Apple issues fix for slow SATA speeds on new MacBook Pros

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In one of its quicker turnarounds, Apple has released a firmware update for its mid-2009 MacBook Pro lineup that addresses Serial ATA speeds that were unintentionally cut in half.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7 (3.4MB) mends a problem with the just-refreshed notebook line which effectively downgraded their SATA II drive interfaces to the original SATA specification.

The difference didn't affect the performance of traditional platter-based hard drives, which are rarely fast enough to tax the 1.5 gigabits per second the original SATA spec allows, but has been a thorn in the side for those hoping to use solid-state drives, or SSDs. Recent buyers in Apple's support discussions and elsewhere have noticed that faster aftermarket SSDs installed in their systems have been artificially capped at the older standard's speed. Earlier unibody MacBook Pros already support the full 3 gigabits per second maximum of SATA II, revealing the limit to be a bug rather than a conscious choice.

Installing the firmware requires a 13-, 15- or 17-inch MacBook Pro running at least Mac OS X 10.5.7. As the extra speed can only be seen by drives that Apple itself doesn't use, the Mac maker warns that it can't provide official support for disks that take advantage of the EFI patch.