O'Grady's PowerPage » MacBook Pro

Analyst states that next-gen MacBook Pro could use NAND storage system

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 06:00
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


The components found on the next generation of MacBook Pro notebooks could be that much more interesting.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ben Reitzes of Barclays Equity Research said that the adoption rate of Apple devices using SSDs, along with a continuing move to cloud computing, will push consumer notebook demand toward flash-based storage.

Perhaps the single greatest setback to flash adoption is that the price of solid state solutions grossly outweigh comparable HDDs, keeping the technology out of reach for everyday consumers. This cost ratio may tilt in the physical hard drive’s favor, however consumers have recently started giving up storage space and low cost for design and performance benefits, evidenced by the success of the thin and light MacBook Air.

Reitzes believes that the advent of cloud computing will help ease consumers in the transition from physical drives to flash by offloading storage to servers, thus diminishing the need for pricey high-capacity NAND drives. Apple’s iCloud is already well in-place and has the potential of filling offsite storage needs if the company chooses to move to a NAND-heavy laptop lineup.

For these reasons, the analyst expects Apple to reveal a NAND-equipped MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Airs with increased storage options in the near future.

“We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis – taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs,” Reitzes said.

The report goes on to say that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of notebook PC sales have been cannibalized by NAND-carrying iPads and iPhones, further impacting HDD demand for PCs. The move to portable products has been dubbed as the “post-PC era,” as consumers begin to replace computers with tablets and handset. Interestingly, this trend toward flash in consumer devices is seen as fueling data growth, which helps to augment sales of enterprise-class HDDs.

Hard drive makers won’t be the only ones to be affected by the trend toward cloud computing and flash storage, and Dell acknowledged earlier in May that PC demand was slowing due to the strong performance of tablets and smartphones. If rumors pan out, the PC market could see further pressure with Apple’s debut of a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad later this year.

It is expected that Apple will outline its intentions for iCloud and possibly introduce a revamped MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Production effort towards 2012 MacBooks creating labor shortage in/around China

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor


The good news is that Apple’s 2012 notebooks seem to be under construction.

The bad news is that this doesn’t really help the regional labor markets.

Per DigiTimes, anticipated demand for Apple’s redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company’s Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker’s production lines.

The publication added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the “strong orders from Apple” for the new notebooks, due “in the near future.”

“Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry’s traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple’s new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand.”

Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company’s new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks’ new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a ‘possible launch’ of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple’s total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 — a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

The report did not mention anything regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst states that Retina Display units could add up to $92 to price tag

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 14:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News


If you want the cool thing, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Per CNET, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard Shim has stated that super-high-resolution 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch screens are already available from LCD suppliers. But a Retina-quality screen for Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro would cost US$160 from suppliers, as opposed to US$68 for current, standard-resolution screens.

Similarly, with a 13.3-inch display, a Retina-caliber screen is US$134, while the LCD panels Apple currently uses are estimated to cost US$69.

If Apple does in fact add Retina displays to its future Macs, as is expected, it’s unknown whether the cost of these high-resolution screens would be passed on to the consumer. Apple upgraded its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad product lineups to Retina displays without increasing the price.

The screens DisplaySearch says are available that would be ideal for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pros are a 15.4-inch panel with a resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, or 220 pixels per inch, and a 13.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, or 227 pixels per inch. Each would add at least 100 pixels per inch to their respective MacBook Pro models.

Numerous reports have indicated Apple will introduce new, thinner MacBook Pros at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Those new professional notebooks are expected to include Retina display-like screens that will be driven by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to follow in the footsteps of Apple’s popular MacBook Air lineup by ditching built-in optical drives and adding flash memory for faster performance and greater reliability.

It has also been reported that Apple will update its all-in-one desktop line of iMacs at WWDC when it kicks off June 11. The new iMacs are also expected to have high-resolution Retina displays, but potential screens for the desktop were not highlighted by DisplaySearch.

In addition, DisplaySearch did not specifically identify any potential Retina display LCDs for a 17-inch MacBook Pro. One prediction published in April suggested Apple would discontinue its 17-inch MacBook Pro, leaving only the 13- and 15-inch models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to switch from AMD to Nvidia for next-gen MacBook Pro graphics cards

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:43
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor


Maybe it’s the nature of the industry: you have to be fickle about which graphic cards you go with and change your affections from time to time.

Per 9to5Mac, the web site claims to have discovered evidence that Apple may be planning to switch from AMD GPUs to Nvidia graphics in the new MacBook Pro, expected to launch in June.

A number of reports have emerged confirming the move, quoting ‘trusted sources’ and noting references in the to the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card in OS X beta code. The sources have gone on to claim having located references to the GeForce GT 650M, which, according to Nvidia, offers incredible dedicated graphics performance for gaming and other tasks, all while apparently being battery-life efficient.

The MacBook Pros currently use AMD’s Radeon HD 6770M and Radeon HD 6750M for graphics processing.

There are also reports that Apple will include USB 3.0 in the next MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut next-gen, thinner, Retina Display-equipped MacBook Pro units at WWDC 2012

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:11
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor


It’s the rumors that make things interesting.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will reportedly debut multiple new MacBook Pro models at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, each said to sport Retina Display-like screens and high-performance Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

The refreshed lineup is rumored to feature a slim design that will bring the laptop more inline with Apple’s popular MacBook Air series.

The sources also mention that flash memory will be used to decrease boot times and extend battery life, though it was not made clear if the new MacBook Pros will rely on pricey solid state drives exclusively as does the MacBook Air.

While the exact dimensions of the supposed next-generation laptop went unreported, rumors have suggested that the design will take cues from the MacBook Air and may do away with the existing optical drive in an effort to give the machine a slim, tapered appearance.

Also “confirmed” was the implementation of Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors which were recently unveiled in April. Built on “the world’s first 22nm process” and boasting new 3D transistor technology, the chips are said to be highly-efficient and powerful enough to support 4K resolutions. Intel is initially rolling out the silicon as part of the Core i5 and Core i7 families.

The inclusion of Intel’s powerful new processors could allow for screens with resolutions rivaling those seen on the current iPhone 4 and 4S as well as the new iPad, and rumors have persisted since last year claiming that Apple was working on a Retina Display laptop. Offering further evidence to a possible Retina Display MacBook are the latest OS X Lion updates which brought Hi-DPI UI assets in 10.7.3 and doubled icon resolution in 10.7.4.

Reports from upstream supply chain sources said that mass production of new MacBook Pro models would ramp up starting with the 15-inch model in April followed by a June manufacture for the smaller 13.3-inch unit. No mention of the 17-inch MacBook Pro was made and some predict that Apple will discontinue the large-screened model due to declining shipments.

Apple is also said to be showing off the “future of iOS and OS X” at WWDC 2012, alluding to a possible unveiling of iOS 6 and more Mountain Lion details. The conference will take place from June 11 through the 15 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Uncovered Geekbench benchmarks hint at speedy next-gen MacBook Pro, iMac computers

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:13
Category: Benchmark, Hardware, iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor


It’s the benchmarks that get you interested in a new architecture.

Per MacRumors, a series of Geekbench benchmarks that appear to be from unreleased versions of Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMac computers have surfaced online and serve as compelling evidence of upcoming upgrades from the company.

Scores for a MacBook Pro9,1 and an iMac13,2 were discovered by a MacRumors forum user on Sunday, as noted by the publication. Though it’s possible the results were spoofed, the model numbers, if accurate, are higher than Apple’s current-generation models.

According to the benchmarks, the MacBookPro9,1 was running Max OS X 10.8 (Build 12A211), a build that has yet to be released to developers. The machine reportedly made use of a quad-core 2.70 GHz Core i7-3820QM processor and received a GeekBench score of 12,252. That compares to a score of around 10,500 for the Core i7-2860QM processor found in the current MacBook Pro.

Benchmarks for the alleged iMac13,2 were posted a few days before the MacBook Pro results. The desktop was also powered by a quad-core i7 chip, though the model number was 3770 and the clock speed was 3.40 GHz. The operating system for the iMac was described as Mac OS X 10.8 (Build 12A2040), which may have been running an earlier build of Mac OS X 10.8 than that of the aforementioned MacBook Pro. The Geekbench score for the iMac came in at 12,183.

The report also noted that the motherboard identifiers for both machines match up with Mac models discovered in the first developer preview of OS X 10.8.

Geekbench has served as an accurate source of leaks in the past. In 2010, early benchmarks matched the eventual specifications of a MacBook Pro upgrade.

In March, benchmarks reportedly for “Hackintosh” Ivy Bridge-powered computers appeared online. A 3.50GHz Core i7-3770K CPU running Mac OS X 10.7 was said to have received a score of 13,453.

Chipmaker Intel officially launched its Ivy Bridge architecture late last month. Ahead of the release, CEO Paul Otellini indicated that the “bulk” of the first wave of chips would go to desktop computers. A second batch of Ivy Bridge processors bound for lightweight notebooks are scheduled to be released later this quarter.

Rumors have also suggested that Apple will release new iMacs in June or July. One report claimed last month that the new iMacs will feature anti-reflective displays.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to discontinue 17-inch MacBook Pro model

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:38
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


In addition to Microsoft pulling its Office 2011 SP2 update, here’s your other piece of potential bad news for the day:

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities predicted on Monday that Apple is “likely to stop making” the 17-inch MacBook Pro this year. He cited falling shipments with the company’s top-of-the-line notebook as the primary reason he thinks it will get the ax.

Kuo has a respectable track record with regard to Apple’s products. In particular, he was first to indicate in 2011 that Apple would phase out its legacy 13-inch polycarbonate MacBook.

Soon after, the white, entry-level MacBook was completely discontinued. It has been completely replaced at the US$999 price point by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, while education institutions can buy a special, less powerful version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air in bulk for US$999.

Apple is expected to launch a revamped MacBook Pro lineup in the coming weeks, featuring a new thin-and-light design similar to the MacBook Air, and powered by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The launch of new MacBook Pros is expected to be staggered, with the new 15-inch models leading the way as soon as this month.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to quickly follow and launch in June, bringing new features like solid-state storage and a thinner design lacking an optical drive. But while recent rumors have mentioned the 15-inch and 13-inch models, little has been said about a redesigned 17-inch MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel to announce Ivy Bridge architecture on April 23rd

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 07:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Processors


There’s gotta be some truth to this somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, Intel has moved up the announcement of its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors from the original date of April 29 to April 23 as PC makers ready the second generation of ultrabooks, expected to arrive in May.

The publication claimed on Thursday that sources from notebook players had revealed Intel’s change in plans. The launch comes as Asustek, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are expected to release Ivy Bridge-powered ultrabooks next month.

Multiple sources have pointed to late April for the Ivy Bridge launch. One report claimed late last month that Intel would announce the new processors between April 22 and April 28 and begin selling them on April 29.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pros will likely be the first Macs to feature the new Intel chips. Sources out of the Far East said last month that the updated laptops could arrive by the end of April.

Following the release of its new notebooks, the Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to release updated Ivy Bridge iMacs as early as June or July.

Other hints that Intel is nearly ready to release its Ivy Bridge architecture also came on Thursday when reports surfaced that Intel is shipping its second-generation Thunderbolt controllers for use with Ivy Bridge chips.

Thursday’s report also quoted Intel vice president Kirk Skaugen as saying that ultrabook prices will fall from US$999 to US$699 in the new few months as volume shipments drive costs down. PC makers have been hard at work at reducing the average price of ultrabook laptops in order to better compete against Apple’s MacBook Air.

Intel declared earlier this month that ultrabooks trump the MacBook Air in functionality and value.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Early Ivy Bridge benchmark tests surface, show appreciable improvements in graphics, overall performance

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Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 11:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News


It’s the benchmarks that make an upcoming technology that much more interesting.

Per CPU World, a series of benchmark tests demonstrates how the much-anticipated Ivy Bridge architecture in the upcoming MacBook Pro notebooks could show fairly significant improvements in performance, particularly in graphics.

The chip being tested was the Core i7-3820QM, a 2.7 GHz processor with turbo speeds up to 3.7 GHz paired with Intel HD 4000 graphics. The chip is scheduled to debut with a price of US$568 in high volume, and seems to be the natural successor to the Sandy Bridge Core i7-2860QM that is the current high-end processor for the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro, available as a build-to-order option.

For benchmarking comparisons, the new Ivy Bridge Core i7-3820QM chip was pitted against a Sandy Bridge Core i7-2960XM, which is an even higher-performance “Extreme” chip than is available in the current MacBook Pro. Consequently, any performance increase between the current high-end MacBook Pro chip and this new Ivy Bridge chip would be even greater than outlined in the benchmarking comparison.

Overall, the 3820QM was found to score an average of 9% higher than the Extreme 2960XM chip, a modest improvement but one which should be significantly higher relative to the 2860QM chip from the current MacBook Pro. Taking into account a roughly 10% higher performance for the tested 2960XM Sandy Bridge processor compared to the 2860QM actually found in the current MacBook Pro, the new 3820QM Ivy Bridge processor should offer roughly 20% higher CPU performance than is currently available in the MacBook Pro.

Looking at the CPU performance, using a few tests, the reduced production process helps the performance for a number of standard tests. In 3DMark Vantage (Entry level preset), Ivy Bridge has a 10% performance improvement over Sandy Bridge for the CPU score, and 9% in the physics score. In Cinebench 11.5, the single thread test showed a performance boost of 4%, and the multi-threaded test gave an improvement of 10%. The performance boost in the Truecrypt 7.0a – AES test was 4%. Finally, using x264 HD Benchmark 4.0, test 1 showed a boost of 13%, and test 2 showed a boost of 11%.

Even more significant gains for the Ivy Bridge chip show up in graphics performance, where the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics supplants the HD 3000 graphics found in the Sandy Bridge chips. According to the benchmarks, the new HD 4000 integrated graphics outperforms the current graphics by anywhere from 32% to 108% depending on the test.

Apple, of course also includes a dedicated graphics chip in its larger MacBook Pro models, giving users the option of higher performance with the dedicated chip or increased battery life with the integrated graphics. And given that the HD 4000 integrated graphics does not yet approach the performance of dedicated chips, those looking for maximum performance will still want to take advantage of whichever dedicated graphics option Apple includes in updated MacBook Pro models.

But significant improvements to integrated graphics performance could show up as a benefit in a number of areas, including providing users with better performance even when opting for the battery-conserving graphics settings. Apple has also reportedly been considering using integrated graphics only in some of its mid-range MacBook Pro models, with the HD 4000 chip making it feasible for the company to drop the dedicated graphics chip on some of those models while still being able to offer acceptable graphics performance.

Finally, the HD 4000 graphics will offer a marked improvement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is expected to debut in June when Intel rolls out its dual-core Ivy Bridge processors. The smaller 13-inch form factor requires that those models rely solely on integrated graphics, meaning that all users would see a significant boost from the current HD 3000 graphics to the new HD 4000 graphics.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News


When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.