Confirmed: MacBook Pro debuts Intel Thunderbolt

24 Feb 2011

Intel's Light Peak arrives in update to Apple's high-end laptops

Apple has updated its MacBook Pro lineup, adding the Thunderbolt interconnect formerly known as Intel's Light Peak.

That makes the MacBook Pro the first device to use the new interconnect technology, which combines data transfers via PCI Express and displays using DisplayPort on a single dual-channel cable at 10Gbits/sec.

"All Thunderbolt technology devices share a common connector, and let individuals simply daisy-chain their devices one after another, connected by electrical or optical cables," Intel said.

Although DisplayPort offers bandwidth up to 17.28Gbits/sec, above Thunderbolt's 10Gbits/sec, that shouldn't be a problem with a single-monitor setup, as running a 1080p display at 60Hz demands just over 4Gbits/sec.

Using adaptors, Thunderbolt also supports FireWire and USB, and Intel stressed it was "complementary" to existing interconnect technologies. Thunderbird offers more than twice the bandwidth of USB 3's 4.8Gbits/sec.

Intel said a host of tech manufacturers planned to use Thunderbolt in their products, including LaCie and Western Digital.

Revamped specs

Apple claimed the new MacBook Pros are twice as fast as the previous line-up, thanks to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. The 13in MacBook Pro runs Intel's Core i5 or i7 dual-core processors, while the 15in and 17in versions run quad-core i7 processors.

The new laptops will feature a built-in HD camera and be preloaded with Apple's FaceTime video-conferencing software.

In the UK, the 13in will start from £999, the 15in from £1,549 and the 17in from £2,099.

Apple also released a developer preview for its next operating system, dubbed Mac OS X Lion, showing off new features including the Launchpad app organiser, a new version of the mail client, wireless file transfers called AirDrop, and FileVault encryption.

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