2011 MacBook Air found to be using new Thunderbolt chip
The folks over at iFixit.com have recently uncovered a Thunderbolt secret in the new 2011 MacBook Air, as reported by AnandTech.
According to the source, the latest MacBook Air lineup uses a newer, smaller Thunderbolt chip compared to those found in the Thunderbolt-equipped 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks. The newer controller, supposedly codenamed Eagle Ridge, was likely designed and fabricated with a reduced number of components for cost saving purposes as well as for combating any space issues within the small and thin MBA chassis.
Additionally, the smaller controller may even be providing less bandwidth than its larger variant. AnandTech points out that Eagle Ridge provides two channels and only one DisplayPort output compared to the quad-channel 80Gbps combined bandwidth offered by the current 2011 MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt. Electronista, however, doesn’t see this becoming a problem unless users begin daisy chaining high-bandwidth devices.
Whether or not Eagle Ridge will become more standard in notebooks compared to its older and larger brother remains to be seen, but the smaller chip would likely be the better deal if manufacturers can get them for cheaper.
The high-end 2011 Sony Vaio Z notebook currently uses a version of Thunderbolt as the interface between it and its docking station.