Other World Computing offers 480GB solid state drive option for MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:38
Category: hard drive, MacBook Air, News

It’s not cheap but it’s nifty and useful.

Per Macworld, Other World Computing has announced the Mercury Aura Pro Express 480GB, which the company says is the largest high performance solid state drive available for the 2010 MacBook Air. The full Mercury Aura Pro Express line offers solid state upgrades for both the 11.6″ and 13.3″ Airs, in 180GB, 240GB, 360GB, and 480GB sizes.

OWC, which says it is the only company making third-party drives for the 2010 MacBook Air, claims that its drives perform up to 68% faster than Apple’s stock Air drives in real-world use, with peak data rates of 275MB per second. The company also says that unlike other solid state drives, the Mercury Aura Pro Express drives won’t suffer from transfer speed reduction with heavy use.

The large, speedy drive will put a strain on your wallet. The smallest entry in line, the 180GB drive, retails for US$480 while the 480GB unit retails for US$1580.

The drives offer chip-based data encryption, and use SandForce RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology to provide RAID-like protection without a performance hit.

Apple releases firmware updates for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, iMac units

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:27
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never quite works perfectly until the updates hit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week released a series of updates for its newest MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktops equipped with the high-speed Thunderbolt port, addressing issues related to performance and stability.

Two updates are available for MacBook Pro owners: MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4, a 132.69MB download, and MacBook Pro EFI Update 2.1, a 3.06MB download. Both are available direct from Apple’s website or via Software Update.

Update 1.4 is said to include fixes that improve graphics stability, address issues with external display support and 3D performance, and also improve Thunderbolt device support.

Meanwhile, EFI Update 2.1 includes fixes that resolve an issue with Turbo Mode in Boot Camp, and improves performance and stability for graphics and Thunderbolt. A user’s power cord must be connected and plugged in to a working power source when applying this update, as it updates the EFI firmware on the MacBook Pro.

Owners of the new iMacs just released this week get Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB download, and iMac EFI Update 1.6, weighing in at a 6.1MB download. The Mac OS X update applies a number of fixes for the Snow Leopard operating system, including:

- Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

- Resolves an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

- Addresses various minor Mac App Store bugs.

- Addresses minor FaceTime performance issues.

- Addresses issues with graphics stability and 3D performance.

- Improves external display compatibility.

- Improves Thunderbolt device support.

Finally, the iMac EFI Update 1.6 includes fixes that improve the performance and stability for the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. The update will restart any iMacs it is installed on, at which point a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Apple has already quickly released a handful of updates for its new iMac desktops. On Tuesday, when the all-in-one computers first went on sale, a Boot Camp update was also available for download.

Apple updated its iMac line on Tuesday, adding faster Sandy Bridge Intel quad-core processors, a FaceTime HD camera, and the new Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt debuted in February in Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pros.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any significant changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may switch to ARM processors for notebooks in 2013

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 05:27
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per SemiAccurate, sources have claimed that Apple will be transitioning from Intel processors to ARM processors in the not too distant future.

The short story is that Apple is its notebook line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM-based chips as soon as possible.

The transition seems unlikely to take place after ARM has moved to full 64-bit cores which won’t likely be until at least mid-2013.

At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an [instruction set architecture] that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either.

Apple has made a heavy investment in the ARM architecture which presently powers their iOS line of products. Apple even made the bold move to take ARM processor design in house with the acquisition P.A. Semi and Intrinsity.

A transition of the Mac notebook line over to a different processor architecture would still present some roadblocks. While Apple did previously succeed in such a transition in the past with the PowerPC to Intel transition, it was not without an incredible amount of engineering to ease the process. Existing Mac applications would be unable to run on the new ARM processors without some sort of emulation layer. Mac applications would have to be recompiled to support the ARM processors.

While ARM is known for their low power processors, last year they announced plans to move into high-performance computing in the future, and has been rumored to moving into the 64-bit space as well.

Codenamed “Eagle,” the A15 architecture is ostensibly aimed at netbooks and tablets, but a look at the spec sheet leaves no doubt that ARM is absolutely gunning for the server market that Intel and AMD currently dominate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available