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Thunderbolt connector
Apple shows off its '11 MacBook Pro notebooks

Apple today released a revamped MacBook Pro lineup. Those expecting fresh new case designs and SSD boot drives will be disappointed.

The smallest member of the MacBook Pro lineup, the 13" model, is finally moving into the modern era by ditching its base Core 2 Duo processor for a Core i5 processor running at 2.3GHz. Standard storage capacity has been bumped from 250GB to 320GB and the standard 4GB of DDR3 memory is now running at 1333MHz. 

While the sleek 13" MacBook Air is sporting a 1400x900 display, the 13" MacBook Pro still soldiers on with a 1280x800 display. When it comes to graphics, Apple has ditched the NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics for the on-chip Intel HD 3000 graphs solution with 384MB of shared memory. 

Other features worth noting are FaceTime HD (triple the resolution of the previous FaceTime camera), support for SDXC memory cards, and an implementation of Intel's Light Peak that it dubs "Thunderbolt". 

“Thunderbolt is a revolutionary new I/O technology that delivers an amazing 10 gigabits per second and can support every important I/O standard which is ideal for the new MacBook Pro," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

Apple further describes ThunderBolt:

Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on a notebook computer. 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. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

The 15" and 17" MacBook Pros also get processors upgrades, and both are now available with quad-core Core i7 processors (2.0GHz in the 15" model, 2.3GHz in the 17" model). Like their little 13" brother, the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros also gain SDXC slots and Thunderbolt. Standard storage on the 15” and 17” MacBook Pros are 500GB and 750GB respectively. 

The biggest news for the two largest members of the MacBook Pro family is the removal of NVIDIA discrete GPUs to accommodate new AMD Radeon graphics. The 15" model comes packing a standard Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB of memory while the 17" is equipped with a Radeon 6750M with 1GB of memory.

As is typically the case with Apple's notebooks, the latest MacBook Pros will cost you quite a bit more than comparable Windows 7-based machines. The 13" MacBook Pro still starts at $1,199 -- Apple also offers a 13" MacBook Pro with a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor and 500GB HDD for $1,499. The 15" MacBook Pro starts at $1,799 and the 17" MacBook Pro starts at $2,499.

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RE: Thunderbolt
By XZerg on 2/24/2011 10:59:02 AM , Rating: 2
as I have mentioned before the bandwidth can be limited depending on what you use it for. I personally would like to see manufacturers release a USB3 or the LightPeak based docking station/port replicators like what we see for laptops. Just imagine only couple of cables connecting to the back of your system (desktop/laptop) and the rest connecting to the docking station. It would standardize the docking station for laptops which I believe is very much necessary. It would make for much cleaner desk, simpler cabling solution and ease of (dis)connecting devices.

Just to make sure a worthy docking station would have:
6 USB ports (at least 2 of them usb 3)
card reader
at least 2 of the below display ones (preferably being able to run 2 of them concurrently)
* hdmi
* displayport
* dvi

For the above mentioned, i doubt even a 10Gb is sufficient port but would be much better than what we have currently.

RE: Thunderbolt
By Iaiken on 2/24/2011 11:48:40 AM , Rating: 2
You mention desktop, but I already have a nice clean cabling solution that is called a motherboard/case combo with decent I/O panels.

On the back:
8 USB 2.0 (2 are eSATA combo)
2 USB 3.0 (both are eSATA combo)
2 Ethernet
1 Firewire
1 spdif
8-channel analog audio

On the video card:
2x DVI
1x Displayport

On the front:
1x Headphone Jack
2x analog line in
4x USB (2 eSATA combo)
1x firewire
card reader (piggy-backs off my internal fire-wire)

I ultimately fail to see how you think this could possibly make for a cleaner desk. Currently the only cable that runs across my desk is my keyboard (which my mouse plugs into).

I can see how this would be nice for a laptop since it would basically offer up a fuller IO panel, but when it comes to desktops, you can just do a better job of picking one out in the first place.

RE: Thunderbolt
By XZerg on 2/24/2011 1:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
yes but every time you want (dis)connect something you have to reach behind the computer which for most users sits under the desk - no good.

the front panel ports are sometimes ugly.

also imagine wanting to have your case sitting further than your rest of the components - screen/keyboard/speakers... And then there is connecting the components to two different system would be a simple cable change from one case to the other.

RE: Thunderbolt
By Iaiken on 2/24/2011 3:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
yes but every time you want (dis)connect something you have to reach behind the computer which for most users sits under the desk - no good.

Uh... not really... things that I plug in and remove all the time go in the front IO panel(which is actually on the top of the case) or the card reader(in the uppermost bay below my bluray). I haven't unplugged anything from the back panel in at least 6 months.

You can sit and dream up use cases for things all day, but it's hard to beat simply planning ahead and making sure that your workspace is organized and usable.

The only one that I would be at all interested in would be the last point, but that only happens when I want to troubleshoot a second system without setting up a second workspace for it. If I ever bothered with something like this, I would just install it on the rear surface of my desk and even then it wouldn't do all that much to pretty up the cabling on top of the desk. It would also be pointless if the offending system didn't have thunderbolt.

Just another added royalty expense for expense sake...

RE: Thunderbolt
By kattanna on 2/24/2011 11:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
you dont want your video data to have to make 3 passes through the internal system bus, and even if you could get a DMA transfer directly from the the frame buffer to the I/O port itself, thats still a massive strain that could easily lead to starving the CPU and lower overall performance dramatically. also i would highly expect hitching on the video stream itself trying that route out of the system. not a good thing.

the rest of those items could easily be handled by a single USB3 connection out of the laptop to some docking port, and i would be shocked if someone didnt do exactly that.

now im not against this new connection, not at all. its just i dont see a need great enough for OEMs to want to incur the costs when they get can 99.9% of what they want done with a USB3 port.

apple with play with it a bit im sure, but if the add-on market doesnt make anything using the new connection it will die out.

i expect this new connection to become a high end niche thing, if it even survives at all.

RE: Thunderbolt
By XZerg on 2/24/2011 3:42:10 PM , Rating: 2
I willing to sacrifice that CPU power for this sort of communication to simplify life just how USB did years ago. This just takes things a step further. BTW ArsTechnica has posted more in depth information about this port:

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