The Light Peak implementation in Sony’s Vaio Z allows multiple I/O protocols to run. It’s spurred fantasies of replacing HDMI, VGA, USB, FireWire, eSATA and other ports — Wouldn’t your PC and tablet devices look neat with just one kind of port that supported everything? But cool as it is, the development has led to some controversy.
In 2009, when Intel released its 10Gps Light Peak Technology, Apple’s involvement was clear in a demonstration on a workstation running OS X with Light Peak. Turned out the companies has been working together on the technology since 2007. In January 2011, Intel revealed that Light Peak would run on copper, which cheaper than the fiber optics it originally intended. That made it easily affordable for consumer use. In February, Apple’s MacBook Pro came out using the technology under Intel’s Thunderbolt trademark.
Then in June, Sony unveiled its 13-inch Vaio Z. Included was a hybrid USB connector “based on” Light Peak technology.
Sony calls the Vaio Z’s super fast connector is a “Power Media Dock Port. ” It works well with USB 2.0 and 3.0 devices without an adapter. Great. But the USB Implementers Forum, a group co-founded by Intel to promote the use of USB-compliant peripherals, is none too pleased. In a statement, the group said:
USB connectors are not general purpose connectors and are not designed to be used in support of other technology applications or standards or as combo connectors. The unauthorized use of USB connectors and specifications may cause a variety of problems with interoperability, compatibility, usability, and may lead to hardware failures, consumer confusion as well as other legal and marketing issues.
Meantime, Intel has actually backed Sony’s non-standard implementation regardless of the fact that it is sure to lead to confusion among consumers. Intel’s Dave Salvator, from Thunderbolt’s PR team, says that beside the fact Thunderbolt was only formalized after Sony’s machines had been released, Sony’s version of the technology will only work with its Power Media Dock, so fragmentation shouldn’t be an issue.
And you thought only the technology was complicated.