Thursday, February 24, 2011

Intel technology inside new MacBook Pros

Apple's new MacBook Pros, expected to be announced tomorrow, use a copious helping of Intel technology--and even throw in a dose of silicon from Advanced Micro Devices, CNET has learned.
Thunderbolt: First things first. Intel's Light Peak technology (which Apple had a hand in implementing) has been renamed Thunderbolt, according to an industry source familiar with Apple's MacBook Pro rollout. In short, Thunderbolt is the official brand for the technology that had been codenamed Light Peak. This manifests itself in the form of a Thunderbolt connector on the new MacBooks....

Thunderbolt is a new interface that will let consumers connect peripheral devices that need to move a lot of data quickly, such as an array of disk drives, or an external device that requires very high-speed connections. Needless to say, it offers higher throughput than USB or FireWire. (Following CNET's report on Saturday about the adoption of Light Peak by Apple, the news about the new naming scheme was reported today by AppleInsider.) More details on this new high-speed connection tech here.
Sandy Bridge across the board: Intel's latest 32-nanometer Core i series processor makes it into all models. That's good news for consumers, of course. These Core i3, i5, and i7 processors offer both improved power efficiency and better performance. A dual-core mainstream Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor, for example, runs at a speed of 2.3GHz but can jump to a higher speed (called "Turbo Boost"), when necessary, of close to 3GHz.
13-MacBook Pro/Intel graphics chip only: Apple has gone with graphics silicon built directly onto the Sandy Bridge processor for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as CNET reported last year. Nvidia, and its chipset based on GeForce 320M graphics, is out. This likely presages changes to new MacBook AIr models expected later this year.
15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro/AMD graphics: AMD (formerly ATI) "discrete" graphics silicon is now offered in the larger, more powerful MBPs. As in previous MacBook Pros, the discrete graphics chip is only fired up when heavy lifting is needed. When power savings is paramount or high-end graphics processing is not necessary, the system defaults to Intel's graphics.

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