Sumitomo Electric Industries says Intel has signed off on active fiber optic Thunderbolt cables made by the company, the first of their kind to go into mass production.
The cables can be up to 30 meters (just under 100 feet) long, and provide full 10Gbps throughput with little performance degradation even when pinched by up to 180 degrees or tangled in knots. The cord is the same thickness as current standard Thunderbolt cables, but the connector size is slightly longer.
ZDNet notes that these cables could be put to good use by allowing noisy data storage devices like the Drobo 5D to be put into a soundproof closet, away from your Mac.
While there have been reports about the development of fiber optic Thunderbolt cables over the past year, this is the first official announcement. Pricing is currently unknown, but it is possible they will be considerably more expensive than current cables.
One difference to note, the new optical Thunderbolt cables do not carry any on-board power, requiring any connected devices to have external power supplies in order to work. They cannot be bus-powered.
Intel has said that existing Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with the new fiber optic cables, ensuring compatibility when the new cables are released.