Thunderbolt: Back into the closet with forthcoming optical cables

Japanese cable maker receives certification for long-distance optical cables.

Good news for Mac content creators! Sumitomo Electric Industries recently announced it will offer optical cables up to 30 meters (98 feet) in length. This will mean noisy Thunderbolt storage can be located in soundproof closets, away from the host Macintosh computers.

The optical Thunderbolt cable is an active optical cable that enables long-distance transmission up to 30 meters to connect Thunderbolt devices together. The optical Thunderbolt cable is the same diameter as the conventional metal Thunderbolt cable (4.2 mm), and handles just as easily. Sumitomo Electric’s special optical fiber makes the cable robust and durable for everyday use. This optical fiber offers high bending performance even when pinched up to 180 degrees or tangled in knots.

There's no word on exactly when in 2013 the cables will be released, however, the first half of the year looks likely. The press release described cables in 10-, 20- and 30-meter lengths. Pricing is unavailable, but the smart cables will no doubt be pricey when compared with established protocols.

However, the forthcoming optical cable won't able to supply the 10W power that the copper cable does, so storage devices and PCIe card cages will need to supply their own power.