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Apple unveils new Macbook Pro lineup with new high-speed Thunderbolt port

As expected, Apple today updated its 13-, 15- and 17-inch Macbook Pro models with dual-core and quad core processors, making the new lineup up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

Perhaps the most important change is the debut of the Thunderbolt I/O standard. With two bi-direction channels — both capable of speeds of 10GBS — Apple claims that Thunderbolt is more than 12 times faster than FireWire and 20 times faster than USB 2.0. Thunderbolt also offers native support for Mini DisplayPort and support by way of adapters for DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA displays. Thunderbolt is also compatible with FireWire and USB devices.

Apple has also included a built-in FaceTime camera in all of the new models to support the video calling service that was introduced last year with the iPhone 4. FaceTime is included in the new generation of Macbook Pros. Users of other Intel-based Macs can now purchase the program through the App Store for $0.99.

The 13-inch Macbook Pro features Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.7 GHz and Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM. The 15- and 17-inch models feature quad-core Core i7 processors up to 2.3 GHz and AMD Radeon HD graphics processors with up to 1GB of video memory.

Don’t look for a complete re-design in the new lineup: the aluminum unibody and its associated components appear to remain unchanged from the previous generation.

The 13-inch Macbook Pro starts at $1,199, the 15-inch at $1,799 and the 17-inch at $2,499. All models include the Snow Leopard OS X and iLife.

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