Apple adds new Core 2 Duo chips to pro laptop line

Apple Computer Inc. Tuesday ( unveiled upgraded MacBook Pro laptops that now feature Intel Corp.'s new Core 2 Duo processors and hard drives offering up to 200GB of space. Apple 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.

Prices for the two models offered by Apple -- a 15-in. MacBook Pro that comes with a 2.16-GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a 17-in. version with a 2.33-GHz processor -- start at US$1,999. The 15-in. model can also be upgraded to the 2.33-Ghz Core 2 Duo processor. That model sells for $2,499, with the 17-in. version selling for $2,799.

According to Apple Product Manager Todd Benjamin, the 15-in. models ship Tuesday, and the 17-in. models will ship next week. Apple's MacBook Pro line was last updated with the introduction of the first Intel-based 17-in. model in April. (

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

"We have Core 2 Duo [processors] across the lineup, with the 2.33-GHz 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 just-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 2.16 GHz to 2.33 Ghz, but clearly, 39 percent is more than just the [higher] clock speed."