Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to receive hard drive, RAM capacity boosts

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:39
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

There may be yet another reason to hanker after Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air notebook.

Per AppleInsider, the new MacBook Air may up the value proposition for customers through increases to the notebook’s standard memory and storage components, in addition to the latest ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge mobile chips, should checks within the company’s supply chain prove accurate.

In a recent note, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his industry checks suggest Apple is no longer placing orders MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM. Instead, those checks indicate that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will include 4GB of RAM as standard, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion, also due to ship on each model.

Similarly, Kuo cited the same checks in suggesting that Airs with just 64GB solid-state-drives may go away in favor of Apple shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard, given that the bulk of Apple’s shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. Contrary to some reports, however, the analyst and proven insider said his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won’t be soldered to the logic board.

In terms of which Sandy Bridge CPUs Apple has chosen for the Air, Kuo pointed to three specific Intel ultra-low-voltage chips (comparison chart) that launched just last month as prime candidates based on his checks: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). Each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.

While these details can’t currently be corroborated, Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple’s future hardware designs. For instance, he was the first to accurately predicted the launch of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air and iPod touch with camera last year, and this year followed up with accurate specifications for the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 production, among other products.

The redesigned MacBook Air launched last October with a thinner and lighter design and a new 11.6-inch model with a US$999 entry level price. The major changes, including the adoption of only solid-state flash hard drives, took the MacBook Air from being a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup to one of its hottest selling Macs.

In particular, the sub-US$1,000 11.6-inch MacBook Air was said to be a major hit with consumers for both its price and lightweight design. In the first quarter of availability at the end of 2010, Apple shipped more than a million of the new MacBook Airs, making it one of the company’s most successful Mac product launches ever.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have something you’d like to see on the upcoming MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

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