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Intel to introduce Thunderbolt cables later this year

Fibre-optic Thunderbolt cables will be released by Intel later this year.

Optical cables designed to help Intel's Thunderbolt data transfer system achieve its potential will be released later this year.

The Thunderbolt port was introduced on products made by Apple, which co-developed the technology, last year.

However, the use of copper cables, rather than fibre-optic has limited the impact of the new technology.

USB 3.0 can, theoretically, transfer data from a peripheral to a laptop at 4.8Gb per second, much faster than the 480Mb per second offered by USB 2.0.

Using copper wires, Thunderbolt can transfer data at 10Gb per second, wise as fast as USB 3.0. Yet the potential top speed when using a fibre-optic connection will be a whopping 100Gb per second.

The price of fibre-optic technology has been the major drawback thus far, but Intel now seems to have developed a workable, affordable solution.

One thing that may be a drawback for Thunderbolt, however, is power supply. Copper wires provide up to 10 Watts of power to peripherals, negating the need for them to be plugged in to a power source. Fibre-optic connections do not offer this.

Having held exclusively with Apple for the last year, Thunderbolt will now be transferring to Windows-based laptops later this year.

This could be an important step, because as Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, points out, Thunderbolt is still niche technology and will not move mainstream until Thunderbolt ports are produced with regularity onto peripherals such as cameras, MP3 players and phones.

Intel recently announced support for gamers, by revealing the introduction of Graphics Performance Analyzers 2012.

The GPA system, which has been available on PC for some time but is now being made available to laptop and ultrabook users, gives gamers the chance to access powerful tools that analyse the performance of the chipsets and identifies areas where they can be tuned to work more effectively.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801316863-ADNFCR