O'Grady's PowerPage » MacBook Pro

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro line, includes Sandy Bridge, Light Peak/”Thunderbolt”, FaceTime HD technologies

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Date: Thursday, February 24th, 2011, 09:08
Category: MacBook Pro, News

Sometimes the rumor mill can be pretty accurate.

On Thursday, Apple released a new refresh of the MacBook Pro notebook, adding new dual-core and quad-core (a first for Apple’s notebooks) Intel processors, 3x faster graphics in the 15- and 17-inch models, ultrafast Thunderbolt (i.e., Light Peak) I/O and a FaceTime HD camera.

Per Mac|Life, the line includes the upgrade to Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, including quad-core on certain 15- and 17-inch models that use the 2.2GHz Quad Core 2720QM and 2.0GHz Quad Core 2630QM CPUs. These processors also include Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, so even apps that don’t take advantage of four cores will still see a boost in speed.

Intel’s Light Peak has been included in the new lineup under the new new “Thunderbolt” monicker and using the Mini DisplayPort port. The port technology is anticipated to negate the need for USB 3.0 on computers that implement it, capable of 10 gigabits per second I/O, which is double the throughput of the current USB 3.0 spec.

Graphics performance also gets a boost with the new models, with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor now standard on all MacBook Pro models, which powers the new FaceTime HD camera capable of up to 720p video, as well as extending playback time for DVDs and iTunes movies. The 15- and 17-inch models get an extra boost by including high-performance AMD Radeon graphics processors for up to three times the performance of previous models:

-17″ 1920×1200 Display. 2.2Ghz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB. US$2,499

-15″ 1440×900 (1680 option) Display. 2.2GHz Quad i7. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB. US$2,199.

-15″ 1440×900 (1680 option) Display. 2.0GHz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. AMD 6490M
256MB. US$1,799

-13″ 1280×800 Display. 2.7GHz Dual i5. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. Intel HD Graphics. US$1,499

-13″ 1280×800 Display. 2.3GHz Dual i5. 4GB RAM. 320GB HD. Intel HD Graphics. US$1,199

As always, here’s the Apple Store link and let us know what you think in the comments.

Leaked photo surfaces of purported 15″ next-gen MacBook Pro specs

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 24th, 2011, 04:12
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures, Rumor


In the final days before the anticipated launch of the refreshed MacBook Pro notebooks, the rumors are streaming in while a new leaked photo offers some interesting possibilities.

Per French Apple site Mac4Ever, a photo has surfaced of what appears to be a 15-inch MacBook Pro box. The site also claimed to have obtained several pictures of the 13-inch earlier on Wednesday. Though the report asserts that the photo is “genuine” with “confirmation,” no sources can currently make any claims as to the authenticity.

The site was unable to verify exactly which model the box was for, but asserts that it is “without doubt the entry or mid-range,” because the 3D card has just 256MB of RAM.

According to the photo, Apple’s next-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro has:
– An Intel Core 2.0 GHz i7 quad-core processor with a 6MB cache

– 4GB of RAM at 1333 MHz

– 500GB hard drive

– 15.4-inch screen with 1440×900 resolution

– Intel HD Graphics 3000

– AMD Radeon HD 6490M GPU with 256MB of memory

– FaceTime HD camera

– 8x SuperDrive

– Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort

– SDXC slot, FireWire 800 port and two USB 2.0 ports

– Audio and Ethernet ports

– Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

– 2.54 kg in weight

Mac4Ever has a mixed track record with predicting Apple products. In July of last year, the site incorrectly claimed that Apple would release a 64-bit version of iLife ’11 with a ‘mystery application.’ In September, the site correctly predicted that Apple was working on a FaceTime for Mac application, though a rumored FaceTime for Windows has yet to materialize.

The fact that the Apple Store went down early Thursday could provide further evidence that Apple plans to release a new product today.

Rumor: Next-Gen MacBook Pros to have improved batteries, will see the end of the white model

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011, 10:39
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


The rumors are coming in a bit more rapidly now with details emerging that the upcoming MacBook Pros will sport larger trackpads, weigh slightly less than the current models and have a 8 – 16 GB SSD boot drive to house Mac OS X (everything else will be stored on a separate HDD). Per MacRumors, tt’s also been reported that the new MacBook Pros will come with a custom all-SSD option at a higher price point.

French Mac site MacGeneration has thrown in its two cents to claim that the new MacBook Pros will feature a SSD (16GB mSATA) boot drive, providing faster startup times and performance improvements. It also claims that new MacBook Pros will weigh 200 – 300 grams less than the current versions: 1.8 kg for the 13-inch model, 2.3 kg for the 15-inch model and 2.65 kg for the 17-inch model.

The site also expects HD resolution displays (1,440 x 900 for the 13-inch model and 1,680 x 1,050 for the 15-inch model), plus a newer Core i3 chip, an extra USB port and 12 hours of battery life for the 13-inch model. The 15-inch model will have 10 hours of battery life.

The article also claims that customers will be able to order the 15- and 17-inch models with additional storage (a solid-state drive replacing the SuperDrive). The 17-inch model is expected to have 8 GB of RAM and the high-end 13-inch model will apparently have a matte screen order option, too. The site claims the MacBook Pros will see the introduction of a “new technology” (most likely, Light Peak, a.k.a “Thunderbolt”.

Finally, MacGeneration has claimed that the white MacBook model will be discontinued, though the memories will always remain…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photos show alleged Light Peak/”Thunderbolt” port on upcoming MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011, 05:43
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures


Ok, this smacks of the nifty.

Apple’s implementation of Intel’s Light Peak technology could be dubbed “Thunderbolt,” according to alleged new pictures of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro hardware and box.

Per AppleInsider, alleged hardware specifications show that in addition to a supposed Thunderbolt port, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro will also sport an input for an SDXC card. The specs also suggest that the 2.3GHz Core i5 processor will not be accompanied by a discrete graphics card.

The provided specifications include:
– 2.3GHz Core i5 Processor
– 4 GB DDR3 @ 1333 MHz
– 320 GB HDD
– 13.3-inch display @ 1280×800 pixels
– Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384 MB shared memory
– FaceTime high-definition camera
– Thunderbolt connector supporting High-Speed-E/A and MiniDisplay-Port devices
– SDXC, Firewire 800, and two USB 2.0 slots
– Backlit keyboard
– 2.04kg weight

Finally, a picture claiming to show the ports on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, including Thunderbolt, has also surfaced. It shows the new high-speed port in the exact same shape as an existing Mini DisplayPort input, which could allow the picture to be easily doctored.

Apple is expected to introduce its new line of MacBook Pro notebooks on Thursday. In addition to Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors, the systems are rumored to have support for Intel’s high-speed Light Peak data connections.

Intel is also set to hold a press briefing on Light Peak the same day. Sources have stated that Apple’s new MacBook Pros would feature new enhancements outside of the jump to Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs.

If accurate, the alleged pictures of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro and use of the term “Thunderbolt” suggest that the company could include a unique implementation of Light Peak with its own branding that would be unique to Apple products. It would also lend support to rumors that the forthcoming iPad 2 would feature a built-in Mini DisplayPort, perhaps for more than just a video out.

Rumor: Apple may release updated iMacs alongside next-gen MacBook Pro notebooks in near future

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 09:36
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor


In addition to introducing new MacBook Pro notebooks, a new unsubstantiated rumor claims Apple this week may also release an updated iMac all-in-one desktop with a modified screen size.

Per DigiTimes, Apple may launch its new iMac desktop alongside new MacBook Pro models. The report said Apple “may make some changes over the screen size to allow panel cutting to reach its optimization.”

While a flurry of reports have surrounded the anticipated MacBook Pro update, little has been said about an iMac update. In fact, the last indication of an iMac refresh came from the same publication in December 2010, when it said that Apple could release its new iMac in the first half of 2011. That report said the new iMac would have a “new panel size and price point for the mainstream market.”

Apple’s iMac line of desktops were last updated in July 2010 with Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 processors and ATI Radeon graphics. The current lineup has a starting price of US$1,199.

In the article, DigiTimes added even more support to the belief that new MacBook Pros will launch before the end of February, likely this Thursday. The publication said that most IT malls in Taiwan do not have any MacBook Pro inventory in stock, but added that volume shipments of the new notebooks will not pick up “significantly” until March.

The MacBook Pro lineup is even more due for an update than the iMac, as Apple’s high-end notebooks have not seen an update since April 2010. The systems were updated to what were then Intel’s latest high-end Core i7, Core i5 and Core 2 Duo mobile processors.

Rumor: Next-Gen MacBook Pro units to feature fast solid-state drives, larger trackpads

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 04:05
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


A new rumor attributed to unnamed sources says the coming refresh of MacBook Pros will feature larger trackpads and boot from SSD, even on models equipped with a conventional hard disk drive.

Per Boy Genius Report, the “new laptops will contain glass trackpads that are even larger than the pads found on current-generation MacBook Pro models.”

It then adds that “next bit of information doesn’t quite make sense to us,” but describes an 8 to 16GB Solid State Drive being used as the Mac OS X startup volume even on base models, which will retain a regular hard drive as well.

Higher end models are said to use SSD exclusively, much like Apple’s existing MacBook Air line.

The advantage to using a hybrid SSD/HDD configuration, of course, is that the main benefit afforded by SSD is read speed, while its greatest drawback is expense per gigabyte of storage. SSD also has issues related to rewriting data as efficiently as conventional mechanical hard drives.

By combining both types of drives, Apple could provide rapid boot and “instant on” features currently available on the iPad and MacBook Air, while also providing large amounts of general storage for power users’ large documents.

The report also noted the new models are about a half pound (0.2 kg) lighter than existing models. It also describes five different SKUs, harmonizing with existing reports on the new models.

Kind of strange stuff but you never know.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple resets MacBook Pro ship times to 3-5 days, new models rumored to be on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 21st, 2011, 04:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor


Yes, you’d like the coolest new MacBook Pro.

And it may be just days away.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has bumped ship times for all US orders of its line of professional notebooks to three to five business days.

On Sunday, reports emerged that Apple had issued strict warnings to dealers not to open sealed pallet shipments that could arrive as early as Monday.

Further evidence that the secretive shipments could contain a significant update to Apple’s MacBook Pros came late Sunday when the company began delaying shipping times for online US orders of the notebooks from the usual 24 hour window to an estimate of three to five business days. Apple usually reserves this kind of across-the-board shipping delay for imminent new product releases.

Placeholder SKUs for new Apple-branded computers discovered Sunday in the Best Buy inventory system appeared to further corroborate the pending upgrade. Five models were listed on the electronics reseller’s Laptop Configuration tool ranging in price from US$1,199 to US$2,499.

Apple’s upgraded professional notebooks are expected to make the jump to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture and could also include subtle changes to the chassis design. According to one recent report, Apple may even roll out Intel’s new high-speed optical connector technology, dubbed Light Peak, with the new MacBook Pro notebooks.

Other rumors have stated that each new MacBook Pro will arrive with its very own unicorn.

This unicorn will sing your favorite show tunes, but is still learning the songs to the new Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical currently playing on Broadway.

But it’ll bang out a mean score from “Showboat” if you give it a chance…

Best Buy sales system listing 5 new MacBook Pro SKUs, additional data

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 21st, 2011, 04:18
Category: MacBook Pro, News


The new MacBook Pro you’re hankering for might be just around the corner.

Best Buy, one of Apple’s largest authorized resellers authorized, is currently listing this weekend five new stock keeping units for Mac notebooks at price points ranging from US$1,199 to US$2,499.

Per Engadget, the SKUs turned up in the specialty electronics reseller’s online Laptop Configuration tool, where they are listed as “New SKU” with availability of “Coming Soon.”

Although Best Buy’s inventory systems have been a less-than-precise indicator of Apple’s actual plans in the past, this weekend’s listings do provide specific pricing information that has yet to turn up elsewhere.

Specifically, the retailer’s configuration tool specifies that the forthcoming Apple notebooks will be priced at US$1,199, US$1,499, US$1,799, US$2,199 and US$2,499. Those price points could coincide nicely with previous reports that peg the new MacBook Pros to arrive in five retail configurations as opposed to the existing six.

Based on those reports and the new price points, it appears most likely that Apple will continue to offer two configurations of the 13-inch MacBooks (US$1,199 and US$1,499), a single 17-inch configuration (US$2,499, up from US$2,299), and consolidate the three current 15-inch configurations (US$1,799, US$1,999, and US$2,199) into two configurations (US$1,799 and US$2,199), shedding the US$1,999 15-inch configuration.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent suggests combined MagSafe power connector/data connector technology

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 17th, 2011, 06:08
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Patents


Ok, this could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week published a new patent application from Apple named “Magnetic Connector with Optical Signal Path.” Discovered by AppleInsider, the document describes a single cable that would provide both power and data to a mobile device, like a MacBook Pro, using a single cable.

Like Apple’s existing, patented MagSafe adapters, the new cable would allow for “easy disengagement” due to the use of magnets to attach and properly secure the cable.

The application notes that there are two major needs the portable computers must satisfy if the notebook is to serve as a proper desktop replacement. The first is the need for a power source, since modern batteries often cannot get through an entire workday, while the second is the ability to transfer data over a physical connection.

“Presently, satisfying these two requires at least two connections to the mobile device; one for power and one for data transmission,” the application reads. “But including two (or more) connectors increases cost and consume space, typically along the side of the mobile device. It also requires the user to make two separate connections, thus limiting the usefulness and desirability of the mobile computing format.”

Apple’s filing also notes that the use of two cables can clutter a user’s workspace and degrade the mobile computing experience. More cables also increase the likelihood of a user tripping over one and potentially damaging their computer.

“Thus, what is needed are circuits, apparatus, and methods that provide a power and data transfer system that can supply both power and data to a laptop or other mobile computing device,” the application states.

The application suggests the presence of a fiber optic line inside a connector that looks much like the existing MagSafe power connector found on its line of MacBooks. But it would include additional “pins” inside the connector to allow data transfer for multiple types of inputs.

Potential input methods listed by Apple include USB, fiber-optic, local area networking (LAN) cables, DVI video, and DisplayPort. Corresponding connectors for these devices would be included on the power and data adapter.

In addition, Apple’s proposed invention would allow separate external devices to communicate with one another via the power and data adapter. For example, two or more USB devices could communicate with each other and transfer data between one another over the adapter.

Like a similar patent awarded to Apple last fall, the application revealed this week could offer a glimpse into the company’s potential plans with Intel’s high-speed Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel aims to offer mobile devices bandwidth of 10Gbps, scaling up to 100GBps over the next decade, with its next-generation cable.

Apple has shown great interest in Light Peak and has been “pushing” the chipmaker to bring it to market. Light Peak would allow Apple to roll networking, display, and peripheral cables all into one master cable, much like is described in the latest patent application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple apparently unaffected by Sandy Bridge chipset bug, boosts notebook component orders

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Date: Wednesday, February 16th, 2011, 06:59
Category: MacBook Pro, News


In spite of much hubbub surrounding the error in Intel’s Sandy Bridge chipset, emerging evidence suggests that Apple has been largely unaffected by the gaffe.

Per DigiTimes, Apple’s notebook shipments are expected to “remain strong” in the first quarter of 2011. It noted that retail channel vendors indicated a widely publicized design flaw in the chipset accompanying Intel’s latest-generation Sandy Bridge processors “did not impact” Apple, and the company is expected to increase orders.

Apple was reportedly aided by the fact that it is slower in upgrading its products to the latest platform. The report said that Apple is still using Intel’s Calpella chips for “most” of its current models, allowing it to “completely” avoid the impact.

“The sources pointed out that because Apple’s products have high (average selling prices), even if the company is slow in upgrading its products to the latest platform, it will not see a significant impact on its pricing or gross margins,” the report said.

“However, for Hewlett-Packard (HP), Acer and Dell, which heavily depend on their economic scale, the new platform will help raise their ASPs and therefore, these makers will try to launch notebooks with new platforms as early as possible.”

Intel disclosed earlier this month that it discovered an error in its series 6 chipsets, dubbed Cougar Point, which causes the performance of serial ATA ports numbered 2 through 5 to degrade over time in extreme conditions. The issue applies to both mobile and desktop processors, and does not affect SATA ports 0 and 1.

Just a week after the error was revealed, Intel announced that it had resumed shipment of chipsets for Sandy Bridge-powered PC system configurations not impacted by the design flaw. The company also said the new, fixed version of its support chip would begin shipping for systems that relied on SATA ports 2 through 5 in mid-February. In addition, the company confirmed it will meet its deadline to begin shipping dual-core Sandy Bridge chips on Feb. 20.

Hopefully this’ll lead to something nifty in the next revision of Apple’s notebooks and we’ll keep you informed as details emerge.