Apple MacBook Pro line gets faster processors, FaceTime HD, Intel Thunderbolt I/O

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Apple updated its MacBook Pro line of laptops on Thursday with dual or quad core processors, FaceTime HD video chat, faster graphics and the addition of Intel’s new high-speed connector technology called Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt, which had been shown off by Intel for more than a year under the name Light Peak, is supposed to transfer data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second. USB 2.0 transfers data at about 480 megabits per second.


Thunderbolt can also be used to connect computers to external monitors and transfer data at the same time, all with a single cable -- an optical cable.

Intel said a full-length high-definition movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds and one-year’s worth of continuous MP3 music can be downloaded in 10 minutes.

Thunderbolt is replacing Apple’s mini-display port on the side of the new MacBook Pros -- though it will still work with those connectors.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is getting new Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors with speeds up of to 2.7 GHz.

Apple’s 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro computers are using only Intel’s quad-core Core i7 processors with up to 2.3 GHz in speed and faster AMD Radeon HD graphics processors with up to 1GB of video memory for more intensive uses such as video editing or playing video games.

And all three sizes of MacBook Pro are getting an updated front-facing camera above their screens, dubbed FaceTime HD cameras.


The move officially sweeps Apple’s old laptop cameras, known as iSight, out of the company’s MacBook Pro line. FaceTime HD adds widescreen video shooting for video chats and photos and is compatible with other Intel-based Macs, the iPhone 4 and the current-generation iPod touch.

[Updated at 9:48 a.m.: The refreshed MacBook Pro line is available for purchase in Apple stores and Apple’s online store. The prices for the laptops remain the same, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro starting at $1,199, the 15-inch starting at $1,799 and the 17-inch model starting at $2,499.]


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Images: (Top) New Apple MacBook Pro computers. (Bottom) A view of Intel’s Thunderbolt port on an Apple MacBook Pro. Credit: Apple