Rumor: Flextronics to handle U.S. assembly of redesigned Mac Pro

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Date: Thursday, June 13th, 2013, 06:02
Category: Uncategorized

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Some details have surfaced as to which outfit will construct the upcoming Mac Pro tower.

Per Economic Daily News and Macotakara, the desktop will reportedly be built in U.S. facilities run by Singapore-based manufacturer Flextronics.

It was said that the information was shared by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans.

The official Flextronics website reveals that the company already has facilities in a number of locations across the U.S., including Texas, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina. The report did not indicate which U.S.-based Flextronics facility will handle assembly of the new Mac Pro.

“Our United States teams offer a wide spectrum of capabilities, including electrical and mechanical design and the manufacturing of flexible and rigid printed circuit boards and printed circuit board assemblies, specialty coated thin film flexible materials, backplanes, box-build, cable assemblies, camera modules and assembly,” the site reads. “Our facilities also have clean room capabilities, functional and reliability testing, new product introduction support, design for manufacturing, supply chain management and logistics.”

The transition to Flextronics, if true, would mean that Foxconn will no longer be responsible for manufacturing the Mac Pro. But because Apple’s high-end desktop is geared toward a small market, the shift is not expected to have a major effect on Foxconn, which operates largely out of China.

Though Apple will build its new Mac Pro in the U.S., the company is not expected to bring assembly of any of its MacBook lines to America. EDN noted that most of the supply chain remains overseas, which would make it logistically difficult to build large numbers of Macs stateside.

Apple’s new MacBook Air units are reportedly being assembled by Quanta Computer, which specializes in laptop construction. Though Quanta does have some facilities in the U.S., it’s not expected to begin building MacBooks domestically.

The dramatically redesigned Mac Pro’s feature list includes graphical support capable of driving three 4K-resolution displays and is slated to arrive later this year with Intel Xeon processors, PCI Express flash storage, and Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit completes Haswell-based MacBook Air teardown, finds changes in battery, SSD, other modules

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 06:21
Category: Uncategorized

The Haswell-based MacBook Air is out, and in their usual fine style, the ubergeeks at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the notebook. Per AppleInsider, the updated notebook features minor changes seen in battery size, the SSD module and integrated graphics, among others.

Most notable among the hardware revisions is an enlarged battery, which moves from a 7.3V 6700mAh pack to a 7.6V 7150mAh unit. The cells still dominate the Air’s innards.


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Apple touts the new 13-inch model will last 12 hours on a charge, but the battery is not thought to be the main contributor to that spec buff. Instead, the Air uses Intel’s Haswell ULT silicon, which offers huge decreases in power consumption while serving up snappier performance.

With Haswell, Intel moved to its next-generation integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 5000, which doesn’t require a separate board.

Adding to the updated component list is a new SSD module from Samsung, which is smaller than similar parts used in previous MacBook Air iterations. With the new size comes new technology, as the latest SSD unit uses a PCIe bus rather than SATA, a first for Mac. PCIe can achieve rates of up to 800MB/s, while SATA is limited to about 600MB/s.

The new Air is also the first to employ the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, which required the computer’s wireless card to be updated. Apple launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models to take advantage of the new standard, and is planning on incorporating the technology into future Macs as they roll out.

The only change made to the MacBook Air’s chassis is a hole to accommodate the addition of a second internal microphone used for sound cancellation duties.

Other smaller tweaks include a redesigned heat sink clamp, repositioned speaker cabling and a revamped MagSafe 2 board that no longer holds a socket for the laptop’s iSight camera.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new MacBook Air and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Haswell-based MacBook Air sports record-breaking SSD benchmark test results, PCIe bus cited

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 07:52
Category: Uncategorized

If you were considering snagging a brand new, just-released MacBook Air notebook, you’re going to like this.

Per 9to5Mac and French web site MacBidouille, Apple’s new Haswell-powered MacBook Airs produced SSD read and write speeds so fast in bench tests that they initially thought it must have been a bug in their test software. A second run in different software revealed that, no, the latest Airs really do offer read & write speeds higher than the maximum possible with SATA 3.

The secret is that Apple is using the same PCIe-based SSDs in the latest MacBook Air as they announced for the new Mac Pro …

On the storage front, Apple officially leads the charge with the move to PCIe based SSDs. The upcoming Mac Pro, as well as the new MacBook Airs both use PCIe based SSDs instead of SATA drives. A quick look at OS X’s system profiler reveals a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface, capable of 1GB/s in each direction.

PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is the standard already used in the ExpressCard slot used in some notebooks, and offers a direct link to the motherboard without the bottleneck created by a SATA interface (SATA 3 tops out at 600MB/s).

A series of tests over on AnandTech confirmed MacBidouille‘s results, with even higher speeds seen on larger file transfers, describing it as the first time PCIe storage has been seen in a mainstream consumer device.

While Apple’s focus for the new CPU was better battery-life rather than faster speed, tests show that the processor speeds are 3-8% faster than the previous models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen Mac Pro size/scale revealed via hand picture

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 06:24
Category: Uncategorized

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, this one from Electronista regarding Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro computer says even more…


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Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Uncategorized

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers first look at next-gen Mac Pro at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:47
Category: Uncategorized

The new Mac Pro is en route.

And it’s really, really, awesomely black.

Per Macworld, Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller unveiled the company’s upcoming Mac Pro during a “sneak peek” at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

The upcoming new desktop workstation features a sleek, cylindrical design that’s a stark contrast to the mammoth, roomy aluminum tower initially introduced with the PowerPC-based Power Mac G5 in 2003, and revised with the release of the Intel-based Mac Pro in 2006. Apple didn’t announce a formal ship date, stating that the new Mac Pro will ship later this year, nor did it talk about pricing or specific models. It will be designed and constructed in the United States.


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The new 9.9-inch tall Mac Pro case is about one-eighth the size of the Mac Pro tower and features a handle for carrying, and a motion sensor lights up to show the I/O ports. The new design, according to Schiller, is based around a “unified thermal core” to help keep the machine cool.

The unit will feature a Xeon E5 processor, which is based on Intel’s Haswell microarchitecture and introduced by the company last April. Configuration with 12-cores will be available, and all Mac Pros will use third-generation PCI Express architecture. Apple is also using 1866MHz ECC DDR3 RAM.

Schiller also went to great lengths to emphasize the new Mac Pro’s graphics performance. The machine will have dual AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs, and be able to run three 4K displays at one time. Apple says the new Mac Pro’s graphics performance is 2.5 times faster than its predecessor.

The Mac Pro is designed for speed, and Apple is outfitting the machine with PCIe-based flash memory, not traditional SATA hard drives or solid-state drives. Apple touts speeds of 1.25 GBps for reads and 1.0 GBps for writes.

The computer will include the following ports:
- Audio out

- Headphone jack

- Four USB 3 ports

- Six Thunderbolt 2 ports

- Two gigabit Ethernet ports

- HDMI out

- Power

The most remarkable change with the Mac Pro is the elimination of expansion slots. The previous Mac Pro had a pair of 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 slots and a pair of 4-lane PCI Express 2.0 slots. For current owners who have filled their Mac Pro’s slots and still need to use their cards, you’ll have to invest in an external Thunderbolt expansion chassis that will house expansion cards and connect to the new Mac Pro via Thunderbolt.

During the new Mac Pro presentation, there was no visual evidence of an optical drive. With the elimination of the optical drive from the Mac mini, iMac, MacBook Air, and Retina MacBook Pro computers.

Each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six daisy-shained devices. With six Thunderbotl 2 ports, the Mac Pro can support up to 36 Thunderbolt peripherals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel announces Thunderbolt 2 protocol, looks toward 2013 launch

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Date: Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 06:33
Category: Uncategorized

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This could be really, really sexy.

Per AppleInsider, Intel on Tuesday finally put a name to its next-generation Thunderbolt protocol as “Thunderbolt 2,” with the newly dubbed standard doubling the throughput of its predecessor while remaining backward compatible.

Previously referred to by its codename “Falcon Ridge,” Thunderbolt 2 will boast a bandwidth of 20Gbps, which Intel said is good enough for the simultaneous transfer and display of 4K “Ultra HD” video.

To double the speed, Intel is using a new controller chip that combines the first generation Thunderbolt’s 10Gpbs uni-directional channels into a single 20Gbps bi-directional channel. In addition, Thunderbolt 2 will carry support for DisplayPort 1.2, enabling video streaming to one 4K monitor, or dual QHD displays.

Because the next-generation protocol is, in essence, a modified controller chip, Thunderbolt 2 requires no new cables or accessory hardware, meaning it will be completely backward compatible with existing Thunderbolt products.

While Thunderbolt has yet to see wide adoption outside of Apple’s Mac lineup, Intel claims 30 PCs and motherboards now use the I/O tech. That’s in addition to the 80 peripherals and accessories that made their way to market since Thunderbolt first debuted with Apple’s late-2011 Mac lineup.

Despite being marketed as a cutting-edge interconnect technology targeting professionals in the video field, Apple still does not offer Thunderbolt in its Mac Pro tower.

In a report last week, Intel stated that it plans to extend the standard’s reach beyond the few product that currently use the tech, and has up to now focused on quality over quantity.

The chip maker has yet to nail down a specific date on Thunderbolt 2′s release, but said it should be in production by the end of 2013, with a ramp into 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises store policies, now offers iPhone 5 display repairs for $149

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Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, 06:29
Category: Uncategorized

You’ll soon be able to have your iPhone 5 screen replaced at assorted Apple Store locations for US$149, with or without AppleCare+.

Per MacRumors, changes to Apple’s repair policies first surfaced last month, where a town hall session revealed that Apple would begin in-house repairs of displays in June in an effort to save approximately US$1 billion per year.

The site heard from a tipster this morning that the new repair policy had been implemented and the changes have since been confirmed in a forum post from iPhone repair site Quick iFix. The repairs are available for cracked displays as well as screens that experience multitouch issues.

Quick iFix notes that Apple’s US$149 repair cost is competitive, causing the site to change its own repair costs. Quick iFix charged US$174.99 for a display replacement in early May, but began offering repairs for US$139.99 a few days later.

Apple’s new display repairs are in line with AppleCare+ pricing, which costs US$99 up front and then US$49 for each replacement. The repair service is a more affordable alternative for iPhone users who opted not to purchase AppleCare+, as iPhone replacement previously retailed for US$229.

Apple is expected to roll out additional in-house repair options in July, offering repairs of the iPhone’s camera, sleep/wake buttons, and logic boards. Additional changes to AppleCare are also reportedly in the works, with Apple rumored to be switching to a subscription based plan tied to customers rather than individual devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Updated Retina Display MacBook Pro with 1080p camera, MacBook Air with improved microphone expected at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:12
Category: Uncategorized

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities listed his forecast for MacBook Pro and Air updates expected at WWDC. Apple’s annual developer-centric conference begins on June 10th with a keynote. The biggest change is Apple will move to Intel’s Haswell processors. These chips dramatically reduce power consumption, which in turn could allow Apple to need fewer batteries in the Retina MacBook Pros:

“We expect the new MacBook, featuring an upgrade to Intel’s (US) Haswell processor, will be in the spotlight for Apple at the upcoming WWDC from June 10. Along with the new processor, we expect the following modifications to each product line:

Retina MacBook Pro to be slimmer slightly, along with a camera upgrade. We expect the 13” Retina MacBook Pro will have a slightly slimmer form factor for increasing its portability. Also, we think the camera spec will be upgraded from HD to full HD. This will improve Facetime and video conference quality in the high resolution Retina display.”

The 1080P camera would match the capabilities of the rear-cameras in recent iOS hardware, but this would represent the first time in which Apple shipped a 1080p-capable front-facing sensor.

If Apple does choose to keep the same batteries and size of the Retina MacBook Pro, the new Haswell chips could push battery life up over 10 hours.

As for the MacBook Air, at least one improvement is expected by Kuo:

“MacBook Air to share dual built-in microphone design of Retina MacBook Pro. We forecast that this year’s new MacBook Air model will also have dual built-in microphones as a result of positive feedback on this feature in Retina MacBook Pro, which delivers clear voice quality on Facetime and VoIP service.”

Apple previously noted that the dual-microphone setup is ideal for voice apps like the included Dictation function.

Kuo expects the older, non-Retina MacBook Pros to freeze and be taken out of the spotlight, much like the iPod Classic. The computer would continue to be sold but with the current Ivy Bridge processors, optical drive slots, and high-capacity hard drives.

The report also notes that MacBooks in general are not immune from the overall global slowdown in PC purchasing caused by the iPad and other tablet cannibalization. The expectation is that 2013 will see 12M units sold, off 1.6M from 2012′s 13.6M total.

Finally, Kuo notes that Apple’s move away from optical and hard drive based storage continues to shift orders to SSD producers:

SSD to be mainstream storage solution for MacBook. We estimate the market share of MacBook with SSD to rise from 45% in 2012 to 64% in 2013, far ahead of the industry’s 15-20%. We also expect SSD penetration to continue to trend up, with SSD eventually replacing conventional hard disk drive and optical disc drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPad 5 component image points toward thinner, lighter design

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Date: Friday, May 31st, 2013, 08:45
Category: Uncategorized

It’s a leaked component shot, but it might say something about the design of the next-gen iPad.

Per AppleInsider and Apple.pro, a new image has emerged that shows what looks to be a full-size fifth-generation iPad’s front panel, again showing design cues taken from the iPad mini.


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The image shows the rear side of what appears to be the front casing for an as-yet-unreleased iPad 5. The panel bears all of the holes and markings that typify Apple’s tablets — including a hole for the Home button and FaceTime camera — and the connector for the touchscreen component.

The panel bears the same thin bezel seen with Apple’s iPad mini, which observers expect will serve as the design guidepost for the next full-size iPad. Images and video of potential iPad 5 cases have borne the same design cues, with a thinner overall body.

The next full-size iPad is expected to retain the screen size of its predecessors, if only to application development for the device easy. Recent rumors suggest that Apple may add a centered rear microphone to the device to help in audio recording.

The rumored new iPad’s thinner bezels are said to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner. The new iPad, new iPad mini, and the next generation of iPhones and iPods are all expected to arrive some time in the fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.