Apple has made the shift to Intel, with CEO Steve Jobs announcing a new laptop and iMac containing the company's processors at the opening of Macworld Expo last night - six months ahead of schedule.

Intel's Core Duo processor will be used inside a 15.4in MacBook Pro notebook as well as in a 17in and 20in iMac. Intel's CEO Paul Otellini joined Jobs on stage to announce the new systems, which are up to five times more powerful than comparable notebooks using the G4 processor, Jobs said.

"It's not a secret we've been trying to shoehorn a G5 [processor] into a notebook, and have been unable to do so because of its power consumption," Jobs said. The G5, or PowerPC 970FX processor, is used in Power Mac desktops and iMacs but Apple never released a version of its notebook lineup with the chip. The Core Duo processor provides roughly five times as much performance per watt of power consumption as the G4 or G5 chips, he said.

The laptop comes with an Apple-developed technology called MagSafe, to prevent it being jarred if someone trips over the power cord. Instead, the power cord is magnetically attached to the notebook.

The MacBook Pro will be available from next month. Two versions will be available for $1,999 and $2,499. One comes with a 1.67GHz Core Duo processor, 512MB DDR2 SDRAM, 80GB hard drive, DVD/CD burner, Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics chip and integrated Wi-Fi support.

The $2,499 version has a 1.83GHz Core Duo processor, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM and a 100GB hard drive. Both systems ship with Apple's Front Row media software and an infrared remote control.

The new iMacs will be the same price as previous systems and they are shipping immediately. The 17in version comes with a 1.83GHz Core Duo processor, 512MB DDR2 DSRAM, a 160GB hard drive, integrated Wi-Fi support, a double-layer SuperDrive and the X1600 for $1,299. The 20in iMac costs $1,699 with a 2GHz Core Duo, 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM and a 250GB hard drive.

IDC's Bob O'Donnell, research vice president for client devices, was impressed by the performance of the new systems as compared to Apple's previous generation technology, but the prices of the new iMacs were higher than he had expected. "It would have been nice if they were faster and cheaper" as compared to older iMacs, he said.

Other announcements

Jobs also announced a range of other new products including:

  • A five-year extension to the technology agreement with Microsoft, which means Microsoft will continue to make Mac-compatible versions of Office, including for the new Intel-based Macs.
  • An overhaul of the iLife and iWork suites.
  • A remote control, and a radio for the latest iPods.