Apple Moves MacBook, MacBook Pro Lines to Penryn

MacBook Pro gains the multi-touch trackpads and environmentally conscious LED backlights of its sleek sister MacBook Air.

Apple introduced revamps to its entire laptop line on Feb. 26, boosting both the MacBook and MacBook Pro families with Intel's new Core 2 Duo Penryn processor family.

The new MacBook Pros "are the fastest Mac notebooks" Apple has ever produced, said Todd Benjamin, Apple's director of portables product marketing.

Benjamin said that the new models are "up to 74 percent faster than the original MacBook Pro" when tested with various Adobe and Apple pro-level applications (Apple's test results are documented on their site []). This is in comparison to a Core Duo 2.16GHz 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was introduced in the spring of 2006.

The performance boost "shows enhancements more than in clock speed" in the new MacBook Pros, Benjamin said. The new models, thanks to the move to Penryn, feature up to 6MB of L2 cache, compared to the Core Duo's 2MB; an 800MHz frontside bus; Intel's SSE4 vector engine; and a 45-nanometer die process.

Benjamin also said the new models should produce up to twice the graphics performance of the original MacBook Pro, thanks in part to the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT video card with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM in the base model, and 512MB in the other models.

Just Like Air

Also new to the 17-inch MacBook Pro is an LED backlight, similar to that in the MacBook Air. In addition to being lighter and less energy-intensive than previous display technologies (Benjamin claims the $100 configure-to-order high-resolution LED display in the 17-inch model saves 0.2 pounds and adds a half-hour of battery life), LED displays can be made without mercury, a toxic chemical used in previous displays.

The MacBook Pros also gain multi-touch trackpad features, first shown in laptops with the MacBook Air. This allows users to pinch, swipe or rotate images using two fingers. This gesture support is in most Apple applications. Anuj Nayar, Apple's senior manager of Mac hardware and pro applications, said that Aperture 2 also took advantage of gestures.