slots, 2-3 internal SATA III bays, 1-2 Xeon (or Core i7) processors, RAM, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 connections (Ethernet, et al). Place the unit in a closet, and run a fiber optic Thunderbolt cable to a workstation for display(s) and HIDs. A graphics box and more devices can be attached via copper Thunderbolt cables for bus support.

You have a nice, small yet powerful system tucked away and out of sight.

...and it'll cost

$100 BILLION DOLLARS

(apologies, couldn't resist)
Rating: 22 Votes
24 months ago
Must cost $1 million
Rating: 20 Votes
24 months ago
Lightpeak finally realized.
Rating: 12 Votes
24 months ago

Pricing is also unknown, but given the more advanced active fiber technology in the cables, it's possible they could be significantly more expensive than current cables.


Great, because current Thunderbolt cables are so cheap :rolleyes:
Rating: 11 Votes
24 months ago
And Intel said: Let there be light!
Rating: 8 Votes
24 months ago
30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.
Rating: 7 Votes
24 months ago

30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.


If multiple machines/people need to use the same piece of equipment, they could put the equipment in a central control room and have them all connected to it from separate rooms. I've seen edit suites do this with decks and firewire. Firewire has a length limit though, so it had to be converted to cat5 and then go through a patch bay.
Rating: 7 Votes
24 months ago

30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.


Speak for yourself. I work on HDDs all day (let me know when you can get 24TB of SSDs for under a grand and we'll talk), and I'd love to put them away in a closet and run 100' of TB cable through my house.
Rating: 6 Votes
24 months ago

30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.


Please stop. "First World Problems" is starting to become a very overused, and annoying term. Of course it's a "First World Problem." Who in the third world would have a need for Thunderbolt, anyway?

Fact is that lot of people would want their terminal (i.e., iMac) to be in their office, and have their mass storage in another location.

And BTW, not seeing SSD for mass storage devices becoming the norm anytime soon. It still goes for over $1 a GB in most places.
Rating: 5 Votes

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