Current Thunderbolt Macs will support fiber optic cables

27 September, 2011 - Paul Dixon
Thunderbolt Cable

While Thunderbolt compatible devices are still scarce, it appears more companies are looking to add the technology to their products – Acer, Asustek, Belkin, BlackMagic Design and LaCie to name a few. Now it’s been revealed that even faster fibre optic based cables, set to arrive next year, will work with existing Thunderbolt equipped Macs.

Speaking to MacWorld, Intel spokesman Dave Salvator stated:

“Circuitry will ensure compatibility of optical cables with existing Thunderbolt ports, Salvator said. Copper cables provide adequate data transfer for use over short distances of up to six meters (about 20 feet), but optical cables will be good for data transfers over longer distances of tens of meters”

Release dates and prices for the new cables are yet be revealed, but it’s safe to assume that they will cost more than the current copper based cables available from Apple at £39.00 ($$49.00), which, let’s face it, aren’t cheap. According to vice president & general manager of the Intel Architecture Group Dadi Perlmutter, it could take some time before optical technology is widely adopted by consumers:

“The adoption of optical cables depends on how much speed people need “versus how much they would be willing to pay,” Perlmutter said. He also said that it could be years before optical technology finds mass adoption, primarily due to cost.”

Oh, and apparently, Intel are already working on even faster technology based on silicon photonics – though don’t expect to see that come to market before 2015.

While I’m glad to hear that the new cables will work with my 2011 iMac, I’m not sure I will have any real need for the improved performance. I’m not in any rush to invest in any Thunderbolt devices at the moment – what about you? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

[Via 9to5Mac]

About the author

Paul Dixon is the owner of Macsessed. He lives in Lancashire in the UK where he works as a web designer. You can find him on and Twitter.