Teardown of late-2010 MacBook Air finds six battery cells, other new features

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Date: Friday, October 22nd, 2010, 06:42
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

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Ok, now this is interesting.

True to form, the cool cats at iFixit performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest instant-on, 11.6″ MacBook Air and found now less than six separate lithium-polymer battery cells.

The internal components are slightly different from those found in the 13.3″ model, a prototype of which was spotted before the device was even revealed on Wednesday. That larger MacBook Air has four separate batteries, which are bigger and provide up to 7 hours of active battery life.



In its teardown, the solutions provider found that the onboard 64GB of flash storage easily disconnects from the logic board, but the part is completely custom, meaning an off-the shelf part cannot be used to replace it.

The unique 64GB of onboard memory is made up of six main chips (four 16GB flash memory chips and a solid state drive controller from Toshiba), and a Micron OKA17 D9HSJ DDR DRAM cache. The proprietary solid state drive is just 2.45 mm thick and weighs 10 grams, while the previous MacBook Air’s hard disk drive was 5.12 mm thick and weighed 45 grams.

The new MacBook Air also uses the same Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip found on the current MacBook Pros. However, to fit into the tiny frame of the MacBook Air, it comes in a different form factor.

All of the cooling of the new notebook is accomplished with a single, small internal fan. Ribbon cable connection points found inside were also discovered to have epoxy on them that acts as an insulator, perhaps to prevent issues if their protective plastic wears out over time.

Included on the logic board are the MacBook Air’s Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, and 2GB of Elpida J1108EFBG RAM. Just as with MacBook Air models, the RAM is soldered to the logic board, making it non-upgradable.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and have any impressions of it, let us know.

Media Event: Apple releases updated MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Aperture 3.1, iLife ’11, Pro Kit refinements and FaceTime for Mac OS X

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Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 19:05
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Proving good on a good numbers of the rumors surrounding the event, Apple offered a slew of goodies at its October 20th announcements including an updated MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air and a slew of software goodies.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple surprised its audience by releasing a faster build-to-order MacBook Pro. For an additional US$200, customers can upgrade the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro to a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor from a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 chip. The same upgrade is also available for the sole 2.53GHz 17-inch model for a US$400 premium. An upgrade on that model to a 2.66GHz Core i7 remains, priced at US$200.

In addition, Apple on Wednesday released a number of software updates related to the release of the new MacBook Air models, as well as the iLife ’11 suite. Those who pick up the newly released MacBook Air have Software Update 1.0, a 368KB download available via Mac OS X’s Software Update function, already available for them.

The update resolves an issue where the system becomes unresponsive while playing a movie trailer in iMovie. It also fixes a problem where the system becomes unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display is connected. It is recommended for all late-2010 MacBook Air models.

During the event, Apple also released Aperture 3.1, a 357.55MB download that improves overall stability and performance, and also addresses compatibility with the newly release iLife ’11 suite.

Fixes and changes include the following:
- Performance when opening large libraries.

- Performance when exporting heavily-adjusted images.

- Importing iPhoto Libraries.

- Relinking to referenced images after importing an iPhoto Library.

- Importing photos and videos from iPhone or iPad.

- Upgrading libraries with images containing Spot & Patch adjustments.

- Duplicate detection of audio and video files.

- Face detection on RAW+JPEG pairs.

- Rendering of thumbnails used in Faces view.

- Rendering of images scaled to below 100% in Viewer.

- Image quality on straightened images.

- Applying Red Eye correction.

- Rendering thumbnails when reprocessing masters.

- Searching libraries containing a large number of keywords.

- Applying photos to GPS track paths.

- Export of GPS data when using Export Metadata command.

- Handling of color profiles in Print dialog when using Loupe.

- Applying and removing slideshow Photo Effects.

- Slideshows containing video clips.

- Tethered capture.

- Library database reliability.

- Library repair.

- Updating vaults.

During the media event, Apple also issued ProKit 6.0 for Snow Leopard. The 13.5MB downloadadds the following fixes and changes to Apple’s professional applications:
- Improves reliability for browsing iPhoto libraries in Aperture.

- Addresses cosmetic issue with appearance of disclosure triangles in Aperture.

- Fixes a problem in Logic Pro and MainStage where numeric parameters display incorrect information.

The update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express, Soundtrack, Logic Studio, Logic Pro, MainStage, WaveBurner and Logic Express.

The highlight of the event came when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, which Jobs came after the company asked itself “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” The company then announced the release two new MacBook Airs with 11.6″ and 13.3″ screens, instant-on capabilities, starting at just $999 which are now available.

The new MacBook Air has no optical drive and no hard drive, which allows instant-on capabilities. The MacBook Air has memory up to two times faster that is more reliable and 90% smaller and lighter, Jobs said.

Both models feature a forward-facing FaceTime camera, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics.

The new 13″ model boasts a 7 hour of battery life with 30 days of standby time and features a full-size keyboard and a full-size glass trackpad as well. The 13.3″ display is 1440-by-900 pixels, and the model weighs just 2.9 pounds.

The larger model starts at US$1,299 for 128GB of storage with a 1.86GHZ processor. Doubling the storage to 256GB is US$1,599.

The 11″ model has a display resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It’s just as thin, but is even lighter, at just 2.3 pounds.

The low-end model has a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo and 64GB of storage for US$999. a higher-end model with a 128GB drive retails for US$1,199.

Memory, rather than being enclosed in a solid state drive, is situated directly on the motherboard, allowing Apple to save space within the notebook. Jobs showed the inside of the MacBook Air, demonstrating that most of the space inside is used for the batteries.

The new MacBook Air measures an incredibly thin 0.11″ at its thinnest point and 0.68″ at its thickest, and weighs just 2.3 pounds for the 11″ model and 2.9 pounds for the 13″. Like the iPad, MacBook Air was designed from the ground up to use flash storage exclusively.

Along with the full-sized keyboard, as well as the standard Multi-Touch trackpad found on Apple’s MacBook Pro, the unit also include built-in FaceTime camera for communication with iOS-based devices as well as other Macs.

Full specs include the following:
Size and weight
Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
Width: 11.8″ (29.95 cm)
Depth: 7.56″ (19.2 cm)
Weight: 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)

Processor and memory:
- 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache; or optional 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache.

- 800MHz frontside bus.

- 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM onboard (4GB maximum).

Storage:
- 64GB

- 128GB

Display:
11.6″ (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors

Supported resolutions:
1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, 1280 by 720, 1024 by 576 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio

Graphics and video support:
- Mini DisplayPort

- Pure digital video output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- HDMI output using a third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (sold separately)

- NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main
memory

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors

- FaceTime camera

Keyboard and trackpad:
- Full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)

- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities

Peripheral connections:
- USB 2.0

- Mini DisplayPort

- MagSafe

- USB 2.0

- Headphone

- Microphone

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Omnidirectional microphone

- Headphone minijack

- Support for Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic

Communications:
- AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking4 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology

- Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

Battery and power:
- Built-in 35-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 45W MagSafe power adapter with cable management system

- MagSafe power port

Environmental:
Per Apple, the MacBook Air achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements. Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Pricing & Availability:

The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are immediately available through the Apple Store at apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 1.4 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $999 (US) with a 128GB model for US$1,199 (US).

The 1.86 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US) with a 256GB model for US$1,599 (US).

Configure-to-order options and accessories include faster processors, 4GB of memory, MacBook Air SuperDrive and a USB Ethernet Adapter.

Apple discussion board headings confirm update iLife, MacBook Air products

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Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

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With only hours to go before the company’s “Back to the Mac” event, updates to Apple’s official online forums reveal at least some of the products due to be unveiled at today’s “Back to the Mac” event, including iLife ’11 and a new MacBook Air.

Per AppleInsider, new sections on the Apple Discussions page added Wednesday include iMovie ’11, iPhoto ’11, and GarageBand ’11, all part of the iLife software suite. There is also a forum titled “MBA (Need official name)” which will likely be the discussion home for the newly redesigned MacBook Air.

Finally, a mystery space on the forums points to but does not reveal what product it represents. It simply carries the title “Reserved 10 20.”

Last week, the following details were located and confirmed regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook:
- A smaller 11.6″ display.

- 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (with a 2.33GHz option possible).

- 2GB of memory in the base configuration.

- No optical drive.

- Mini DisplayPort, USB, and SD card reader on the left side; USB and power on the right.

- The trackpad has been updated to match that of the new MacBook Pros.

- Although smaller due to the 11.6″ display, it’s still about the same thickness as the current MacBook Air.

- A black power key now sits immediately to the right of a smaller eject key on the MBA’s keyboard — the round aluminum power button is gone. A design decision that might support the MBA’s rumored instant-on capabilities though our source didn’t see this functionality exhibited (possibly because it was running OS X 10.6.4).

We’ll know the full details in a few hours, so stay tuned and we’ll bring you everything we can get our mitts on.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to feature longer lasting battery, upgradable RAM

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 12:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Because next-gen MacBook Air rumors and details are the hip thing today, a couple new interesting tidbits have emerged from the cool cats at Cult of Mac. Per the article, an anonymous source has stated that the refreshed MacBook Air will offer 8 to 10 hours of battery life as well as upgradeable RAM, which will arrive with 2GB onboard that can be upped later on.

The source also indicated that the notebook will be smaller, but will still offer a battery 50% larger, boosting battery life to between 8 and 10 hours, up from the current model’s 5-hour battery life.

The report also rumors that the new MacBook Air will be offered in two sizes: an 11.6″ screen, and a 13.3″ display. The source stated that the 13″ model could be priced as low as US$1,100, while the 11″ model could be just US$999.

The report also indicate that the solid state drive on the device will be upgradeable. Sources have stated that the new device will feature an “SSD Card” that lacks a traditional drive enclosure, and will instead more closely resemble NAND flash. However, it was said the storage will not be easily user replaceable and will be based off of an SATA connection.

Cult of Mac also reported that the new MacBook Air could come in two different configurations: a 2.1GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It also said that the notebook will sport Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics, a GPU first introduced this April in the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The report also included a mockup of the device, which is said to be “thinner, lighter and boxier than the current model,” according to author Leander Kahney.

Other details include the following:
- The quick boot time on the new MacBook Air is said to be “unbelievable” and “amazing.”

- The new model has an aluminum unibody design, but is “not as curvy” as the current model.

- The source indicated it is “boxier” like the iPhone 4.

- For inputs, the source indicated the device has two USB ports, an SD card slot on the right side, and a Mini DisplayPort adapter on the left side.

Here’s hoping for the best and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Additional details emerge from leaked next-gen MacBook Air photos

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 04:05
Category: MacBook Air, photos, Rumor

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Additional details have surfaced regarding Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air notebook. Per AppleInsider, a source has claimed the 11.6″ MacBook Air won’t replace the 13.3″ model, but will instead complement it as a more aggressively-priced option.

The following notes have also come to light:
- Both the new 11.6″ and 13.3″ models sport matching outfits in the form of new, all-unibody designs and single button trackpads.

- The port door found on the existing MacBook Air is gone from the new designs, which feature a port layout similar to the existing MacBook Pro notebooks.

- The new “SSD card” storage is based off a SATA connection.

- The base component of both models is just slightly thicker than a standard USB port at its thickest point.

From the following image, along with one also published of the machine’s system profile, it appears that the following facts have been discovered:



- The new SSD card-based storage sits above and to the left of the new battery chamber, which appears to include 4 separate battery components.

- The unit has dual USB ports, one on each side.

- Other I/O include a MagSafe power adapter, mini DisplayPort, and SD card reader.

- The prototype from April is running the same 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor found in the current generation MacBook Air.

- It also has 2GB of memory as standard.

- Bus speed clocks in at 1.07GHz.

- The unit identifies itself as MacBook Air 3,1.

We’ll get you additional details as they become available and if you have a comment to hurl in, we’d love to hear it.

Next-gen MacBook Air pics leaked

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 04:12
Category: MacBook Air, photos, Rumor

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It’s three days ahead of Apple’s scheduled “Back to the Mac” media event, but photos obtained by Engadget show a possible next-generation MacBook Air notebook with a unibody frame and what appears to be for a 13.3″ screen. The computer appears to have USB plugs on both the left and right sides, Mini DisplayPort and an SD card reader.

Engadget’s source claims the rest of the machine is also unibody, including the “large single mouse button,” but the screen will keep the current MacBook Air style, instead of the “edge-to-edge glass with black edges” that current MacBook Pro models have.

The laptop allegedly runs the same 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor as the current MacBook Air notebook, which could demonstrate that the photos are of an early prototype. Engadget’s source claims “the model dates back to at least April.”

The unverified photos represent “just one SKU,” so Apple may have something else in store as well, wrote author Paul Miller.

Additional sources have claimed that Apple will release a smaller 11.6″ MacBook Air this Wednesday at the company’s “Back to the Mac” special event.

Another source familiar with the matter believes the smaller form factor will forgo conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) storage options in favor of an “SSD Card”, though details are still vague as to this possible feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think of the photos:





Analyst points to supply chain activity, cites strong evidence for new Apple sub-notebook on horizon

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Date: Thursday, October 14th, 2010, 05:16
Category: MacBook Air, News

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Recent activity within Apple’s supply chain throughout 2010 has shown signs that the company is gearing up to introduce a new notebook that doesn’t fit into any of its existing hardware designs, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in a recent note to clients that a new MacBook Air from Apple appears increasingly likely to make an appearance during next Wednesday’s special “Back to the Mac” event, which is set to take place at 10:00 am local time on the company’s Cupertino campus.

“Our checks with supply chain sources over the last 6-9 months have indicated evidence of a new subnotebook form factor,” he wrote. “We had thought it would be released earlier this year but believe it may finally see the light of day as the new MacBook Air.”

Meanwhile, other “industry sources” have reportedly informed the analyst that Apple is making much progress in the area of “true” multi-touch Macs. Such products are believed to be more feasible today than ever, given the success of the 9.7″ iPad which is believed to be helping to bring down the cost of touchscreens and substrates, which have previously been prohibitively expensive.

Wu also claimed that the next version of Apple’s iLife application suite, which his “sources have indicated has undergone extensive testing,” could be unveiled along with a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” and possible speed bumps to the MacBook and MacBook Pro line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Current MacBook Air supplies being depleted, next-gen model said to be forthcoming

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:19
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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With current supplies of Apple’s MacBook Air notebook drying up through the company’s indirect sales channels, rumors are spreading that a next generation model is on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, all but one of the Apple Authorized Resellers that the web site tracks tracks as part of its Mac Price Guide have run out of low-end 1.83GHz MacBook Air, including Amazon.com, MacConnection, MacMall and J&R. In addition, at least two of those resellers are also reflecting no stock of the high-end 2.13GHz configuration.

This marks the first time the web site has witnessed this abnormal trend in regards to the Air since it began tracking availability of Apple’s Mac line on a daily basis over two years ago. For weeks now, the websites of certain resellers have indicated that inventory of the low-end MacBook Air was on the verge of depletion, urging shoppers to “order soon,” as only a handful of units remained in stock.

Sources familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com say that Apple has indicted to them that it will not replenish supply of the notebooks until October 12th through October 16th at the earliest. Such expansive delays on low volume products like the MacBook Air are common only when Mac maker is preparing to overhaul the product line, these people say.

Mid-October hardware updates have become something of an annual tradition for Apple, who last year unveiled a redesigned line of iMacs and unibody MacBook on October 20th, 2009. Though last year’s products were introduced without a formal event, in 2008 the company held a special gathering for the media on October 14th to introduce new MacBooks. Back in 2005, the company similarly held two events in mid-October to introduce a new iPod, iMac, and a lineup of PowerBook notebooks.

All these signs seem to support persistent rumors out of the Far East that Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display this fall, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. It’s reported that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6″ display first surfaced in July. The rumored hardware was anticipated to be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6-inch Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction, though this and defined technical specifications have yet to be confirmed on any level.

The introduction of a new MacBook Air would likely come alongside an update to Apple’s iLife suite, a product that has also become long in the tooth. The last update, iLife ’09, was launched in January of 2009.

Recent rumors have suggested that a presumed iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be available for iOS-based devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple prepping smaller, lighter MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Things may be about to change for Apple’s MacBook Air, the super-slim notebook perhaps receiving an LED-backlit display nearly two inches smaller than the current model.

Per DigiTimes, Apple has watched sales of its ultra-portable trickle off to levels believed to be immaterial to its bottom line. As such, the product line has received little attention from the company, undergoing just two minor revisions in a 29-month span — the latter of which took place well over a year ago.

At just 0.76″ at its thickest point, the MacBook Air is undoubtedly slim enough for its target audience of business travelers and those consistently on the go. However, sales of the device suggest that its 13.3″ footprint and 3 pound carrying weight may be a bit more than that class of customers would prefer, especially given the resounding success of Apple’s more compact and lighter 9.7″ iPad.

In an effort to make the design of the Air more appealing and further differentiate the notebook from the company’s mainstream 13.3″ MacBook, Apple in 2008 reportedly began experimenting with a partial carbon fiber enclosure that would shave upwards of a 100 grams off its weight.

With plans for such a design failing to materialize over the last two years, it’s believed that Apple returned to the drawing board at some point and began crafting a makeover that would deliver both size and weight reductions, further pushing the envelop of ultra-portable notebook computing.

The first evidence to this end arrived earlier this year when an analyst citing sources in Apple’s Taiwanese component supply chain revealed that the company was placing orders for parts to fit a slimmer and lighter MacBook Air based around an 11.6″ LED-lit display and Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

On Friday, a new report appears to further corroborate such claims, alleging that Apple’s primary notebook manufacturer Quanta has landed orders to produce the first 400,000-500,000 11.6″ “MacBooks” for delivery to the Mac maker before the end of the 2010 calendar year.

No further details were available from the report. Apple last updated the 13.3″ MacBook Air back in June of 2009 when it dropped the entry-level price to US$1,499 from US$1,799 for a model with a 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. A $1,799 offering based around a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid state drive was also introduced.

Stay tuned for details as they become available.

Apple licenses new durable metal alloy for use in products

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:50
Category: News

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Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion.

Per AppleInsider, the metal alloys, owned by Liquidmetal Technologies, were developed by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, and their amorphous, non-crystalline structure makes them harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum.

Introduced for commercial applications in 2003 through the Delaware-based Liquidmetal corporation, the product has been used to create technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, has been found in medical equipment, and is even used to create sporting goods like tennis raquets and golf clubs.



In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Liquidmetal Technologies indicated that it had granted all of its intellectual property assets to Apple. According to the terms of the deal, Apple was awarded “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercial such intellectual property in the field of electronic products in exchange for a license fee.”

Though the licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics, Liquidmetal is still allowed to license its products to other companies for any use outside of markets where Apple competes, meaning its deals with defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers are likely to remain intact.

The agreement was made on August 5th, revealed to the SEC on Monday and was signed by Larry Buffington, president and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies.

The company’s official website gives examples of where Liquidmetal’s products were used in portable electronics in the past. It touts that Liquidmetal alloys are 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel found in portable electronic devices. The technology is said to allow for thinner, smaller design while offering greater protection for internal components, and giving users a scratch and corrosion resistant exterior.

Past devices where Liquidmetal’s technology was utilized include the Nokia Vertu smartphone, Sandisk Sansa media player, and Sandisk U3 Smart thumb drives. The product was also used to create strong hinge components for devices like flip smartphones.

Apple’s interest in a company like Liquidmetal is no surprise, given its constant desire to create smaller and thinner devices. Apple has also employed a unibody design in its portable computers, beginning in early 2008 with the MacBook Air.

The precision unibody enclosures are milled from a single extruded block of aluminum, allowing devices like the MacBook Pro to become thinner while maintaining a rigid, sturdy frame. Previously, the frames of Apple’s notebooks were made from multiple parts. Now, raw aluminum is carved out using CNC, or “computer numerical control” machines.

Whatever becomes of this, you can’t say it won’t be interesting.