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.

Analyst states that Retina Display units could add up to $92 to price tag

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 14:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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If you want the cool thing, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Per CNET, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard Shim has stated that super-high-resolution 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch screens are already available from LCD suppliers. But a Retina-quality screen for Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro would cost US$160 from suppliers, as opposed to US$68 for current, standard-resolution screens.

Similarly, with a 13.3-inch display, a Retina-caliber screen is US$134, while the LCD panels Apple currently uses are estimated to cost US$69.

If Apple does in fact add Retina displays to its future Macs, as is expected, it’s unknown whether the cost of these high-resolution screens would be passed on to the consumer. Apple upgraded its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad product lineups to Retina displays without increasing the price.

The screens DisplaySearch says are available that would be ideal for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pros are a 15.4-inch panel with a resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, or 220 pixels per inch, and a 13.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, or 227 pixels per inch. Each would add at least 100 pixels per inch to their respective MacBook Pro models.

Numerous reports have indicated Apple will introduce new, thinner MacBook Pros at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Those new professional notebooks are expected to include Retina display-like screens that will be driven by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to follow in the footsteps of Apple’s popular MacBook Air lineup by ditching built-in optical drives and adding flash memory for faster performance and greater reliability.

It has also been reported that Apple will update its all-in-one desktop line of iMacs at WWDC when it kicks off June 11. The new iMacs are also expected to have high-resolution Retina displays, but potential screens for the desktop were not highlighted by DisplaySearch.

In addition, DisplaySearch did not specifically identify any potential Retina display LCDs for a 17-inch MacBook Pro. One prediction published in April suggested Apple would discontinue its 17-inch MacBook Pro, leaving only the 13- and 15-inch models.

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 to debut next-gen, thinner, Retina Display-equipped MacBook Pro units at WWDC 2012

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:11
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that make things interesting.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will reportedly debut multiple new MacBook Pro models at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, each said to sport Retina Display-like screens and high-performance Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

The refreshed lineup is rumored to feature a slim design that will bring the laptop more inline with Apple’s popular MacBook Air series.

The sources also mention that flash memory will be used to decrease boot times and extend battery life, though it was not made clear if the new MacBook Pros will rely on pricey solid state drives exclusively as does the MacBook Air.

While the exact dimensions of the supposed next-generation laptop went unreported, rumors have suggested that the design will take cues from the MacBook Air and may do away with the existing optical drive in an effort to give the machine a slim, tapered appearance.

Also “confirmed” was the implementation of Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors which were recently unveiled in April. Built on “the world’s first 22nm process” and boasting new 3D transistor technology, the chips are said to be highly-efficient and powerful enough to support 4K resolutions. Intel is initially rolling out the silicon as part of the Core i5 and Core i7 families.

The inclusion of Intel’s powerful new processors could allow for screens with resolutions rivaling those seen on the current iPhone 4 and 4S as well as the new iPad, and rumors have persisted since last year claiming that Apple was working on a Retina Display laptop. Offering further evidence to a possible Retina Display MacBook are the latest OS X Lion updates which brought Hi-DPI UI assets in 10.7.3 and doubled icon resolution in 10.7.4.

Reports from upstream supply chain sources said that mass production of new MacBook Pro models would ramp up starting with the 15-inch model in April followed by a June manufacture for the smaller 13.3-inch unit. No mention of the 17-inch MacBook Pro was made and some predict that Apple will discontinue the large-screened model due to declining shipments.

Apple is also said to be showing off the “future of iOS and OS X” at WWDC 2012, alluding to a possible unveiling of iOS 6 and more Mountain Lion details. The conference will take place from June 11 through the 15 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Uncovered Geekbench benchmarks hint at speedy next-gen MacBook Pro, iMac computers

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:13
Category: Benchmark, Hardware, iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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It’s the benchmarks that get you interested in a new architecture.

Per MacRumors, a series of Geekbench benchmarks that appear to be from unreleased versions of Apple’s MacBook Pro and iMac computers have surfaced online and serve as compelling evidence of upcoming upgrades from the company.

Scores for a MacBook Pro9,1 and an iMac13,2 were discovered by a MacRumors forum user on Sunday, as noted by the publication. Though it’s possible the results were spoofed, the model numbers, if accurate, are higher than Apple’s current-generation models.

According to the benchmarks, the MacBookPro9,1 was running Max OS X 10.8 (Build 12A211), a build that has yet to be released to developers. The machine reportedly made use of a quad-core 2.70 GHz Core i7-3820QM processor and received a GeekBench score of 12,252. That compares to a score of around 10,500 for the Core i7-2860QM processor found in the current MacBook Pro.

Benchmarks for the alleged iMac13,2 were posted a few days before the MacBook Pro results. The desktop was also powered by a quad-core i7 chip, though the model number was 3770 and the clock speed was 3.40 GHz. The operating system for the iMac was described as Mac OS X 10.8 (Build 12A2040), which may have been running an earlier build of Mac OS X 10.8 than that of the aforementioned MacBook Pro. The Geekbench score for the iMac came in at 12,183.

The report also noted that the motherboard identifiers for both machines match up with Mac models discovered in the first developer preview of OS X 10.8.

Geekbench has served as an accurate source of leaks in the past. In 2010, early benchmarks matched the eventual specifications of a MacBook Pro upgrade.

In March, benchmarks reportedly for “Hackintosh” Ivy Bridge-powered computers appeared online. A 3.50GHz Core i7-3770K CPU running Mac OS X 10.7 was said to have received a score of 13,453.

Chipmaker Intel officially launched its Ivy Bridge architecture late last month. Ahead of the release, CEO Paul Otellini indicated that the “bulk” of the first wave of chips would go to desktop computers. A second batch of Ivy Bridge processors bound for lightweight notebooks are scheduled to be released later this quarter.

Rumors have also suggested that Apple will release new iMacs in June or July. One report claimed last month that the new iMacs will feature anti-reflective displays.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.7.4 update resources point towards Retina Display features in upcoming Macs

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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The cool stuff, it’s en route.

Per AppleInsider, assorted resources within the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update issued on Wednesday is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple’s built-in TextEdit application. In Mac OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application’s icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled.

With the quality of the TextEdit icon increased greatly to 1,024-by-1,024 pixels, the file size of the icon also grew from just 209 kilobytes in OS X 10.7.3 to 1.7 megabytes in 10.7.4.

Other applications also saw their icon file sizes grow, such as the Address Book, from 279 kilobytes to 484 kilobytes, and Dashboard, from 130 kilobytes to 226 kilobytes. However, those applications do not feature Retina display 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons.

The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup. Apple’s new iPad, released in March, packs 3.1 million pixels onto its 9.7-inch display, giving it a higher resolution than a high-definition 1080p television.

Apple has been making behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X to prepare for anticipated Retina display Macs for some time. Some application icons, like the App Store and LaunchPad, have included 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons since OS X 10.7 Lion was in beta.

In February, it was discovered that Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update for Lion added more high-DPI user interface elements. Various cursors were upgraded to higher-resolution versions, like the pointing-finger cursor for browsers, the “grabby hand,” and the camera cursor for taking screenshots.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but those were only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the user interface resolution doubling that Apple has done with Retina displays on the iPhone and iPad.

Double-resolution icons can also be found in various applications in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system set to arrive this summer.

One report from last year claimed that Apple is planning to launch a new MacBook Pro with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel Retina display this year. That would be exactly twice the resolution of the 1,440-by-900-pixel display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s next-generation Macs are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Intel announced last September that Ivy Bridge chips would include support for screens with a 4K resolution, providing up to 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

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: Apple to discontinue 17-inch MacBook Pro model

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:38
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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In addition to Microsoft pulling its Office 2011 SP2 update, here’s your other piece of potential bad news for the day:

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities predicted on Monday that Apple is “likely to stop making” the 17-inch MacBook Pro this year. He cited falling shipments with the company’s top-of-the-line notebook as the primary reason he thinks it will get the ax.

Kuo has a respectable track record with regard to Apple’s products. In particular, he was first to indicate in 2011 that Apple would phase out its legacy 13-inch polycarbonate MacBook.

Soon after, the white, entry-level MacBook was completely discontinued. It has been completely replaced at the US$999 price point by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, while education institutions can buy a special, less powerful version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air in bulk for US$999.

Apple is expected to launch a revamped MacBook Pro lineup in the coming weeks, featuring a new thin-and-light design similar to the MacBook Air, and powered by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The launch of new MacBook Pros is expected to be staggered, with the new 15-inch models leading the way as soon as this month.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to quickly follow and launch in June, bringing new features like solid-state storage and a thinner design lacking an optical drive. But while recent rumors have mentioned the 15-inch and 13-inch models, little has been said about a redesigned 17-inch MacBook Pro.

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.

Early Ivy Bridge benchmark tests surface, show appreciable improvements in graphics, overall performance

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Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 11:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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It’s the benchmarks that make an upcoming technology that much more interesting.

Per CPU World, a series of benchmark tests demonstrates how the much-anticipated Ivy Bridge architecture in the upcoming MacBook Pro notebooks could show fairly significant improvements in performance, particularly in graphics.

The chip being tested was the Core i7-3820QM, a 2.7 GHz processor with turbo speeds up to 3.7 GHz paired with Intel HD 4000 graphics. The chip is scheduled to debut with a price of US$568 in high volume, and seems to be the natural successor to the Sandy Bridge Core i7-2860QM that is the current high-end processor for the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro, available as a build-to-order option.

For benchmarking comparisons, the new Ivy Bridge Core i7-3820QM chip was pitted against a Sandy Bridge Core i7-2960XM, which is an even higher-performance “Extreme” chip than is available in the current MacBook Pro. Consequently, any performance increase between the current high-end MacBook Pro chip and this new Ivy Bridge chip would be even greater than outlined in the benchmarking comparison.

Overall, the 3820QM was found to score an average of 9% higher than the Extreme 2960XM chip, a modest improvement but one which should be significantly higher relative to the 2860QM chip from the current MacBook Pro. Taking into account a roughly 10% higher performance for the tested 2960XM Sandy Bridge processor compared to the 2860QM actually found in the current MacBook Pro, the new 3820QM Ivy Bridge processor should offer roughly 20% higher CPU performance than is currently available in the MacBook Pro.

Looking at the CPU performance, using a few tests, the reduced production process helps the performance for a number of standard tests. In 3DMark Vantage (Entry level preset), Ivy Bridge has a 10% performance improvement over Sandy Bridge for the CPU score, and 9% in the physics score. In Cinebench 11.5, the single thread test showed a performance boost of 4%, and the multi-threaded test gave an improvement of 10%. The performance boost in the Truecrypt 7.0a – AES test was 4%. Finally, using x264 HD Benchmark 4.0, test 1 showed a boost of 13%, and test 2 showed a boost of 11%.

Even more significant gains for the Ivy Bridge chip show up in graphics performance, where the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics supplants the HD 3000 graphics found in the Sandy Bridge chips. According to the benchmarks, the new HD 4000 integrated graphics outperforms the current graphics by anywhere from 32% to 108% depending on the test.

Apple, of course also includes a dedicated graphics chip in its larger MacBook Pro models, giving users the option of higher performance with the dedicated chip or increased battery life with the integrated graphics. And given that the HD 4000 integrated graphics does not yet approach the performance of dedicated chips, those looking for maximum performance will still want to take advantage of whichever dedicated graphics option Apple includes in updated MacBook Pro models.

But significant improvements to integrated graphics performance could show up as a benefit in a number of areas, including providing users with better performance even when opting for the battery-conserving graphics settings. Apple has also reportedly been considering using integrated graphics only in some of its mid-range MacBook Pro models, with the HD 4000 chip making it feasible for the company to drop the dedicated graphics chip on some of those models while still being able to offer acceptable graphics performance.

Finally, the HD 4000 graphics will offer a marked improvement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is expected to debut in June when Intel rolls out its dual-core Ivy Bridge processors. The smaller 13-inch form factor requires that those models rely solely on integrated graphics, meaning that all users would see a significant boost from the current HD 3000 graphics to the new HD 4000 graphics.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.