Apple Inc. on Thursday said its new MacBook Pro laptops are the first to include a "Thunderbolt" port for high-speed connections to both displays and other peripherals, like external hard drives.
The technology was developed by Intel Corp., which is aiming to spread it to the rest of the PC industry.
Thunderbolt replaces the Mini DisplayPort on MacBooks. It can connect directly to DisplayPort monitors, like those made by Apple. Like DisplayPort, the Thunderbolt port can also be used with adapters to connect to other displays with DVI, HDMI and VGA connectors.
What's new is that Thunderbolt can also carry data to peripherals like hard drives that use USB, FireWire, Ethernet or the new PCI Express standard. It carries data at speeds 20 times higher than most current USB cables.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has pioneered new connection technologies before. It gave USB, or the Universal Serial Bus, an important push in the late 1990s with its iMac computers. At other times, it's been isolated in its choice of connectors.
Intel has talked about Thunderbolt under an earlier name, LightPeak. On Thursday, the Santa Clara, Calif., company said it's working the industry to get Thunderbolt into computers, displays, storage devices and cameras, among other devices. It said several makers of external hard drives, like LaCie and Western Digital Corp., are planning to support Thunderbolt.
The other upgrades to Apple's MacBook Pro lineup Thursday include new processors from Intel and new graphics chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. It also increased the resolution of the built-in webcams. Prices start at $1,199 for the model with a 13-inch screen.