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A supposedly leaked icon for "ThunderBolt" the rumored name for Apple's upcoming Intel Light Peak implementation.  (Source: Engadget)

A leaked image of uncertain credibility shows ThunderBolt co-inhabiting with the DisplayPort adapter.  (Source: Engadget)

The 13-inch MBP appears to be ditching the discrete GPU, if this leak is to be believed.  (Source: via Engadget)
Is Apple preparing to hurl a Thunderbolt at its users?

Apple typically updates its MacBook Pro lineup at least once a year.  After an update in July, Apple is looking to kick things off a bit early, with a refresh coming later this week according to numerous reports.

Engadget claims to have a leaked spec sheet of the 13-inch model, along with photos of the shiny new Apple notebook.

What is presumably the entry-level model at 13 inches is powered by an Intel 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge i5 processor with 3 MB of L3 cache.  That's down ever so slightly speed-wise from the current generation, but given Sandy Bridge's improvement it should be a bit faster while offering more battery life.

Apple looks to be bumping its DDR3 memory interface from 1066 MHz in the current model to 1333 MHz in the new model.  The hard drive gets a slight capacity bump, as we anticipated, jumping from 250 GB to 320 GB.

The screen resolution (1280x800) remains unchanged, as does the FaceTime camera, wireless adapters, and optical drive.

A minor addition is the inclusion of an SDXC reader, which supports both normal SD cards and the extended capacity (XC) models.

But two things really stand out about the spec sheet.  The first is the fact that Apple has ditched a discrete graphics chip, opting to go with only Sandy Bridge's built in Intel 3000 HD GPU. Hopefully its larger and higher-end models (15", 17") will have new discrete GPUs.

Graphics aside, the other intriguing note is a new port dubbed "Thunderbolt" that apparent co-inhabits the DisplayPort adaptor.  This is supposedly the implementation of Light Peak.

Light Peak is Intel's answer to USB 3.0.  Despite claims of spectacular performance, based on the fiber optics implementation, the communications format in its current form should offer little if any speed gain from USB 3.0 given that it's being reportedly implemented on copper wires.  And where USB 3.0 is an open standard that anyone can use or contribute to, LightPeak is a proprietary standard, which OEMs will have to license from Intel.

If Apple supports Light Peak, it would be the first major OEM to embrace the format.

If the specs sheet holds true, it creates an interesting dilemma for Apple buyers.  The new-ish 13-inch MacBook Air offers a superior discrete GPU, a higher resolutions screen, and is thinner/lighter.  But it comes with a much slower Intel Core 2 Duo processor and lacks built-in optical media capabilities.

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RE: GeForce 320M is not a discrete solution
By Leper Messiah on 2/23/2011 9:59:48 AM , Rating: 1's benchmarking process is pretty worthless though. I don't think I've seen any real world benchmarks that say that the HD3000 is better than the 320M.

RE: GeForce 320M is not a discrete solution
By chaos386 on 2/23/2011 10:21:59 AM , Rating: 2
Anandtech has a comparison of the 320M and HD 3000 in Bench:

The HD 3000 wins most of the benchmarks, although it's paired with a much faster CPU (2.3 GHz quad core Sandy Bridge vs a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo). It's not the best comparison, but it's something.

RE: GeForce 320M is not a discrete solution
By Ushio01 on 2/23/2011 2:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
Using your link it shows 6 games being tested each of which has a lowest and medium/highest depending on the game and shows the 320M winning with 4 games at the higher setting looks like a downgrade to me.

By wielander on 2/23/2011 6:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
In each of those cases neither is capable of decent framerates so the benchmarks at the lower settings are far more important. Sandy Bridge wins solidly in synthetics and is better in 2/3rds of the benchmarks above 30fps. The built-in video encoding/decoding tech is far more significant in my opinion, though (cuda video coding is still worthless for consumers and has practically been abandoned).

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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