Will the real Thunderbolt please stand up?

Intel’s Thunderbolt transfer protocol will likely remain copper-based – rather than fiber optic-powered – for the foreseeable future.

As you may recall, Thunderbolt (aka “Light Peak”) was originally designed to run on optical technology but currently uses copper wires instead.

According to Intel exec Dadi Perlmutter, fiber optics remain prohibitively expensive to implement.

Meanwhile, copper wires are capable of achieving a higher than expected transfer rate of 10Gbps (gigabits per second).

As such, fiber optics probably won’t be used to power Thunderbolt for “many years.”

“It’s going to be way out. At the end of the day it’s all about how much speed people need versus how much they would be willing to pay,” Perlmutter explained. 

“Copper will continue to improve, which happens. There have been many technologies that had been predicted dead 20 years ago that are still making good progress. We’ll see.”

Intel’s Thunderbolt is currently used by Apple in the company’s latest Macbook and iMac lineup.

Both Acer and Asus have confirmed that they will be supporting  the transfer protocol in 2012 for Intel’s upcoming line of Ultrabooks.

[Via IDG News]