Attack of the Minis http://tinyurl.com/46an3wm
Light Peak is an interesting technology and one I want to see sooner rather than later. Essentially it’s one connector for all purposes: peripherals (storage, i/o), networking (short distances in first release, longer later) and a replacement for the connectors we use now (which will largely work with adapters. The only protocol that may not run over Light Peak is USB 3, but USB 1 & 2; FireWire 400/800, eSATA, SAS ethernet and Fibre Channel could all be replaced with a single Light Peak connection at 10 Gbits/sec.
FireWire 800 is nominally 800 Mbits/sec
USB 2 is up to 400 Mbit/sec
USB 3 runs at 3 Gbit/sec, the same as a single lane of PCIe internally.
Ethernet runs up to 1000 Mbit/sec and
eSata connects at 3 Mbit/sec.
So, with a single 10 Gbit connection we could run a couple of FW drives; mixed with some USB (power permitting) and an Ethernet connection simultaneously with only a single connector on the host computer.
Robert Cringely may have inside information – note how he swaps from the generic Light Peak (Intel’s name for the technology) to LightPoint. Apple are expected to brand the connector with their own branding as they did with FireWire (IEEE1394) and AirPort (for 802.11).
Xgrid has been built into OS X for years, offering some nice loosely coupled multiprocessing capabilities that few people have taken advantage of. Grand Central dispatch is now built into OS X that allows high efficiency task scheduling not just on the local multi-core machine, but down to individual program threads between tightly coupled machines (think FiberChannel). But LightPoint makes FiberChannel look slow, is inexpensive (FiberChannel is not), and is super easy to set up. And don’t forget Apple has invested gigabucks in that huge North Carolina data center — a data center that is schedule to open very soon.
Start with a Light point-equipped Mac Mini. Need more horsepower? Just get another Mini and connect with LightPoint. Grand Central will automatically distribute the load across multiple devices. A 2U rack will hold EIGHT Mac Minis that, tightly coupled, will run rings around an Xserve. Better yet, given a good high bandwidth connection, OS X will be able to access applications and data in the cloud as though it were local.
[Update] All reference to LightPoint has been removed from the Cringely article.