May 21, 2011

Apple MacBook Air with Intel ThunderBolt technology

Apple is planning to launch new versions of its super light MacBook Air notebooks this summer, with two of features already in its newest MacBook processors : Intel's ThunderBolt port and Intel's second-generation core "Sandy Bridge" processors.

"We've taken everything we’ve learned about miniaturization from the iPhone and iPad and applied it to the MacBook,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the assembled audience at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Apple is ramping up for a manufacturing run of 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs that sport Intel's "Sandy Bridge" processors, as well as Thunderbolt, the I/O technology that's now available on the MacBook Pro and the iMac. The new Air models are said to be shipping in June or July, according to the report.

Thunderbolt is the I/O technology resulting from a collaboration between Intel and Apple. It boasts considerable speed advantages over USB 3.0, which is available on a number of PCs but not on Mac computers. Thunderbolt remains a nascent technology in terms of adoption across the computing industry, with only Apple's computers currently sporting a Thunderbolt port. Other manufacturers are slated to gain access to Thunderbolt next year.

As for Sandy Bridge, the extra processing boost could make a big impact on the Air's computing prowess. Apple's two Air models currently top out with a Core 2 Duo chip, which is Intel's previous generation chipset. Sandy Bridge represents the second iteration of Intel's "i" line of processors and brings with it both a boost in processing power and graphics capabilities.

The Sandy Bridge running MacBook Pros are said to be twice as fast as their predecessors, while Intel's ThunderBolt technology, created in collaboration with Apple, runs at 10G bps and is reportedly 12 times faster than using a FireWire 800 connection. The input/output technology brings together PCI Express, for high-speed data transfer, and DisplayPort, for high-definition display support, on a single cable. According to Intel a user can, for example, transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds.

"We've taken the vision of simple, fast transfer of content between PCs and devices, and made it a reality," Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said in a February statement on the introduction of ThunderBolt.