Apple releases MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0 firmware upgrade

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Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2012, 06:54
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

It never hurts to pin down the bugs within the early days.

Early Thursday, Apple released its MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0 firmware upgrade. The update, a 167 megabyte download, can also be found, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and offers the following fixes and changes for the newly-released notebooks:

- The update includes fixes that improve graphics stability, flash performance, and external display support.

The update requires a mid-2012 MacBook Air and Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple announces next-gen MacBook Air notebooks, adds USB 3.0, Ivy Bridge and larger capacity flash storage

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 11:56
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

The MacBook Air may not have received a Retina Display, but it has some cool new stuff under the hood.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced the new generation of the lightweight notebook today, the new generation featuring USB 3.0 as well as Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, and configurations running up to 2.0GHz in speed with a Core i7 processor and 512 gigabytes of flash storage.

The new MacBook Airs also feature 720p high-definition FaceTime cameras for both the 11- and 13-inch models. And they have been upgraded with high-speed USB 3.0 ports that offer up to 500MBps read speed, in addition to the existing Thunderbolt connection. Users can also configure the new MacBook Air with up to 8 gigabytes of RAM.

The 11-inch MacBook Air has a 1,366-by-768-pixel display and a 1.7GHz dual-core i5 processor. It has 4 gigabytes of RAM, Intel HD graphics 4000, and up to 128 gigabytes of flash storage. It starts at US$999 for the 64 gigabyte model, and is US$1,099 for the 128 gigabyte capacity.

The 13-inch MacBook Air has a 1,400-by-900 display and a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 processor standard, with 4 gigabytes of RAM and Intel HD 400 graphics. For 128 gigabytes of flash storage, it costs US$1,199, while 256 gigabytes is US$1,499.

Both new notebooks are shipping today, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller announced at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel releases 14 low-voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs

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Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 05:30
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

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It’s just a question of when Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors arrive within an updated MacBook Air notebook.

Per Engadget, Intel on Thursday announced 14 new Ivy Bridge processors, four of which are ultra-low voltage chips that could find their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Air lineup.

All of the ultra-low voltage lineup has two cores and four threads running at 17 watts thermal power design, along with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Leading off the new batch of Intel’s third-generation processors is the i7-3667U, with a CPU base frequency of 2 gigahertz running as fast as 3.2 gigahertz with Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Max Frequency, and 4 megabytes of L3 cache. Next down the lists the i7-3517U, which has a base speed of 1.9 gigahertz that ramps up to 3 gigahertz, along with 4 megabytes of L3 cache.

The lower-end Core i5 ultra-low voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs are led by the i5-3427U, which has a base frequency of 1.8 gigahertz that runs as fast as 2.8 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost, with 3 megabytes of L3 cache. And the lowest ultra-low voltage CPU announced Thursday is the i5-3317U, with a base frequency of 1.7 gigahertz, max frequency of 2.6 gigahertz, and 3 megabytes of L3 cache.



All of Intel’s Ivy Bridge “Ultra Processors” have support for PCIe Generation 3, as well as Intel’s Secure Key, OS Guard, AES/TXT/vPro and Virtualization technology.

The MacBook Air lineup was last updated nearly a year ago, in July of 2011. The notebooks were equipped with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors, and gained backlit keyboards and Thunderbolt ports.

Also announced by Intel on Thursday were a handful of dual-core traditional mobile chips that could find their way into other products in Apple’s Mac lineup, specifically the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the Mac mini. The Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors run at 35W TDP, feature four threads, include Intel HD Graphics 4000, and range in speed from 3.1 gigahertz to 3.6 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost.

Intel launched its first batch of Ivy Bridge processors in late April, declaring them the “world’s first 22-nanometer product.” A total of 13 high-end quad-core chips were released in the first round, and it’s believed some of them could make their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Pro lineup.

Rumors have suggested that Apple plans to launch new Macs at its forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which will kick off on June 11. Some reports have indicated that Apple will unveil new MacBook Pros and iMacs at the event, but little has been said of an impending MacBook Air refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst states that next-gen MacBook Pro could use NAND storage system

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 06:00
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The components found on the next generation of MacBook Pro notebooks could be that much more interesting.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ben Reitzes of Barclays Equity Research said that the adoption rate of Apple devices using SSDs, along with a continuing move to cloud computing, will push consumer notebook demand toward flash-based storage.

Perhaps the single greatest setback to flash adoption is that the price of solid state solutions grossly outweigh comparable HDDs, keeping the technology out of reach for everyday consumers. This cost ratio may tilt in the physical hard drive’s favor, however consumers have recently started giving up storage space and low cost for design and performance benefits, evidenced by the success of the thin and light MacBook Air.

Reitzes believes that the advent of cloud computing will help ease consumers in the transition from physical drives to flash by offloading storage to servers, thus diminishing the need for pricey high-capacity NAND drives. Apple’s iCloud is already well in-place and has the potential of filling offsite storage needs if the company chooses to move to a NAND-heavy laptop lineup.

For these reasons, the analyst expects Apple to reveal a NAND-equipped MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Airs with increased storage options in the near future.

“We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis – taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs,” Reitzes said.

The report goes on to say that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of notebook PC sales have been cannibalized by NAND-carrying iPads and iPhones, further impacting HDD demand for PCs. The move to portable products has been dubbed as the “post-PC era,” as consumers begin to replace computers with tablets and handset. Interestingly, this trend toward flash in consumer devices is seen as fueling data growth, which helps to augment sales of enterprise-class HDDs.

Hard drive makers won’t be the only ones to be affected by the trend toward cloud computing and flash storage, and Dell acknowledged earlier in May that PC demand was slowing due to the strong performance of tablets and smartphones. If rumors pan out, the PC market could see further pressure with Apple’s debut of a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad later this year.

It is expected that Apple will outline its intentions for iCloud and possibly introduce a revamped MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to switch from AMD to Nvidia for next-gen MacBook Pro graphics cards

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:43
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Maybe it’s the nature of the industry: you have to be fickle about which graphic cards you go with and change your affections from time to time.

Per 9to5Mac, the web site claims to have discovered evidence that Apple may be planning to switch from AMD GPUs to Nvidia graphics in the new MacBook Pro, expected to launch in June.

A number of reports have emerged confirming the move, quoting ‘trusted sources’ and noting references in the to the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card in OS X beta code. The sources have gone on to claim having located references to the GeForce GT 650M, which, according to Nvidia, offers incredible dedicated graphics performance for gaming and other tasks, all while apparently being battery-life efficient.

The MacBook Pros currently use AMD’s Radeon HD 6770M and Radeon HD 6750M for graphics processing.

There are also reports that Apple will include USB 3.0 in the next MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple approaches Genesys to supply USB 3.0 chips for next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, Rumor

This could prove useful.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to have inked a deal with Genesys Logic for USB 3.0 card reader controller chips.

The integrated-circuit design house will provide the USB 3.0 chips for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Air models, which will be released in the second half of 2012, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Overall shipments of USB 3.0 products are expected to take off in 2012 with the launch of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are also expected to be found in Apple’s next Macs.

Genesys Logic manufactures the GL3220 Card Reader Controller, a USB 3.0 complaint chip which can support various types of memory cards. Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air includes a dedicated SD card reader, which would make it an ideal fit for the new chips.

The card reader controller allows for a system’s internal SD card slot to connect to a system’s onboard USB 3.0 controllers. The rumored deal with Gensys and Apple could suggest that Apple plans to add USB 3.0 support to its future MacBooks.

Last year, Apple launched its first Macs with the new high-speed Thunderbolt port, which the company co-designed with Intel. Thunderbolt support is set to come to Windows PCs this year, as Intel views it and USB 3.0 as complementary technologies, with support for both built in to Ivy Bridge processors.

Formerly code-named “Light Peak,” Thunderbolt’s data transfer speeds are 20 times faster than the current, widely available USB 2.0 specification. Thunderbolt’s 10Gbps speeds are even twice as fast as USB 3.0.

Last September it was rumored that Apple was investigating USB 3.0 support with new Mac hardware. The third-generation of USB is backward compatible with the previous generation of devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release aggressively-priced $799 MacBook Air to compete with second-gen Intel Ultrabook

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:52
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

When in doubt, get competitive.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to be planning to aggressively combat new “Ultrabook” notebooks coming to market by releasing a US$799 MacBook Air model in the third quarter of 2012, a price US$200 less than the company’s current cheapest model.

The claim came on Monday and cited sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain. Apple’s plans are reportedly to counter second-generation Ultrabooks, based on Intel’s specifications for thin and light notebooks, which PC makers hope to price around US$699.

If PC makers are unable to reach the $699 price point with their second-generation Ultrabooks, Apple could have a significant competitive advantage with an aggressive US$799 price point for a new MacBook Air, the report claims.

Currently, Apple’s cheapest notebook option is the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which is priced at US$999 and comes with a 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. Apple also offers a stripped-down 13-inch MacBook Air for education buyers only for US$999.

Last month, it was said that Intel hopes to see shipments of as many as 30 million Ultrabooks this year. The company designed the Ultrabook specification after Apple found great success with its new MacBook Air, which features only solid-state storage, instant-on capabilities, and super-thin design thanks to the lack of an optical drive.

Apple is expected to begin revamping its Mac lineup in the coming weeks with Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The product makeover is expected to begin with new MacBook Pros, starting with a 15-inch model, that will also rely on solid-state storage and lose an optical drive, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.

Prior to Monday’s report, little has been said of a new MacBook Air lineup, with most rumors focusing on Apple’s next MacBook Pros. In fact, one report even suggested that Apple could merge the two product lines, “effectively killing the Pro” and having all of its notebooks like MacBook Airs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel to announce Ivy Bridge architecture on April 23rd

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Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 07:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Processors

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There’s gotta be some truth to this somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, Intel has moved up the announcement of its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors from the original date of April 29 to April 23 as PC makers ready the second generation of ultrabooks, expected to arrive in May.

The publication claimed on Thursday that sources from notebook players had revealed Intel’s change in plans. The launch comes as Asustek, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are expected to release Ivy Bridge-powered ultrabooks next month.

Multiple sources have pointed to late April for the Ivy Bridge launch. One report claimed late last month that Intel would announce the new processors between April 22 and April 28 and begin selling them on April 29.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pros will likely be the first Macs to feature the new Intel chips. Sources out of the Far East said last month that the updated laptops could arrive by the end of April.

Following the release of its new notebooks, the Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to release updated Ivy Bridge iMacs as early as June or July.

Other hints that Intel is nearly ready to release its Ivy Bridge architecture also came on Thursday when reports surfaced that Intel is shipping its second-generation Thunderbolt controllers for use with Ivy Bridge chips.

Thursday’s report also quoted Intel vice president Kirk Skaugen as saying that ultrabook prices will fall from US$999 to US$699 in the new few months as volume shipments drive costs down. PC makers have been hard at work at reducing the average price of ultrabook laptops in order to better compete against Apple’s MacBook Air.

Intel declared earlier this month that ultrabooks trump the MacBook Air in functionality and value.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to begin mass-producing next-gen 15-inch MacBook Pro in April, 13-inch model in June

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Date: Thursday, March 29th, 2012, 06:10
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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To be fair, the rumors ARE getting a little more specific.

Per DigiTimes, a new report out of the Far East claims Apple is scheduled to begin mass production of a new 15-inch MacBook Pro in April, while a 13.3-inch model is rumored to enter mass production in June.

The web site reported on Thursday that, according to upstream supply chain sources, Apple is anticipating higher demand for its upcoming 13.3-inch MacBook Pro refresh than its 15-inch version.

Tipsters indicated an April production schedule for the larger version and a June schedule for production of an update to the 13.3-inch notebook. They said monthly production capacity of the 15-inch MacBook will start out at between 100,000 and 150,000 units and “rise gradually.”

Earlier this month, the same publication reported that Apple’s new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros had entered production. The new machines are said to lack optical drives while maintaining “more advanced specs” than the MacBook Air.

Sources have separately told AppleInsider that Apple is gearing up to blur the lines between its current MacBook Air models and its pro series of laptops. It’s not yet clear, however, whether the company will revise its marketing names for the machines and collapse the two lineups under one name.

Reports also emerged on Wednesday that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips, some of which are presumably bound for Apple’s new Macs, are scheduled to launch at the end of April. Earlier reports have claimed that Apple is aiming to launch the 15-inch MacBook Pro also by the end of next month. Intel has experienced some delays with its Ivy Bridge processors, but it remains to be seen to what extent Apple’s schedule will be affected.

Mounting evidence also suggests that Apple is preparing to upgrade its Mac displays to Retina Display quality and could do so as early as the next generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Thinner, optical-drive-free 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks currently in production

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Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012, 10:09
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The new MacBook Pro units are coming and their optical drives may be a thing of the past.

Per DigiTimes, initial monthly shipments of the next-generation notebooks will be between 100,000 and 150,000 and sources have indicated that the new MacBook Pros will ditch the optical drive in favor of the “more advanced specs” than the MacBook Air, suggesting that the 13- and 15-inch Pro models will continue to exist alongside the Air.

The new MacBook Pros are said to feature stronger CPU performance and larger storage capacity than their MacBook Air counterparts. Shipments of the new notebooks to Apple will begin this month, the report said.

As suppliers ramp up production of the new MacBook Pro, monthly shipments are expected to eventually reach 900,000 units, well up from the current numbers in limited production.

Supply chain sources suggested that the new MacBook Pro models might arrive around the same time as new Windows Ultrabooks also based on Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

This week, a pair of reports suggested that Apple will debut a new MacBook lineup in April based on Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors. In particular, much attention has been paid to a new 15-inch notebook model. Reports have differed on whether it will be a 15-inch MacBook Air, expanding the thin-and-light product line to a new form factor, or if it will simply be a new MacBook Pro with a thinner profile.

One report on Thursday claimed that Apple will debut a new, thinner 15-inch MacBook Pro based on Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. It was said that the new MacBook Pro would still be thinner than the different MacBook Air lineup.

That was somewhat in contrast to a separate report issued on Wednesday that claimed Apple was to launch a new 15-inch MacBook Air in April, “effectively killing the Pro.” It was suggested that the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air models could even completely replace their MacBook Pro counterparts in the same screen sizes, leaving only the 17-inch MacBook Pro as the only “Pro” laptop from Apple.

Whether Apple’s new 15-inch notebook is known as a “Pro” or an Air,” the model has been rumored since last year. Like the MacBook Air, it is expected to lack a built-in optical drive and Ethernet port, as Apple continues its push for digital distribution of software through the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.