Rumor: Apple may include Intel Sandy Bridge processors in near-term Mac Pro update

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:27
Category: Mac Pro, Processors, Rumor

Even if you’re hankering for a new iPad 3 or an updated MacBook Air, there’s always your Mac Pro tower to keep in mind.

Per The Inquirer, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn’t changed since the middle of 2010.

The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.

The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD’s high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel’s new Xeon chips.

However, sources famliar with the matter have said that Apple’s management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel to delay launch of Ivy Bridge processors by 8-10 weeks

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 08:19
Category: News, Processors

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You know, nobody really LIKES the person who tells them “better late than never”, even though that person tends to be right.

That being said, Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, sized at 22 nanometers and expected to appear in Apple’s updated Mac lineup, will become available eight to 10 weeks later than originally planned, one company official has said.

Per the Financial Times, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chairman of Intel China, revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that his company’s Ivy Bridge processors are now expected to go on sale in June. Those CPUs were originally planned to become available in April.

The apparent delay will allow Intel more time to manufacture the smaller, more complex chips. Maloney indicated that a later June launch was not prompted by a lack of demand.

The comments support a rumor from earlier this month that indicated Intel was forced to push back shipments of its Ivy Bridge processors to June. However, that same report claimed that a “small volume” of chips would be shipped in early April.

Earlier reports had suggested that Intel planned to debut a total of 25 new 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge processors at launch. They would include 17 desktop CPUs and 8 notebook processors.

Initial chips are expected to include models 3820QM, rumored to be priced at US$568, and 3720QM, US$378, both of which are potential candidates for an updated MacBook Pro.

Reports from late last year suggested Apple was planning to launch its updated MacBook Pro lineup in the second quarter of 2012>. It was said the Ivy Bridge-powered notebooks would feature a Retina Display-quality screen resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, exactly twice that of the 1,440-by-900 display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Retina Display MacBook Pros would be possible with Ivy Bridge because Intel’s next-generation chip architecture will bring support for 4K resolution. That gives Apple and other PC makers the option to build a display that is 4,096 pixels across, at a resolution more than twice that of 1080p.

The new Ivy Bridge notebook processors will feature Intel HD Graphics 4000 architecture. High-end MacBook Pros with dedicated graphics are rumored to be powered by Nvidia in Apple’s 2012 lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tipsters reveal hints as to why AMD “Llano” processor never came to MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

If you wondered as to where the next-gen AMD processors might be on your MacBook Air, there’s a reason for that too.

According to Forbes, former AMD employees revealed that Apple gave its “Llano” chip a “close look” for a new MacBook Air model last year, but ultimately decided not to go with the processor because too many of its parts were faulty.

AMD has been through several reinventions in recent years in a quest to find a niche to call its own. The company was an early competitor to chip giant Intel, but it has struggled to keep up pace with its rival as of late.

Brian Caulfield reports that new “fusion” processors from AMD had a shot at upstaging Intel by making their way into Apple’s popular MacBook Air notebook for last year’s refresh. People familiar with the matter indicated that Apple had given the “Llano” processor, which combined the CPU and GPU into one part, serious consideration for use in its thin-and-light portable.

However, a former employee indicated that AMD was unable to get early working samples of the chip to Apple on time, though tipsters disagreed on exactly how close the company was to delivering the chip, with one claiming that AMD “had it.” According to the report, too many of the parts ended up being faulty and AMD lost the deal.

Sources also said AMD had proposed a low-power processor named “Brazos” for a revamp of the Apple TV box, but Apple declined to go with the option. “Brazos” went on to make inroads in the netbook industry and reportedly kept the company afloat.

“If Brazos had been killed, AMD wouldn’t be in business,” one former employee said.

A separate report from late last year also claimed that Apple had considered the AMD “Llano” option “plan A” for its MacBook Air, but AMD was said to have “dropped the ball” at the last minute.

Apple released the Thunderbolt MacBook Air last July with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors powering the notebooks. The machines became an instant success and reportedly jumped to 28 percent of the company’s notebook shipments just months after they were released.

Intel could release Ivy Bridge-based Xeon chips in spring, provide new processor offerings for Mac Pro lineup

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Date: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, 05:48
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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The upcoming Mac Pro units could get that much niftier, even with a slightly older technology.

Per DigiTimes, Intel’s Xeon E5 launch early this year could be matched by a handful of Ivy Bridge-based models soon after based on a tentative roadmap. After releasing 18 E5 chips based on the current Sandy Bridge architecture, Intel would have 11 Xeons arrive in the spring based on the 2012 design. Billed as Ivy Bridge-H2, these would include Xeon E3 chips like the E3-1290v2 in bulk costs of US$189 to US$884 as well as E5s from US$192 to US$1,440, one of which would be the E5-2470.

The exact specifications of the Ivy Bridge models aren’t apparent. The Sandy Bridge E5 chips were already known to range from a 1.8GHz quad-core processor to 3.1GHz in eight-core varieties.

If sustained, the Xeon lineup could create dilemmas for workstations like the possible Mac Pro refresh. It may push Apple and others into either picking Sandy Bridge models and going for a slightly older but wider range, choosing from a limited Ivy Bridge range, or having to split the computer lineup between the two Intel architectures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel Ivy Bridge-equipped Mac notebooks to launch April 8th, 2012, sport ample new features

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 13:52
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Processors, Rumor

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It’s kind of neat when the rumors point towards a specific date.

Per DigiTimes, Intel is rumored to release a total of 25 new 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge processors on April 8, 2012, signaling a potential launch window for Apple’s next generation of Macs.

Intel will release 17 desktop CPUs and 8 notebook Ivy Bridge processors in early April according to the article. The initial chips are said to include models 3820QM and 3720QM, priced at US$568 and US$378, respectively, which could be candidates for Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup.

The notebook Ivy Bridge processors will feature the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 architecture. Intel’s M-Series lineup is expected to have nominal thermal design power of between 35 watts and 55 watts.

Set for a “later” launch, according to sources, are the Core i7-3667U and Core i5-3427U processors, intended for Intel’s Ultrabook lineup. Those processors would also be possible candidates for Apple’s own thin-and-light notebook, the MacBook Air.

Earlier reports have said the i7-3667U processor will be clocked at 2GHz, and can overclock to 3.2GHz in single-core mode, while the i5-3427U will run at 1.8GHz and overclock to 2.8GHz in single-core mode. Both models are said to feature a graphics processor clocked at 350MHz that can run as high as 1150MHz.

The rumored April 8 launch date for the first Ivy Bridge processors is slightly earlier than what a leaked roadmap from Intel showed earlier this month. Those documents showed a tentative launch date of May 2012 for the new chip platform.

Recent reports have pegged a MacBook Pro update from Apple to arrive in the second quarter of calendar 2012, a timeframe that would fit with the April debut of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The new MacBook Pros are rumored to feature a redesigned look with new high-resolution 2,880-by-1,800 Retina Display screens.

Retina Display MacBook Pros would be possible with Ivy Bridge because the next-generation architecture will bring support for 4K resolution. That gives Apple and other PC makers the option to build a display that is 4,096 pixels across.

For high-end MacBook Pro models with dedicated graphics cards, one report from November claimed Apple will switch to Nvidia for its 2012 notebooks. The last MacBook Pro models to feature Nvidia graphics arrived in 2010.

As for the MacBook Air, Apple is expected to expand the lineup and add a 15-inch model. Currently, its ultraportable notebook is available with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches.

Cool stuff if it’s true. Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Rumor: Apple developing specialized CPUs for HDTV units

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 09:17
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

When in doubt, roll your own.

Per DigiTimes, rather than utilize off-the-shelf chips from a company such as Intel, Apple is expected to use its own custom-built chips like in the iPhone and iPad for its anticipated television set.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Siliconware Precision Industries are three companies expected to bid on orders with Apple. The companies could build custom ARM-based chips to power an Apple television, much like the A4 CPU, first released in the iPad in 2010, is found in the current Apple TV set-top box.

Apple is said to have already signed a foundry agreement with TSMC earlier this year, utilizing its 28nm and 20nm process technologies. That deal was said to be for next-generation “A6″ and “A7″ processors for the iPhone and iPad, but it’s possible an Apple television could also utilize the advanced chips.

In addition to featuring custom chips, the Apple television is also expected to be assembled by Foxconn Electronics, industry sources reportedly said. Foxconn already builds most of Apple’s devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

The report said Apple is expected to finalize the hardware standards for its television set at the end of the second quarter of 2012. After that, it will place orders for customized chips and other components directly with its contract manufacturers. That’s the same approach Apple uses to build its iPad and iPhone lineups.

The Taiwan electronics industry publication once again pegged the Apple television for launch by the end of 2012. On Tuesday, DigiTimes also said that suppliers are expected to begin preparing components for the anticipated HDTV in the first quarter of 2012, and that it will have screen sizes of 32 and 37 inches.

Earlier reports also claimed that Apple will buy chips from Samsung for its television set, while Sharp is expected to manufacture displays. As for content, analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said earlier Wednesday that Apple is hoping to offer Internet-based content subscriptions that will allow customers to choose their own custom channel lineups, offering an experience very different from current cable and satellite plans.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Ivy Bridge roadmap leaked, new processors en route for April, May of 2012

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Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 10:33
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Processors

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Ivy Bridge for your Mac notebook…it’s en route.

Per a leaked roadmap over at VR-Zone, Intel’s next generation mobile processors, called Ivy Bridge, could open the door to quad-core processors in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and bring significantly faster graphics and new OpenCL capabilities to the MacBook Air. Ivy Bridge will also support ultra high resolution displays and Intel has committed to Thunderbolt support alongside USB 3.0 in the platform.



The roadmap, which offers the processors as arriving in April and May of 2012, includes a wide range of processors with Thermal Design Power (TDP) ranging from 17W to 55W. The TDP tends to be the limiting factor in the size of Apple’s notebook designs. Apple presently uses 17W processors in the MacBook Air designs and 35W-45W processors in the MacBook Pro. The new processors will include the improved Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics chipset.

The 35W-45W (MacBook Pro) processors range from Dual Core 2.6GHz to 2.9GHz with single core turbo speeds of up to 3.6GHz, while the 17W (MacBook Air) processors range from Dual Core 1.8GHz to 2.0GHz with single core turbo speeds of up to 2.8-3.2GHz.

Apple’s choice of processors may depend on how dramatically it redesigns the MacBook Pro next year. Rumors have persisted that Apple is working on ultra-thin models that may represent a complete overhaul of some of the MacBook Pro models, making them more Air-like in design. The article notes that the TDPs on these processors are programmable, so Apple may be able to reduce their TDPs at the expense of processor speed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel Ivy Bridge details leaked, interesting new specs and support on horizon

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Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:05
Category: News, Processors, Rumor

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If you like Intel’s current Sandy Bridge architecture, then the leaked details of the company’s Ivy Bridge architecture should give you a warm, snuggly feeling inside.

Per X-Bit Labs and Macworld UK, according to information reported by X-bit Labs, a lineup of Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors will be available in Q2 2012. The processors will all be quad core, except one economy Core i5 processor. The rest of the Core i5s reportedly have a 6MB cache and speeds ranging from 2.7GHz to 3.4GHz. The Core i7 lineup has 8MB cache, and clock speeds from 2.5GHz to 3.5GHz.

The Ivy Bridge processors will support PCIe 3.0 x16, and come with native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. It will be up to hardware manufacturers to determine which of those slot and port technologies individual systems will include, though.

The most notable difference between the “Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge” processors is that Intel is building the next generation CPUs using 22nm architecture–a nearly 30 percent drop in size from the existing 32nm chips. Good things come in small packages, though, so there are some benefits that come with the smaller processors.

First, Ivy Bridge CPUs will consume less power. That translates to lower energy costs, and lower heat output, which snowballs the lower energy costs because less power is then required to cool the system as well.

Second, the smaller central processor makes more room for the integrated graphics chip, allowing Intel to boost the graphics processing capabilities. The Ivy Bridge graphics capabilities are estimated to be up to 60 percent faster, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11.

The bad news is that Ivy Bridge is an incremental bump from the Sandy Bridge processors available today and might not offer a blazing improvement over the current Sandy Bridge architecture.

The good news is that the Ivy Bridge processors will work with existing Sandy Bridge motherboards. So, if you do get a new system now with a Sandy Bridge CPU, you will have an upgrade path available, and won’t be painting yourself into a corner.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins manufacturing trial run of A6 processor, looks for 2012 launch date

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Date: Friday, August 12th, 2011, 09:59
Category: iPad, News, Processors

It’s pretty simple: If another person has another rumor story about the iPhone 5 being released in either September or October, they’ll be justly pummeled about the head and shoulders with a frozen badger.

That seems fair.

In other news, Taiwan Economic News, which cited sources close to the story, reported Friday that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has started trial production of the A6 in cooperation with Apple. Production design is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012, while the chip will be publicly unveiled, likely in a third-generation iPad, no earlier than the second quarter of 2012.

If accurate, the report could quash persistent speculation that Apple plans to launch a third-generation iPad later this year, assuming such a device would run the next-generation A6 processor.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip.

Trial manufacturing of the A6 processor was originally claimed by industry sources to have begun in July, when it was also indicated the chips would make their way into devices in 2012. Both reports have pegged TSMC as the manufacturer, lending credence to rumors that Apple is looking to move away from Samsung, which has built its A4 and A5 processors.

Samsung and Apple are currently engaged in a fierce legal battle that recently led sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be banned in both Europe and Australia. Apple has accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of its popular iPhone and iPad products, while Samsung has responded in kind with its own patent infringement lawsuit.

Friday’s report said sources indicated TSMC has been capable of producing processors for Apple, but the manufacturer was held back by limited production lines. TSMC is also a customer of Nvidia and Qualcomm.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel lists three new processors that could find their way into next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 05:56
Category: MacBook Air, News, Processors

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With everything that’s being said about Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air, it’s time to meet the potential processors for the notebook.

Per CNET, Intel has added three new high efficiency Sandy Bridge CPUs to its product catalog, likely representing the chips Apple will use in its next refresh of the light and thin MacBook Air.

The ULV (ultra low voltage) parts consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, as opposed to the mainstream Sandy Bridge chips Apple uses in its full size MacBook Pro lineup.

The standard Sandy Bridge chips in Apple’s Pro notebooks dissipate 25 to 35 watts, making them too hot (and too battery taxing) to use in the considerably thinner Air machines.

The new lineup consists of three part numbers:
- Core i7-2677M: dual cores running at 1.8 GHz (peaking to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$317

- Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$289

- Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for US$250

Intel sees a big market for notebooks similar to Apple’s MacBook Air, which the chipmaker calls “ultrabooks.” When Apple first released the Air, it was criticized for not being thin enough and giving up too many features while using a full sized keyboard.

Apple has since made the Air lineup thinner and reduced the price while retaining a full size keyboard and moving exclusively to SSD storage, which supports very fast booting, wake and program launching.

The report cited analyst Doug Freedman of Gleacher & Company, who refers to machines like the Mac Book Air as “SSD notebooks,” as commenting that “In the 4-year lifespan of [Apple's] iconic MacBook Air, units sold as a percentage of its total notebook supply was 8 percent in 2008, 9 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2010 to an estimated 48 percent in 2011.”

“We expect total notebook SSD penetration at a conservative 5 percent in 2011 growing to 30 percent in 2014,” Freedman stated. He noted that Intel is planning to bundle its own SSD storage devices with its CPUs to sell PC makers packages of components, something the company already does with CPUs and chipsets.

However, Apple introduced SSD options for its latest MacBook Airs using specialized components rather than conventional SSDs built to fill the same space as a conventional notebook hard drive, such as those built by Intel. That has enabled the company to further reduce weight and thickness in the Air designs.

If you have any thoughts on the next-gen MacBook Air, let us know what you think in the comments.