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Apple patent could show plans for Light Peak adoption

updated 12:20 pm EST, Tue November 30, 2010

Company rumored as early Light Peak adopter

A newly-published patent application may suggest some of Apple's plans for Intel's Light Peak technology. Originally submitted in July, the document is titled Power Adapters For Powering And/Or Charging Peripheral Devices. "More particularly," Apple notes, "the present invention relates to improved techniques for powering and/or charging peripheral devices through a data transmission line."

Adapters using Apple's concept would work "without requiring any additional cables or connectors," and power a peripheral "without requiring a host, peripheral or hub to remain powered on." More significantly, the patent mentions that devices would be able to "operate on buses that do not supply power." The wording is believed to refer to an optical connection type such as Light Peak.

Light Peak is a fiber optic format capable of operating at up to 10Gbps, twice as fast as even USB 3.0. Although it could eventually substitute for standards like USB, it may initially used as a high-speed general I/O system, with the special benefit of improving space use in notebooks. While Intel has said that Light Peak may not arrive in computers and other devices until 2012, recent rumors have hinted that Apple could premiere the technology early, possibly as soon as the first half of 2011.

by MacNN Staff



  1. danangdoc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Be careful Apple, what you wish for...

    This may be the though process that will cause a divergence from Apple products in 2012. In an age of technology that is increasingly wireless, why oh why would anyone design an I/O into their products that requires a hard connection? This is the antithesis of progress, a return to the Apple II computer. What could they be thinking? I know this point, is just about "powering on and charging" but what we need is better wireless I/O. Apples wifi antennas for example are the worst in the industry. When we should be able to synch our iPhones wirelessly, we remain with 2002 technology. Major fail if heading in this direction and not applying resources for those things that will set a company apart.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Of course

    It seems so obvious. "Non-powered bus" means LightSpeed, and then this means everything from iPods to disk drives will be switching to light peak!

    Even if all this really means is for non-powered buses and such, they'll just add some extra wiring to the connector to supply the power. Big deal. Isn't this what they did when they worked up ADC way back when?

    Or "Nothing users love more then when Apple takes a standard connector and turns it into a non-standard connector so it'll work for them!".

    Take the non-standard USB Ports and requirements needed for the external DVD rom player for the MBA and such.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Be careful Apple, what you wish for...

    Things to keep in mind.

    1) Apple is all about the wireless. They love the concept of decluttering the standard desktop (ignore the clutter they force you to make for all those external drives and other peripherals they won't let you add to the computer).

    For their computers, they want as few wires as possible (thus the cinema display cable from their latest monitors).

    2) While 'wireless' is great for Mac users (since Apple builds all the hardware and includes all the support in regardless of whether it's needed or used by the user), PC vendors make all these crappy computers which cut costs and price by not including certain features they feel the market for that particular device doesn't exist. For example, many low-end laptops and most desktops don't include bluetooth, for most people have no need for it. Certainly many desktops won't include wi-fi by default, as most desktops are going to be hard-wired (you can add your own card or custom build the computer, but that's not the point). Most PCs also don't include Firewire, since, well, most PC users never jumped onto the firewire bandwagon and went USB for their peripherals.

    3) When it comes to their devices, Apple is more concerned about making a single device that can work on all platforms they support, rather than add extra cost and size by adding support for a specific hardware or software platform.

    Thus, years ago, Apple dropped Firewire syncing support from their iPods, and then dumped Firewire charging. Why? Because Macs had USB, it was good enough (not as good as firewire, but who cares, Mac users are a small market anyway), and all PCs have USB. So standardizing on USB works for everyone.

    4) This all leads to "Apple isn't working too hard on wifi syncing of iPhones/iPods because they'd still have to support USB/cable. Therefore, why bother spending the time?"

    Oh, and lest we forget the other problems with wi-fi syncing:
    - Security
    - Software
    - Firewalls
    - Networks

    There's just a large collection of c*** they need to wade through just to get it to work. And the hardest part will be on Windows, where they have to work within the OS, rather than be able to modify the OS to work with their software.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Leap of illogic

    The illustration shows the original iPod's Firewire charger. Firewire was powered on Apple devices, but many PC's that called it iLink (Sony) or IEEE 1394 used the non-powered 4-conductor variety of Firewire connectors, which weren't powered.

    As worded here, this could easily apply to eSATA connections, which do not supply device power. You could trickle charge over the data transmission lines of an eSATA connector, if the chipsets at both ends know that is what you want to do. You cannot charge over a fiber optic data line, at all.

    -- Len

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    One other thing:
    We can't even get Apple to let one stream their music from their computer to their iPod/iPhone. There are probably a ton more users who would like that (esp. from outside of the house, but I'll even take it inside) than wireless syncing.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Leap of logic

    Or it could even apply to something like power over ethernet.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cables aren't going away any time soon

    The comments about Apple being all about wireless are accurate for the consumer space, but the entire Audio/Video production industries will depend upon wired connections (specifically, Firewire) for many years to come.

    As I understand it, the beauty of LightPeak is that is doesn't necessarily REPLACE existing standards as much as SUPPORT them - Firewire over LightPeak is possible (with an appropriate bridge), as is USB over LP.

    One CONNECTOR will replace several, but the protocols will continue to exist.

    I hope.

  1. judgemalloy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hype and Misinformation

    I have downloaded and read this patent. The original application was filed in March 2005, well before Light Peak was even dreamed about, and the patent was granted in August 2009. In the snippet that was quoted in this article, they left out "The invention is particularly suitable for peripheral devices that utilize IEEE 1394 FireWire technology (e.g. ports, connectors and data transmission lines)." It is about powering a device, such as an iPod using the USB or FireWire port of the computer. It also includes a power adapter, as shown in the image above, for charging the peripheral from a wall socket. This is essentially identical to how the USB port is used to charge a cell phone. It has absolutely nothing to do with Light Peak.

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