IDG's news service reports that Intel is reassuring owners of current-generation about the future of the cutting-edge input standard. Indirectly quoting Intel's Dave Salvator, IDG reports, "Thunderbolt ports on Apple's current Macintosh computers will be compatible with upcoming fiber optic cables, which should be ready by next year."
The current generation of Thunderbolt ports on Apple's most recent MacBook Air, iMac, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro computers all rely on a first-generation copper-based Thunderbolt design. While certainly fast--offering 10Gbps data throughput both in-coming and outgoing simultaneously--copper-based Thunderbolt ports were more of a cost and timing compromise. The fiber optic variant of Thunderbolt could offer up to 100Gbps of simultaneous bidirectional transfer speeds.
By assuring compatibility between the two Thunderbolt variants, Intel helps comfort current Mac owners and potential buyers of copper Thunderbolt-based Windows PCs due out next year.