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Inside the Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro

An iFixit teardown exposes the silicon soul of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro.

With nothing fresh on the outside, all the newness of the just-announced 15-inch MacBook Pro is on the inside, as iFixit illustrates in its latest teardown.

What is of interest to most, of course, is the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. MacBook Pros use these chips--built on Intel's latest 32-nanometer manufacturing process--for the first time.

The Core i5 processor package (the upper Intel chip package in the photo) actually contains two chips (which can't be seen in the teardown, as it only shows the outside of the packages). But inside each Intel CPU is the processor die and graphics chip (GPU) die. Later this year, Intel will put these two chips together on a single die (when processors built on "Sandy Bridge" technology go into production).

It should also be noted that while the main processor is built on 32-nanometer technology, the Intel GPU is built on an older 45-nanometer process. (But that will also change later this year.)

MacBook Pro circuit board with Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics (top) and Intel Core i5 logic (two tandem chips below). iFixit

As has been discussed far and wide already, the new MacBook Pros use switchable graphics. Need high performance? The Pro taps the power of the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics processor. Need to be frugal with power consumption (i.e., when on battery power only)? The technology automatically switches to the more power efficient Intel integrated graphics.

Other highlights, according to iFixit:

  • The battery is now rated at 77.5 Wh. That's just a tad bit bigger (6 percent) than the 73 Wh battery we found in last year's 15-inch model.
  • The battery is just three screws and a connector away from being able to be replaced.
  • Apple moved the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth board. This redesign no longer requires the wireless connections be integrated into the camera cable, greatly decreasing the size of the connector. Since the WiFi/Bluetooth board is now mounted inside the all-metal case, Apple added an antenna that is mounted on the frame for the optical drive opening.
  • Apple changed the design of this speaker assembly slightly, moving from a single plastic enclosure to separate plastic enclosures for the speaker and subwoofer that are connected by the speaker leads.
  • Apple has stopped using five-point Torx screws found on earlier MacBook 15-inch Unibodies in favor of Tri-Wing screws.