Intel technology inside new MacBook Pros

Apple's new MacBook Pros, due Thursday, use plenty of Intel technology and also throw in some new graphics tech from Advanced Micro Devices, CNET has learned.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Apple's new MacBook Pros, expected to be announced tomorrow, use a copious helping of Intel technology--and even throw in a measure of silicon from Advanced Micro Devices, CNET has learned.

New MacBook Pro uses a lot of Intel tech.
New MacBook Pro uses a lot of Intel tech. Apple

Thunderbolt: First things first. Intel's Light Peak technology (which Apple had a hand in implementing) has been renamed Thunderbolt, according to an industry source familiar with Apple's MacBook Pro rollout. In short, Thunderbolt is the official brand for the technology that had been codenamed Light Peak. This manifests itself in the form of a Thunderbolt connector on the new MacBooks.

Thunderbolt is a new interface that will let consumers connect peripheral devices that need to move a lot of data quickly, such as an array of disk drives, or an external device that requires very high-speed connections. Needless to say, it offers higher throughput than USB or FireWire. (Following CNET's report on Saturday about the adoption of Light Peak by Apple, the news about the new naming scheme was reported today by AppleInsider.) More details on this new high-speed connection tech here.

Sandy Bridge across the board: Intel's latest 32-nanometer Core i series processor makes it into all models. That's good news for consumers, of course. These Core i5 and i7 processors offer both improved power efficiency and better performance. A mainstream dual-core Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor, for example, runs at a speed of 2.3GHz but can jump to a higher speed, when necessary, of close to 3GHz.

13-MacBook Pro/Intel graphics chip only: Apple has gone with graphics silicon built directly onto the Sandy Bridge processor for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as CNET reported last year. Nvidia, and its chipset based on GeForce 320M graphics, is out. This likely presages changes to new MacBook AIr models expected later this year.

15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro/AMD graphics: AMD (formerly ATI) "discrete" graphics silicon is now offered in the larger, more powerful MBPs. As in previous MacBook Pros, the discrete graphics chip is only fired up when heavy lifting is needed. When power savings is paramount or high-end graphics processing is not necessary, the system defaults to Intel's graphics.

All in all, an array of technology that makes these new MacBooks pretty irresistible.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.