Apple 15-Inch MacBook Pro Features Retina Display, Ivy Bridge Chips

A slew of information about Apple's upcoming ultrathin, 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook, sporting a Retina display and Ivy Bridge chips, has leaked online.

It looks like Apple€™s MacBook Pro is indeed getting a facelift (and a tummy tuck), according to photos and other information on the Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac, which quoted €œtrusted sources€ in Apple€™s supply chain who had handled components for the device and said it was in test production. The 15-inch notebook will feature Apple€™s high-resolution Retina display as well as an ultra-slim design and USB 3.0 technology.

Like the MacBook Air, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro forgoes an optical drive as Apple focuses on getting its customers to download applications rather than physically install them from a disk. Unlike the MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pro doesn€™t feature a tapered design, but a photograph of a prototype shows the new MacBook Pro also has the power button integrated into the keyboard, similar to the MacBook Air.

Previous iterations of MacBook Pros had the power button integrated into the frame, with a round design. The power button on the keyboard is in the spot once occupied by the €œdisk eject€ button, according to the report and photos of an alleged test model.

€œThe current prototype unibody casings going through test production have spaces for a charging port, two USB ports, two audio in/out-sized ports, and the battery meter on the left side,€ the report noted. €œThe right side is said to have cutouts for two Thunderbolt-sized ports, an SD card slot and another USB port. Notably, these prototype unibodies lack room for Ethernet (Apple sells adapters since the MacBook Air lacks an Ethernet port).€

The high-resolution Retina display, found on the company€™s iPhone 4 and new iPad devices, was described by sources who had seen the screens in testing as €œjaw-dropping€ and €œdefinitely the most important Mac innovation in years.€ Because the Retina display€™s pixel density is so high, the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels, which means text in books, Web pages and email is crisp at any size, and photos and other visual media appear amazingly crisp.

The new notebook will be powered by Intel€™s Ivy Bridge chips (most likely in a quad-core combo), which are currently shipping for a range of notebooks, including Dell Alienware notebooks and Lenovo PCs, according to the report. The MacBook Pro will reportedly be paired with Nvidia GeForce 650 graphics chips.

If a USB 3.0 technology, which is supported by Ivy Bridge chips, finds its way onto the notebook, it will be a complement to, and not replacing, Apple€™s own high-speed transfer technology, Thunderbolt.

Photos of the alleged prototype show what appear to be USB 3.0 ports in addition to a Thunderbolt port. The development of Thunderbolt, which uses PCI Express and DisplayPort technology, first began at Intel Labs. The port allows users to connect external devices like RAID arrays and video-capture solutions directly to the Mac, as well as providing 10 watts of power to peripherals. Apple claims the technology allows users to move data to and from peripherals up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800.

The report did not mention a specific release date for the new MacBook Pro, but the indication is that Apple could be prepping for a June launch, perhaps at the company€™s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which takes place June 11-15 in San Francisco.