Apple unveiled its MacBook Pro 2011 on Feb. 24, which happens to be Steve Jobs’ 56th birthday. The buzz surrounding the MacBook Pro 2011 is focused on a new I/O (input/output) technology by Intel called Light Peak. Apple is the first to adopt Light Peak and has rebranded the technology as ThunderBolt on the new MacBook Pro.
ThunderBolt is lightning fast
Apple’s new MacBook Pro looks identical to the previous model, except for ThunderBolt, an innovation that has captivated technology industry pundits. Formerly known as Intel’s Light Peak, ThunderBolt has dual channel transfer rates as high as 10 gigabits per second. It is seen by Apple as the I/O technology of the future that will eventually displace USB 3.0. ThunderBolt will allow MacBook Pro users to transfer an HD movie as large as 20 gigabytes from another source in less than 30 seconds, according to Intel. Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup includes two 13-inchers, two 15-inchers and a 17-inch model. Prices run $1,200 to $2,500 before options. All MacBooks feature Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processors in dual- and quad-core versions.
ThunderBolt makes FireWire seem slow
Thunderbolt technology offers the flexibility of FireWire with transfer speeds up to three times faster. Just as with FireWire, MacBook Pros need only one ThunderBolt port because all ThunderBolt devices (when they come on the market) can be interconnected. ThunderBolt also supplies power, eliminating the need for external power adapters for peripherals. As a single interface for multiple functions, ThunderBolt automatically figures out its intended use. The technology will work as an interface for everything from external hard drives to display monitors. Intel’s Light Peak prototypes featured optical cables, but Apple’s ThunderBolt runs on copper wires in order to support bus-powered peripherals.
Apple launches I/O paradigm shift
ThunderBolt devices are expected to start shipping this spring. Meanwhile, Apple’s ThunderBolt taps peripherals directly into the PCI interface, enabling it to support FireWire and USB adapters. The new MacBook Pro also comes with two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 800 port. Apple is coming out ahead of the curve again with ThunderBolt, just like it was the first to abandon the floppy drive in 1998 and create a laptop, the MacBook Air, without an optical drive in 2010. Other PC manufacturers are expected to catch up with Apple by adopting ThunderBolt in 2012.