With Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, Apple's new MacBook Pro models still likely feature Intel inside
Apple’s new MacBook Pro models have been long-awaited by pro users and prosumers since Apple announced its transition to Apple Silicon at WWDC in June 2020. With the transition, Apple has stopped releasing new Macs with Intel processors with many making much of the switch. It is an undoubted blow to Intel’s prestige and is reflective of the struggles that it has had with its chip fabrication technology.
However, Apple’s new MacBook Pro models aren’t completely free from Intel silicon as many have assumed. One of the highlights for MacBook Pro users who have labored with what has been called ‘dongle hell’ over the past few years has been the return of several so-called ‘legacy’ ports such including the HDMI port and the SDXC card slot. However, Apple has also fitted the new MacBook Pro models with Thunderbolt 4 technology which means they still have ‘Intel Inside’ and Apple’s engineers will still have collaborated with Intel on bringing these new MacBook Pro models to market.
Thunderbolt 4 is an improved version of Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology and delivers the same peak bandwidth of 40Gbps, but it comes with several key improvements that have seen it finally adopted by Microsoft and featured on many new PCs. A single Thunderbolt 4 connection supports sending a video signal to two 4K displays or a single 8K display. It also doubles the minimum 16Gbps data rate over PCI Express to 32Gbps which is great news for video editors and the next generation of Thunderbolt 4-based peripherals.
So, for the time being, Apple’s MacBooks, iMacs and Mac Pro models will continue to rely on Intel technology. Unless, of course, Apple decides to develop its own superior connectivity standard. It actually has quite a history in this regard having developed most recently the Lightning port used on its iPhones and having a hand in the development of USB-C. In fact, it even worked with Intel to help develop the original version of Thunderbolt technology. And further back than that, it led the development of FireWire. Whether Apple sees its Mac connectivity as being better served by developing its another new connectivity technology remains to be seen.