Photos suggests Light Peak will debut in new MacBook Pros

Apple has a long history of trailblazing in the I/O world, and it looks set to uphold that tradition by adopting Intel’s Light Peak interconnect in its next MacBook Pro refresh. Leaked images posted by AppleInsider show plausible evidence that Light Peak will be present in the 13.3″, Sandy Bridge-powered MacBook Pro under the “Thunderbolt” brand name—with a logo to match.

AppleInsider’s image show not just the logo (a white bolt of lightning drawn over a shiny blue orb with a metallic trim), but also two spec sheets that both tout, among other features, a Thunderbolt port supporting “high-speed I/O and Mini DisplayPort devices.” An alleged picture of the new MacBook Pro’s connectors suggests the Thunderbolt port will effectively replace the DisplayPort, er, port present on current systems. From the outside, only the logo next to the port appears to have changed.

Now, this probably isn’t an optical port. As CNet News reported last year, Intel has made it clear that initial implementations of Light Peak will use copper wires. The technology should nevertheless enable transfer speeds as high as 10 Gbps, over twice as fast as USB 3.0. In yesterday’s story, AppleInsider chimes in that Apple “could include a unique implementation of Light Peak with its own branding that would be unique to Apple products.”

Update: It looks like the rumors were true. Apple updated its online store this morning with the new MacBook Pros.

Comments closed
    • vale75
    • 9 years ago

    I think there is some official news..
    [url<]http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/[/url<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      wow, the 13″ took a dive, only ships with GMA HD 3000 graphics.

      The 15″ has two very different graphics options, though the 6750 seems like it’d be sufficient for games and the like.

        • FuturePastNow
        • 9 years ago

        The 13″ gets a [i<]much[/i<] faster processor in exchange. The real problem with the HD 3000 isn't going to be with the hardware, either. It's a competent GPU roughly equivalent to the Radeon 5450. On Windows. I don't trust Apple/Intel to write an acceptable OS X driver for it, though. The GMA HD graphics on the previous Macbook Pros performs terribly and doesn't support all of the graphical features of the OS, not because it can't, but because Apple is lazy.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Apple is alot of things, but lazy isn’t one of them. By all accounts from various Mac rumor sites, Intel failed to deliver OpenCL support for Clarkdale.

          A good point about the faster CPU.

    • bcronce
    • 9 years ago

    Anyone else wonder if USB3.0 is already dead? If LightPeak makes it to Macs in ~6months, then may be 1 year for PC addin cards and another 1-2 years for it to be in the chipsets?

    Watch, PCIe 3.0 is next. By the time it comes out, Light Peak might be ready to replace it or shortly after.

      • LaChupacabra
      • 9 years ago

      This is probably more about Apple releasing an entire product line of proprietary peripherals than the death of USB 3.0.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      USB 3.0 is like Blu Ray. Yes, some people really want it, but it’s the dying breath of a less than convenient format we just don’t really need to stick with.

      The trouble with LightPeak is that it may further encourage standard USB connectors in place of everything, which will drive me mad. Goodbye USB, hello USB…forever?!? That’s more like a step back! I don’t want to be fiddling with 10 of those infernal things, trying to figure out which way they plug in, instead of just a few.

      PCIe 3.0 won’t be replaced because that level of bandwidth will be primarily for HPC applications using multi-GPU cards in multi-socket servers, which will be dependent on integrated PCIe controllers. The first platform to have 3.0 will be Sandy Bridge EN, still almost a year away.

      Even if Intel manages to dump all the peripherals, they can’t be realistically be moving towards LightPeak as their high speed system bus for quite some time.

        • bcronce
        • 9 years ago

        Intel stated that Light Peak WILL replace PCIe in the future. Say good-bye to plugging cards into slots and hello to plugging fiber into your cards.

        Intel also stated 22nm is required to make 10gb fiber cheap. Now that 22nm is just coming out, we’ll start to see the first gen 10gb fiber Light peak soon. I’m assuming Intel’s next 16nm chips will bring 40gb or 100gb to the home user ~3-5 years after 10gb LightPeak becomes standard..

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          Yes, “the future,” a completely ambiguous timeframe that means “when servers need it.” The likelihood of graphics cards in desktops suddenly going this direction and becoming faster is slim to none.

            • bcronce
            • 9 years ago

            Once the parts become cheap, it will be more expensive to use PCIe than to just include more LP ports.

            I’m sure PCIe will linger around for a few generations, but signalling over copper is much harder at high speeds than a cheap LED and some plastic fiber.

            I’m guessing within 8 years, PCIe will be largely phased out.

            Imagine a motherboard that is nothing more than a CPU, memory, few power plugs, and a cluster of fiber ports. Motherboard manufacturers would love this. Virtually no traces to worry about, cheap motherboard designs, just having to worry about traces from the CPU to the ram and the chipset.

            Heck, Intel may just do a SoC design and a generic chip to link LP ports to the CPU. Screw chipsets. An enthusiast grade motherboard would be barely larger than a micro ATX motherboard.

            • Rectal Prolapse
            • 9 years ago

            I like your non-Luddite way of thinking. 🙂

      • Duck
      • 9 years ago

      Keep seeing people say stuff like this. Light Peak won’t replace PCIe EVER because LP is a transport protocol. LP can carry inside it for example… PCIe x4, USB2, HDMI. All over a single optical connection. That was my understanding of it anyway.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        It looks like it just routes everything right into the PCIe controller at the moment, which is nice, as it very nearly eliminates the need for a southbridge, and keeps you from accidentally plugging something into a slower controller when you have more than one choice, but that means it’s pretty much PCIe cables. It absolutely isn’t an entire new system bus capable of throwing everything else out in one fell swoop.

        If it becomes independent in fiber optic form, then I could see us one day ending up with “Thunderbolt 2.0” cards instead of “PCIe 4.0” cards, which I think is what other people are getting at.

        The issue is that we’re not going to get anything like “PCIe 4.0” cards for desktops because we may not even get PCIe 3.0 cards. That would have to be some sort of quad-GPU Radeon 7800/GTX 680 class monstrosity to even come close, and that’s going to stay in the HPC realm for years and years. It’s so far down the road for PCs that desktops as we know them will be gone.

        • bcronce
        • 9 years ago

        Well, Intel stated that PCIe will no longer connect to your cards once LP takes over. So, you may have PCIe protocol over LP, but you will no longer directly connect to PCIe.

        As for bandwidth, LP is teamable. LP is 1.22GB/sec per connection and PCIe3.0 is 1GB/sec per connection. PCIe can more conveniently pack 16lanes together, but once 40/100gb LP comes out, we’re talking about 4.88GB/12.2GB/sec. One LP connection will have almost the same bandwidth as 16 PCIe connections.

        Plug two LP fibers into a videocard and away you go. 24.4GB/sec

        Intel has stated LP will replace ALL connections for local devices. SATA/USB/HDMI/PCIe are all to be replaced and anything like them.

    • kyboshed
    • 9 years ago

    Still stuck with USB2.0? Meh. Does this mean they’re not using Sandy Bridge? (I’ve not been keeping up but I thought SB was going to support USB3.0 without needing ancillary chips)

    Also, will there be an adapter which allows the simultaneous use of both DisplayPort and Light Peak devices over this new Thunderbolt port or is it daisy chainable? I’d hate to have to choose between an external display and a high speed drive…

    At least it looks like there are some quad core options now.

    I’ll reserve judgement until the specs are officially announced, but this seems to be a bit underwhelming.

      • PixelArmy
      • 9 years ago

      Sandy Bridge supports SATA3 (6 Gbps) natively, not USB 3.0. I think they’re using SB, due to the Intel HD 3000 Graphics.

      LightPeak is daisy chainable. Though I’m not sure how useful sharing bandwidth with, oh say, DisplayPort (as Apple seems to imply), would be ([url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_device_bandwidths#Digital_video_interconnects<]video bandwidth[/url<]), though I guess if you're not doing that, it's pretty impressive. *EDIT* My bad, looks like it's dual channel, so double that bandwidth. Where Intel plans to take LightPeak (100 Gbps) is obviously more useful moving toward the "one connector feeds everything" goal. IMO, this ThunderBolt implementation doesn't feel like it moves toward that, as they haven't reduced the number of connectors (right now it just looks like they replaced DisplayPort). This is just Apple getting the "FIRST!" post. And Intel gets to test things out and let Apple market for them. Win-win from their perspectives. *EDIT* URL formatting.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    [i<]Apple "could include a unique implementation of Light Peak with its own branding that would be unique to Apple products"[/i<] - oh, great, another one-off, proprietary 'standard'. I was afraid we'd run out of those...

      • kyboshed
      • 9 years ago

      Intel actually have a page about it now so it looks like it might be the official brand name for Light Peak (though I like Light Peak better).

      [url<]http://www.intel.com/technology/io/thunderbolt/index.htm[/url<]

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    “Apple has a long history of trailblazing in the I/O world…”

    That quote is for you Hisdivineshadow.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      Translates in normal person speak to:

      “Apple has a long history of gimmicky “firsts” to drive up prices.”

      Sorry, but what are you going to do with this? If it were fiber optic, it might reduce power use, but in this form, it’s just yet another bus system piled on top of the existing ones. Intel’s idea for bringing it to desktops is PCIe cards, for crying out loud. This changes nothing, and you can bet it still won’t matter by next year’s refresh.

    • adam1378
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/02/24/leaked_photo_shows_15_macbook_pro_with_i7_cpu_and_amd_graphics.html[/url<] And it has graphics switching with intel integrated and AMD 6490m. So they ditched Nvidia.

      • Althernai
      • 9 years ago

      The 6490M is a 160 stream processor part. Is that even better that what they had in the previous generation? A card from the 6600M series would make a lot more sense.

        • blastdoor
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not clear that Appleinsider has specs for all available configurations. There may be higher-end BTO options.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        The GT330M in my current gen Core i5 15″ is less than impressive to be honest. I was expecting more, since its ‘top of the line’ and all. Its adequate and provides a nice boost in Pixelmator, Flash video processing, etc. *shrug*

          • adam1378
          • 9 years ago

          Are they all going to be AMD now or a mix of Nvidia too…I don’t know if that would make sense.

            • FuturePastNow
            • 9 years ago

            Apple has a history of switching from one GPU maker to the other every couple of years. They’re not showing favoritism, I think they’re just playing AMD and Nvidia off each other on pricing, and AMD gave them the best deal this time around.

          • FuturePastNow
          • 9 years ago

          I doubt you’ll see much improvement with the new 6750M, it’s only a 480 shader part. Should run nice and cool, though.

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