Instead of following the PC and equipping their computers with USB 3.0 ports, Apple has equipped their Mac computers with Intel’s Thunderbolt standard instead. While there is a possibility that future Macs may adopt USB 3.0, for now it looks like if you’re a Mac user looking for a speedy transfer of data, Thunderbolt is your only option, and if you thought that Thunderbolt’s reported 10Gbps was fast, it looks like come next year you could be experiencing speeds ten times faster.
Thunderbolt was designed by Intel, and was initially known as “Light Peak”. However when it was designed, it was designed for optical cables in mind, as opposed to the copper ones found in current Thunderbolt cables. Through the use of optical cables, Thunderbolt transfer speeds have been recorded at 100Gbps, although it was no specified as to whether it was overall performance or per channel, but given Thunderbolt’s current 40Gbps overall performance, 100Gbps is definitely an increase.
The good news is that according to Intel’s spokesperson, Dave Salvator, optical cables should be arriving on the market next year, which not only will be longer but will also be compatible with current Mac computers that already have the Thunderbolt ports. However it is unknown at this point if current Macs will be able to fully utilize the high speeds, as the original design of Thunderbolt called for an all-optical interconnect system, which included internal components. We’ll also have to wonder, given how expensive current Thunderbolt peripherals cost, will optical cables cost a lot more too?