Rumor: Apple continues initial next-gen MacBook Air production run, begins certifying components for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 07:05
Category: iPad, MacBook Air, Rumor

A new report corroborates earlier indications that Apple will begin production of revamped MacBook Air notebooks this month, while also adding an unverified tip on a high-resolution iPad 3 reportedly coming later this year.

Per Reuters, Apple will begin selling the new MacBook Air in late June with an initial shipment of 380,000 units.

According to the Economic Daily, when shipments of the new MacBook Airs are combined with shipments of the existing model, 460,000 units are expected to be produced this month.

Over the weekend, one tipster claimed that revitalized MacBook Airs would arrive this week, but eventually revised his story to suggest that Apple would actually begin carrying unlocked iPhone 4s at Apple Stores in the U.S.

The report also claimed that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in the fourth quarter with “image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2.” But, it should be noted that the rumor appears highly unlikely and is reported here for the sake of completeness.

While numerous reports of an upgraded iPad 3 with a doubled resolution of 2048 x 1536 already exist, the resulting display would have four times the amount of pixels. Various sources have also hinted that the iPad 3 will not arrive until 2012.

Apple has reportedly begun certifying components for the iPad 3, but component makers expect the device to come out next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to enter mass-production in June

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for the upcoming MacBook Air, it might be closer than you think.

Per AppleInsider, the second-generation of Apple’s revitalized MacBook Air notebooks are scheduled to enter mass production during the month of June, with an initial build volume hovering around 400,000 units.

Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the Mac maker has placed orders for the production of a total of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs this month.

The analyst, whose industry checks have long provided accurate insight into the Cupertino-based company’s future hardware plans, notes that roughly 55% (or 209,000) of those MacBook Airs will be of the 11.6-inch varieties, which have proven slightly more popular than the 13.3-inch offerings due to their more attractive entry-level price points.

In addition, Kuo notes that Apple plans to wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units, bringing the total number of MacBook Airs slated for production in June to 460,000.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

And a big part of that notebook lineup has become the MacBook Air. A source familiar with Apple’s supply chain stated back in March that the ultra-thin notebooks were then selling in volumes roughly half that of MacBook Pros, as customers have embraced the thinner, lighter and less expensive offerings during a phase when computing is increasingly shifting to the mobile space.

Apple shipped more than a million units of the new MacBook Air in its first quarter of availability, but rumors of an upgraded model with Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors quickly began to swirl as far back as February.

The new MacBook Airs set to go into production this month will move to to Intel’s 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge architecture, with the chipmakers’ latest ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips. With the upgrade to Sandy Bridge, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips found in the current offering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

MacBook Air supplies running low prior to anticipated Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt port refresh

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Date: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011, 04:06
Category: MacBook Air, News

It’s when the current supplies run low that the interesting stuff tends to be around the corner.

Per 9to5Mac, sources have stated that supplies of the MacBook Air are dwindling ahead of an expected refresh for the product line.

Back in April, it was reported that new MacBook Air models were likely to be on the horizon, perhaps launching in June.

However, the most significant additions to the new MacBook Airs are likely to be Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt ports.

Many of the MacBook Air’s rivals in the thin-and-light category such as MSI, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung are either already using Sandy Bridge processors or are about to introduce them.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing A5 processor, Thunderbolt port with MacBook Air prototype (updated)

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Date: Friday, May 27th, 2011, 03:25
Category: MacBook Air, Processors

Ok, this could be interesting.

Per Japanese blog Mac Otakara, sources have have stated that Apple is testing a MacBook Air with an A5 processor, the same CPU powering the iPad 2 as well as a Thunderbolt port. While the machine performed “better than expected” according to their source, the article says it’s unclear whether this test machine was running Mac OS X or iOS.

If Apple has indeed built such a device, it’s unlikely the company intends to put it on the market. While the A5 processor is powerful enough under iOS, in terms of raw performance it pales in comparison to even the least powerful Intel chips, the A5′s Geekbench score standing around 720, while the lowest-rated MacBook Air processor scored over 2000. Benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, of course, but they’re a fairly reliable predictor of the general performance you can expect to get from a machine.

From what we’ve seen of Mac OS X Lion thus far, it already looks as though Apple’s looking at ways of merging OS X and iOS as far as the software’s concerned. If Mac Otakara’s sources are correct, it seems it’s just a matter of time before the hardware follows.

Stay tuned for additional information as we get it.

Rumor: Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-Equipped MacBook Air notebooks to surface in June/July

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Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, 03:01
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The line of Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac notebooks looks likely to complete with the MacBook Air come June or July.

Per an article in DigiTimes, sources from makers in the MacBook Air supply chain will begin shipping 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Air models “in late May.”

“Main supply chain makers for the new models remain about the same as for the existing MacBook Air, with Quanta Computer solely responsible for assembly, Catcher Technology supplying casings, Auras Technology a main supplier of thermal modules, Shin Zu Shing supplying hinges, and Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying batteries,” the report noted the sources as saying.

Given the expected high volume of initial shipments of Apple’s thin-and-light notebook and the relatively higher prices of Apple’s components, Taiwan-based makers “rest the hope on Apple orders for revenue contributions,” according to the report.

DigiTimes’ sources corroborate a previous report that pegged MacBook Air shipments as going to mass production in late May. According to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, checks with Asian suppliers and system builders revealed that, after declining sequentially after the release of new MacBook Pros, MacBook Air shipments are expected to rebound in the June quarter ahead of a refresh.

In February, it had been claimed Apple would transition the MacBook Air to Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors in June.

Apple’s first Macs to feature the Sandy Bridge architecture were the early 2011 MacBook Pros released in late February. The new MacBook Pros also saw the first implementation of the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. Earlier this month, the Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker unveiled new iMac all-in-one desktops with quad-core Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt.

According to one analyst, supply chain sources indicate that Apple intends to refresh the rest of its Mac lineup “in upcoming months,” though further details were unavailable.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

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.

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

Rumor: Apple to start production of Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air notebooks in May

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Date: Monday, April 25th, 2011, 03:05
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air line as the company looks to maintain the impressive sales momentum generated by the ultra-thin notebooks and limit the market opportunity for would-be competitors hoping to wedge their foot in the door.

Per AppleInsider, sales of the aggressively-priced 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs got off to a hot start following their introduction last October, with Apple assembling roughly 1 million units within their first quarter of availability. During those three months, consumers reportedly chose the new MacBook Airs at a one-to-two ratio to the company’s more established MacBook Pro offerings, making for one of the company’s most successful Mac product launches ever.

However, shipments of the Airs declined 51% sequentially during the first calendar quarter of 2011 — including a 40% month-over-month decline in February — as Apple introduced new MacBook Pros that caught consumers’ eyes, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has proven sources within the Cupertino-based company’s Far Eastern supply chain.

Kuo stated that his latest round of checks with suppliers and system builders in the region reveals that MacBook Air shipments are set to rebound during the current calendar quarter, fueled by an upgrade to Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors, integrated Intel graphics, and the expected adoption of the new Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology that made its debut on MacBook Pros earlier this year.

Specifically, he said the new models will “go to mass production in late May,” which corroborates an earlier report that cited reliable sources as saying Apple would be ready to publicly announce and ship to consumers MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors during following month of June.

The upgrade should help boost Apple’s overall notebook shipments between 5% to 10% sequentially for the current quarter, according to Kuo, reversing a 5% decline from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, which he notes was still less than the 11% average decline for notebook shipments from the top 6 OEMs worldwide during the same period.

In moving to Intel’s 32-nanometer (nm) Sandy Bridge architecture, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips for the chipmakers’ new line (below) of low-voltage and ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory.

Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Newer MacBook Air notebooks arriving with faster Blade solid-state drives

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Date: Monday, April 18th, 2011, 04:27
Category: MacBook Air, News

You may be getting a bit more than you paid for with some of the latest MacBook Air notebook units.

Per AnandTech, Apple eventually included a commercially available Toshiba Blade X-gale solid state drive module, model TS128C with the notebook.

Reports have surfaced showing MacBook Airs equipped with a second, even faster SSD with a SM128C part number — the “SM” hinting at its presumed Samsung manufacturing origins. Samsung’s SSD manages up to 260MBps read and 210MBps write speeds compared to Toshiba’s 210MBps read and 185MBps write performance. While it’s hardly unusual for Apple to multi-source components, aa recent decision to source parts from Korea’s Samsung would have been a smart move to keep just-in-time supply lines fully stocked following the spate of disasters in Toshiba’s home country of Japan. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any way of confirming which SSD you’re about to purchase without cracking open the retail box and running the OS X System Profiler…

To sum it up, you might get a bit luckier than you expected when snagging the current MacBook Air, it’s just a matter of chance.

Apple releases Mac OS X Supplemental Update to resolve MacBook Air/iTunes issue under Mac OS X 10.6.7

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:43
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

Just over a week after releasing Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple has issued a subsequent patch aimed at users of the new Late 2010, 13 inch MacBook Air to fix a system crash related to iTunes.

“This update addresses an issue that makes the system unresponsive when using iTunes,” Apple notes on its support page.

Per AppleInsider, the patch is just a 461 KB download and requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 Build 10J869 to be installed first. Both are available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The system lockup problem on new 13″ Air models appeared in Apple’s discussion forums after the release of Mac OS X 10.6.7 as an easy to replicate issue that resulted in having to force reset affected systems, indicating that the problem was inadvertently introduced with last week’s larger update.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.