"More power" is the theme of Apple's new MacBook Pro notebook computers unveiled Thursday, with multi-core processors, improved graphics, and a blazingly fast new I/O technology called Thunderbolt that tops out at 10Gbps.
The MacBooks start at $1,199 for the 13-inch model. Also available are 15- and 17-inch displays. The smallest of the three has Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.7 GHz, and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The other two models use quad-core Core i7 processors up to 2.3GHz, and AMD Radeon HD graphics processors with up to 1GB of video memory.
HISTORY: Evolution of the MacBook
All three models introduce a new I/O technology, based on collaboration with Intel, known as the Light Peak project. As previously reported, some analysts and enthusiasts think the same technology might appear in the next iPad.
Dubbed Thunderbolt by Apple, it uses two two-way channels, each capable of a maximum rate of 10Gbps. As Thunderbolt is adopted by other peripherals manufacturers, users will be able to daisy-chain multiple peripheral devices together, rather then plugging them all individually and directly into the computer.
Thunderbolt acts as a kind of superfast highway that can be used by a wide range of existing video streaming and data transfer protocols, according to Apple. "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," according to Apple. Also supported is DisplayPort for high-resolution displays. Adapters let Thunderbolt interface with HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.
As expected, MacBook Pro now has a built-in FaceTime HD camera with three times the resolution of previous models. Wi-Fi can be used to set up video calls with other similarly equipped MacBook Pro users, and with users of iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch. FaceTime can be added to other Intel-based Macs via an app from the App Store.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in two flavors: one with a 2.3 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, and 320GB hard drive starting at $1,199; the second with a 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 and 500GB hard drive starts at $1,499.
The new 15-inch model also has two variants: one runs a 2.0GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6490M, and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799; the second boasts a 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M, and 750GB hard drive starting at $2,199.
Finally, the 17-inch MacBook Pro is outfitted with a 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M, and 750GB hard drive, and carries a price tag of $2,499.
Full technical specifications are online.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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