Thunderbolt Strikes: Apple's New Laptops Feature Improved Intel Technology

PHOTO Apple updated the industry-leading MacBook Pro family with next generation processors and graphics, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime HD camera.
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Apple's buzz-building machine is at it again.

In announcing the company's latest line of MacBook pro laptops, it also unleashed one epically named piece of new technology: Thunderbolt.

And Apple says it's as powerful as it sounds.

The so-called input-output (or I/O) technology makes it possible to transfer content to or from your laptop at lightning-fast speeds, the company says.

Similar to USB technology, which the laptops also support, Thunderbolt technology was developed at Intel labs (under the code name Light Peak) but makes its debut in Apple's newest laptops.

"Thunderbolt is a new interface technology that is roughly 10 times faster than what you currently have," said Lance Ulanoff, editor-in-chief of PCMag.com. "It's faster than USB, it's faster than FireWire. ...It's fiber-optic based."

Want to download a Blu-ray version of "Iron Man 2"? With Thunderbolt, it will take you 30 seconds, instead of minutes upon minutes or even hours (depending on your connection), he said.

Apple: Thunderbolt Is 20 Times Faster Than USB 2.0 Tech

Apple says Thunderbolt is 20 times faster than the current USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800.

It can not only move data at high speeds, it can also connect to displays (larger computer screens or monitors) without reducing performance, the company says.

"This is potentially revolutionary," Ulanoff said.

As people stream more and more high-definition video and work with larger files, he said, super-fast technology like Thunderbolt is becoming more valuable.

But whether people actually adopt the technology at super-fast speeds remains to be seen.

Ulanoff said it's unclear how much other technology will be compatible with the new high-speed system and history has shown that consumers don't always leap for the fastest technology on the market.

Apple's New Line of MacBook Pros Includes Three Laptops

USB 2.0 technology is still the most widely used interface technology, although USB 3.0 technology is much faster, Ulanoff said. (Apple's new laptops support USB 2.0, not the faster version.)

"It totally depends on adoption," he said. "It's something we certainly need and want. But we don't always get what we want."

Apple's new line of MacBook Pros includes three new laptops, starting at $1,199 for a 13-inch laptop and reaching $2,499 for a 17-inch version, which is essentially the same as the previous version.

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