Intel Says Fiber Optic Thunderbolt Cables Coming Later This Year
One of the promises of Intel's Thunderbolt technology was the possibility for fiber optic cables, offering greater cable lengths and setting the stage for faster connectivity once the standard matures. But Thunderbolt launched using only traditional copper wire cables, and there has been some dispute about just how soon fiber optic cables will become available.
IDG News now reports that Intel as issued a statement indicating that it will be launching fiber optic Thunderbolt cables "later this year".
Intel has said copper cables are adequate for data transfers over short distances of up to six meters. Optical cables will be good for data transfers over longer distances of tens of meters.
The upside to optical is that it allows for longer cable runs, and as the technology develops, more bandwidth, [Intel spokesman Dave] Salvator said in email.
The downside to fiber optic cables, however, is that devices connected using the longer fiber optic cables will require separate power cables, as running power over the cables at those distances is not currently practical. Fiber optic cables are also likely to be significantly more expensive than their copper counterparts, although Intel has not offered any guidance on pricing.
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.
Just last week, Intel announced that it was working on moving Thunderbolt to the PCI Express 3.0 standard, a move that could see the company double the effective bandwidth for data transfers. The company has not, however, provided a projected timeframe for a public launch of the enhanced Thunderbolt speeds.