Thunderbolt Will Become Even Faster—Just with New Cables

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Most of us have had zero opportunity to tap Thunderbolt's monster transfer speeds, but Intel's already promising huge boosts in the near future. The best part? The Thunderbolt ports we already have will get the upgrade, no changes necessary.

Intel's claim lies in the use of fiber optic Thunderbolt cables, which can rush data as beams of light, rather than as electrons via the copper wiring currently used for Thunderbolt. It's science, baby: photons just move faster. And the great news is that the new photon hotness will be backwards compatible with the Thunderbolt holes we already have, MacWorld reports, pushing data significantly further (long cables!) and quicker (700 MB/sec!).

Intel's eye on optical makes sense, given what's on the horizon: silicon photonics, which is just a fancy way of saying data on a chip converted to light, and then converted back again. It's something Intel's been working on for some time now, and has the potential to download a full HD movie in literally one second. So you can see why it's worth looking forward to, even if it's several years off, and will likely be expensive as hell at first. Maybe by that time, current Thunderbolt cables won't cost $50 goddamn dollars.