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MacBook Pros get Core 2 Duo chips

Major upgrade for Apple's laptop line

Apple has upgraded its MacBook Pro laptops by adding Intel's new Core 2 Duo processors and hard drives offering up to 200GB of space.

Officials said the new MacBook Pros are up to 39 percent faster than the models they replace, largely because of underlying changes to the architecture of the new processor.

The two models offered by Apple are a 15in MacBook Pro that comes with a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a 17in version with a 2.33GHz processor.

Apple's MacBook Pro line was last updated with the introduction of the first Intel-based 17in. model in April.

Pointing to last week's quarterly earnings report, Benjamin said Apple sold 1.6 million computers in its last quarter, 1 million of which were laptops. "Portables are doing really well, so we're thrilled to follow that up with a new line-up of MacBook Pros," he said.

"We have Core 2 Duo [processors] across the line-up, with the 2.33GHz being the fastest Core 2 Duo out there," he said, noting that the new Intel chips offer twice the amount of Level 2 (L2) cache memory as the Core Duo processors used in the discontinued MacBook Pro models. The new chips have 4MB of L2 cache; the Core Duo chips had 2MB of L2 cache.

"When we look at [benchmark] testing, you see it's up to 39 percent faster than the fastest processors in the old model," Benjamin said. "We're moving from 2.16GHz to 2.33GHz, but clearly, 39 percent is more than just the [higher] clock speed."

He also said the new laptops are seven times faster than the Power PC-based PowerBook G4s offered by Apple a year ago.

"Where the rubber really hits the road is in professional applications," Benjamin said. "With Final Cut Pro, in rendering and encoding testing, this application is running up to 39 percent faster, and with Aperture - for images [both] raw and JPEG - it's 25 percent faster in our benchmark testing."

The new laptops come with double of the RAM of the previous models. The 15in version ships with 1GB of PC2-5300 (667-MHz) Double Data Rate 2 memory. The upgraded 15in and 17in models come with 2GB of RAM. All three support up to 3GB of RAM.

Apple has also added FireWire 800 ports to all MacBook Pro models and increased the maximum size of the hard drives available. The entry-level model ships with a 120GB hard drive that spins at 5,400 rpm. The 17in. version ships with a 160GB hard drive that also spins at 5,400 rpm. Apple also offers a smaller but faster 100GB hard drive that spins at 7,200 rpm and a larger 200GB hard drive that spins at 4,200 rpm.

"As far as the large drive technology, that's the largest available on the market today," Benjamin said, referring to the 200GB hard drive.

All of the new MacBook Pro models now feature dual-layer SuperDrives for burning CDs and DVDs. Until now, the dual-layer drive, which can burn more than 8GB of data on a single disc, was available only on the 17in. model.


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