The new MacBooks are the first Apple portable to include a quad-core processor, Intel's Core i7. The devices also include more RAM, iFixit discovered. Thunderbolt, meanwhile, combines PCI Express and DisplayPort into a single connector.
On the new machines, you can chain up to six Thunderbolt devices. For comparison, FireWire supports 63 devices and USB supports up to 127 devices. But as iFixit noted, this might not be an issue since "we're not even aware of six products that support Thunderbolt yet." But if the connection becomes more popular, it might become a problem.
The RAM in the MacBooks is PC3-10600. That's the same RAM found in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs released last year, but different from earlier Apple laptops, iFixit said. PC3-10600 can be used in older MacBook Pro machines, but the RAM found in those older machines - PC3-8500 - will not work in the new MacBook Pros.
Intel today officially announced the availability of Thunderbolt, its new PC connection technology capable of running at speeds of 10Gbps—more than twice the speed of USB 3.0, and fast enough to transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds.
First introduced at IDF 2009 under the code name "Light Peak," Thunderbolt is based on fiber optics and was originally designed to transmit data over thin glass cables rather than traditional electrical ones. (Intel announced last month, however, that the initial iterations would use copper rather than fiber-optic cabling.) Powered by an Intel controller chip, it unites the PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort protocols to send data and video transmissions in two directions at once over a single cable.
Thunderbolt's first commercial application is on Apple's just-released refresh of its MacBook Pro laptop line. There had been speculation for a while that Apple would introduce the technology commercially, as Steve Jobs declared in October that because of lackluster support the company would not implement USB 3.0 right away.
Our pals over at BGR are reporting that sources have told them that the new Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro models, which should be available sometime in the next two weeks, will be sporting a the following new features:
- Even larger surface area for the glass trackpad
- A 8 or 16GB SSD specifically dedicated to running OS X
- They'll be about a half-pound lighter on average than the current models
The bit about the SSD dedicated to the operating system is the most suspect of the bunch, but that would certainly be one way to speed things up. I use an SSD in my Mac Pro that dedicated to running OS X and holding my applications folder, with separate hard drives for data storage. These rumors are added to the one that says that Light Peak may make its debut on the new MacBook Pro as well.
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It's time to insert another quarter in the Apple rumor-machine. In addition to the rumored Macbook Pro refresh coming in a week or two—we've reported a possible March 1 date for an introduction of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU lineup into the line, though other sites are indicating that this could occur as early as February 24—it's time to throw a new connector into the fray as well.
CNet is reporting that an undisclosed source has told the site that Apple plans to introduce a new connection technology "soon." The site then goes on to speculate that this may or may not be a part of the rumored Macbook refresh—rumors upon rumors!—and that the technology may or may not be the Apple-renamed version of Intel's Light Peak connection technology.
Just to refresh, Apple's been balking at adding USB 3.0 to its product lineups for some time now. "We don't see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example," Apple CEO Steve Jobs allegedly replied when asked about USB 3.0 in an e-mailed question by a customer last year.