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Apple Thunderbolt Macs have chips for optical links

Circuitry, yes - but what about optical ports?

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Got a new Mac with a Thunderbolt port? Then it is compatible with upcoming optical cables, Intel has revealed.

According to a spokesman from the chip giant, which devised Thunderbolt, a technology originally codenamed 'Light Peak', the circuitry in the latest Macs will support optical connections, Macworld reports.

But, we wonder, will the ports themselves? Handling the conversion of light pulses into electrical signals is one thing - actually including optical transmitters and pick-ups is another.

Next time we get one in the office we'll have a look. So far, we've seen nothing in teardown pictures and the like, or the comments from our reviewers who've peered at the ports, to indicate that current Macs do indeed have optical interconnects, even if they contain optical-compatible controller chips.

At Intel Developer Forum earlier this month, the chip giant said Asus and Acer will add Thunderbolt ports to some new PCs at some point next year.

Not exactly an overwhelming industry endorsement, that, but then USB 3.0 is only now going mass-market. SuperSpeed USB can hit 5Gb/s, though current USB external hard drives and the like transfer data at much lower speeds - though still faster than USB 2.0.

Thunderbolt promises a peak performance of 10Gb/s, though again the speed attainable will depend on what storage tech the connected peripheral contains. ®

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