A new interconnect technology called Light Peak is being developed by Apple as a potential replacement for FireWire, USB and traditional monitor cables. Engadget reports that Apple brought the technology to Intel and asked them to create it.
According to documents we've seen and conversations we've had, Apple had reached out to Intel as early as 2007 with plans for an interoperable standard which could handle massive amounts of data and "replace the multitudinous connector types with a single connector (FireWire, USB, Display interface)."
Documents reviewed by Engadget indicate that Light Peak would enable users to connect a variety of devices into a single Light Peak port. Longer-term, Light Peak has the potential to replace almost all the ports that are on your current computer, including networking, display driving, and general connectivity.
Light Peak is sexy because it's based on fiber optic technology that is capable of transferring data at 10Gbps -- dramatically faster than the 400-800Mbps achieved by FireWire and 480Mbps USB. At 10Gbps you could transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. According to Intel, Light Peak can scale to 100Gbps over the next decade and has a number of other benefits.
Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible. Light Peak also has the ability to run multiple protocols simultaneously over a single cable, enabling the technology to connect devices such as peripherals, workstations, displays, disk drives, docking stations, and more.
Light Peak is even faster than the recently ratified SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) which can transfer data at 4.8Gbps.
Engadget thinks that Light Peak could land in Apple systems as soon as Fall 2010 in a line of Macs destined for back-to-school shoppers. Following the initial launch, a low-power version of Light Peak is planned for 2011, which could find its way into tablets and mobile phones.
Update: Check out this video of the Light Peak demonstration from the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) -- running on a hackintosh, no less.