Just a day ahead of the expected launch of the 2011 MacBook Pro, the leaks are starting to come fast and furious. As Wiley reported last night,
we've already seen specs leaked from a French site showing the new model with SSD boot drives and better battery life. Now a new leak from a German site
indicates that the new MacBook Pro will come with a new type of interface called "Thunderbolt," which is apparently Apple's proprietary implementation of Intel's new Light Peak high-speed optical interconnect with Mini DisplayPort compatibility. A separate image shows the MacBook Pro with the new connector, which is the same size and shape as a Mini DisplayPort.
Rumors about Apple including Light Peak in their new models have been around for some time. Reportedly, Apple worked with Intel from the start on designing the standard, which can be used for data input/output and power as well as video. The first implementation of Light Peak is expected to deliver 10 Gb/s transfer rates, with the potential to scale to 100 Gb/s by the end of the 2010s. To put that in perspective, you could transfer full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds over a 10 Gb/s Light Peak connection. The assumption has generally been that users would need Light Peak-compatible peripherals to take advantage of the new port. However, this doesn't appear to be the case.
According to a spec sheet leaked by German site fscklog
, the new MacBook Pro will come with a connector called "Thunderbolt," which is compatible with "High-Speed I/O" devices and Mini DisplayPort. This suggests that Apple's implementation of Light Peak is somewhat different than Intel's, which is not expected to be backwards-compatible with any other standard. A separate photo of unknown origin
shows the new MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt port that's the exact same size and shape of the existing Mini DisplayPort. Despite the fact that it seems like it could have very easily have been Photoshopped, the image has been "confirmed
" by MacRumors to be "legitimate."
If true, there are a couple of major wins here for Apple. For one, they've got a broad range of compatible monitors that can instantly be used with Thunderbolt. For another, the shape of the connector means you always know which way to insert the cable: leaked images of Intel's connector
show that it's symmetrical like USB. It's a little thing, but it's an example of Apple's design quality making a difference: the last thing the computer world needs is another
kind of cable that goes in the wrong way half the time.