When the Thunderbolt interface was initially announced by Intel, it was expected to utilize fiber optic cables to allow for faster transfer speeds across longer distances, but copper cables were introduced later on to reduce prices. Now Intel has told Macworld that we'll finally see those optical cables by the end of the year. No pricing or release date information has been provided, but the new cables will be compatible with existing Thunderbolt ports.
Intel originally developed Thunderbolt to be both backwards and forwards compatible, and because the optical tranreceivers will be baked into the actual cables, all current ports will be able to take the new optical cables. While the new cables will be both faster and work over distances of tens of meters — copper only works for distances up to six meters — they also come with a disadvantage. Unlike copper, optical cables don't provide any power, so any device they're plugged into will need its own power supply. Currently only available on Apple computers (though Sony has ports that operate on a similar technology), Thunderbolt is expected to be adopted by other PC manufacturers this year.