Apple Release New MacBook Pros with Sandy Bridge CPUs and Thunderbolt

Posted by at 11:55 am on February 24, 2011

Apple today updated the MacBook Pro family with next generation processors and graphics, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime HD camera. Featuring the very latest sandy bridge dual-core and quad-core Intel Core processors, the entire MacBook Pro line is up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

The lineup’s biggest leap in performance comes for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,199 for the previously confirmed 2.3GHz dual Core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and Intel’s much improved HD 3000 graphics driving a 1280×800 display; battery life is only quoted at seven hours, but is now using the tougher “real” standards. A $1,499 configuration boosts it to a 2.7Ghz Core i5 and a 500GB hard drive.

The 15- and 17-inch models are the first-ever quad-core mobile Macs and start at $1,799 for a unique-to-Apple 2GHz quad Core i7, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a 1440×900 display and an AMD Radeon HD 6490M with live graphics switching, all while maintaining the seven hours of battery. A $2,199 version of the 15-inch system goes to an official 2.2GHz quad Core i7, a 750GB hard drive and a Radeon HD 6750M. The 17-inch flagship at $2,499 has a 1920×1200 display and the same performance as the 15-inch edition aside from the usual third USB port and an ExpressCard/34 slot instead of the SDXC reader.


Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.

Intel at its Light Peak (Thunderbolt) preview event in San Francisco on Thursday said that Apple effectively had the technology to itself for the next year. The 10Gbps spec wasn’t exclusive to Apple, but the semiconductor firm didn’t expect other computer builders to have it until early 2012. It was up to them to decide when to leap in, Intel said.

Other companies won’t get the developer kit for Thunderbolt until the spring, giving Apple at least several months’ lead time. Hardware specifications will be tied to the kit and won’t be published publicly, Intel said. Only Intel makes the needed controller chip.

All Machines can be ordered today.

Thunderbolt may now give Apple a clear speed edge for any external storage, even trumping USB 3.0 and external SATA.

The technology only supports 10Gbps for now, but it already has scaling built in, according to Intel. Where a current Thunderbolt link is two lanes, it can work with as many as two lanes in each direction, scaling up to 20Gbps symmetrically or 40Gbps if all traffic flows in one direction.

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