Not All Thunder Created Equal, New MacBook Air Using Scaled-Down Thunderbolt Chip
Image Courtesy of iFixit
According to AnandTech
, Apple has decided to go with a scaled-down Thunderbolt Controller in the new MacBook Airs.
The scaled-down Thunderbolt chip found in the new MBAs is referred to as Intel's "Eagle Ridge" controller chip, while the controller found in iMacs and MacBook Pros is called "Light Ridge." The smaller Eagle Ridge controller comes in two sizes, normal and small form factor, the MBAs contain the small form factor. What this means for consumers is the MBAs effectively have half the I/O power as the larger Light Ridge based Macs. Eagle ridge has two bidirectional Thunderbolt channels and one Display Port output compared to Light Ridge's four bidirectional Thunderbolt channels and two DP outputs.
MBA users may feel snubbed by the smaller, and limited Thunderbolt chip, but it is also cheaper and smaller allowing it fit within the MBAs smaller chassis and price range. Eagle Ridge Thunderbolt controller chips could be the push the new I/O needs to appear in lower-end products and help legitimize it as a viable I/O option for other manufacturers.