Feature Articles

Macworld Conference & Expo 2006

Macworld Conference & Expo 2006

One More Thing Unveiled - The MacBook Pro

One More Thing Unveiled - The MacBook Pro

The decision of going Intel for its processors meant that it would become increasingly difficult for Apple to remain hush-hush about any new versions to its Macintosh line of computers. The news that Intel has shipped the new Yonah processors and the fact that many PC laptop makers like Dell, Acer, NEC and Samsung have begun releasing information on their Yonah-based notebooks before Macworld sort of managed our expectations. For the record, as far as the PC side is concerned, Yonah will receive the marketing name "Core" with the words "Duo" or "Solo" following behind to mark whether it is a dual or single core version. The Centrino name will remain, but the new platform will be called Centrino Duo if it's paired with Core Duo. Will the new Macs however use the same naming convention as their PC counterparts? And are we going to see the new Intel logo sticker on them? Is Apple really going to unveil an Intel-based Mac ahead of schedule? Before Macworld, all these were mere questions. But now, we have the answers.

As far as hardware predictions are concerned, the rumor sites seem to have had a 50% hit rate of success. Many have expected the Mac mini to get an upgrade and if there was going to be a new Intel-based Mac, it would be for the lower-end Macs such as the iBook. But in retrospect, a Yonah-based iBook would outperform the PowerBook G4 and it seemed illogical that Apple would release a consumer model that will outshine a professional model. So when Steve Jobs announced that there was going to be one more thing after the new Intel-based iMac, it could only mean one thing: a new Intel-based professional notebook.

It is no secret that Apple has been trying for quite a while to incorporate the PowerPC G5 chip into the PowerBook. But during the keynote, he explained that it was very difficult to do so due to the power consumption of the PowerPC G5 processor. In terms of performance per Watt, the PowerPC G5 is even less efficient than the PowerPC G4 (0.23 vs. 0.27). But the Intel Core Duo has an incredible performance per Watt rating of 1.05. And so, Apple decided to ditch the PowerPC G4 in its professional notebook line and went instead for the new Intel Core Duo processor. However, since the 'Power' is no longer in the new laptop, a new name had to be conceived. Hence, the “MacBook Pro” was born.

MacBook Pro - The Details

Two versions of the new MacBook Pro will be sold come February: the 1.67GHz, 15.4-inch model is priced at USD$1999; while the 1.83GHz, model is priced at USD$2499. Here are some standard features that can be found on the MacBook Pro:

  • Integrated iSight video camera – for on-the-go videoconferencing using iChat AV, recording a video podcast or iMovie using the new iLife ’06, or simply taking quick snapshots with Photo Booth.
  • Apple Remote with Front Row – for a portable media experience, up to 30 feet away.
  • MagSafe Power Connector – a new magnetic power connector that snaps off when it’s being pulled suddenly (such as when someone trips over its running cable), and thus preventing the laptop from falling to the ground too.
  • Backlit keyboard and light sensor
  • Scrolling TrackPad
  • Sudden Motion Sensor
  • DVI Video-Out capability to a 30-inch Apple Cinema Display - courtesy of its new graphics processor with its Dual-Link DVI controller.
  • Digital optical and analog audio in/out port

Other than the standard features listed above, both MacBook Pro models will have a 15.4-inch display (that is now as bright as the Cinema Displays and runs at a resolution of 1440 x 900), a 4x SuperDrive, Gigabit Ethernet, Airport Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR connectivity, two USB 2.0 and one FireWire-400 ports, as well as an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot.

The 1.83GHz model differs from the 1.67MHz model mainly in terms of preinstalled memory (1GB versus 512MB, 667MHz DDR2), hard disk capacity (100GB versus 80GB, SATA), and graphics card memory on the ATI Radeon X1600 (256MB versus 128 GDDR3).

Performance-wise, the MacBook Pro is expected to run four to five times faster than the PowerBook G4. In terms of integer performance, the PowerBook G4 scored 6.7 in SPECint_rate2000 but the MacBook Pro Core Duo scored 30.3 in the same benchmark. In terms of floating point performance (SPECfp_rate2000), the former achieved 4.9 while the latter pummels it at 25.6.