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

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

el17.jpg

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.

Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to begin production of 200,000 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in April, 400,000 13-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in June

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 13:41
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

It won’t be long now.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is gearing up to begin production of its new thinner and lighter MacBook Pros, with production of the new 15-inch model set to begin first in mid-April.

Mass production of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro will see initial monthly shipments of 200,000 units, according to the web site. The new notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

On the heels of the new 15-inch model, Apple is expected to begin building the thinner 13-inch MacBook Pro in June. For the smaller variant, initial monthly shipments are expected to be greater, reportedly falling between 300,000 and 400,000 units.

The latest report is consistent with previous claims that the 15-inch MacBook Pro would go into production first, and could arrive as early as this month. But Tuesday’s report also suggests initial shipments of the 15-inch model will be slightly greater than was previously expected, as earlier reports claimed that initial monthly shipments would be between 100,000 and 150,000.

The updated notebooks are rumored to borrow the ultra-thin design the company pioneered with its MacBook Air. One person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs indicated “they’re all going to look like MacBook Airs.”

Like the highly successful MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pros are expected to ditch the built-in optical drive, allowing them to have a thinner and lighter design.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s 2012 iMac to feature anti-reflective displays

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 2nd, 2012, 06:25
Category: Hardware, iMac, Rumor

Because rumors make technology interesting.

Per DigiTimes, a completely redesigned family of Apple’s iMacs due for release later this year will not only arrive noticeably slimmer than existing models but may also be the first of the company’s desktops to feature anti-reflective displays.

The Taiwanese rumor publication has claimed that G-Tech is ramping up its monthly production capacity of cover glass from 1.8 million units to 3 million units in an effort to supply 25% or more of the cover glass for Apple’s new iPad.

The report curiously cites sources in adding that “G-Tech is also expected to supply AR (anti-reflective) glass solutions for Apple’s all-in-one (AIO) PCs with the new products to also serve as a growth driver for G-Tech.”

That would be a first for an Apple desktop, as the Mac maker has thus far only offered anti-reflective solutions as built-to-order options on its MacBook family of notebooks.

Apple’s last major redesign of the iMac arrived in October 2009 in the form of new 21.5- and 27-inch aluminum-clad models with an edge-to-edge glass design. Since then, the company has been working on a pair strikingly slimmer and lighter models that will more closely resemble the footprint of today’s most popular LED televisions according to sources close to the story.

Rumored for an introduction sometime in the second half of the year, the new iMac will help define a trend that will also see several of the company’s other core products adopt slimmer, more streamlined footprints throughout the year, including new MacBook Pros that resemble MacBook Airs and a thinner iPhone.

Separately, Apple has also been working to cut the fat from peripherals that ship with its industry-leading all-in-one desktop, with recent company filings revealing techniques for a new, slim-form keyboard with keys that could have a total travel range of as little as 0.2 millimeters.

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

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

el17.jpg

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.

Some users complaining about Wi-Fi signal strength on third-generation iPad units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:54
Category: iPad, News

A firmware update or two may be in order for the iPad 3.

Per the Apple Support Communities forum, a number of users have reported that wireless reception with their new iPad is notably inferior than with Apple’s previous iPad models.

In a growing thread, dozens of users have posted about their troubles with Wi-Fi connectivity on the new iPad. Reports claim that areas that previously achieved strong Wi-Fi signals are now weak, or have no reception at all.

Some users have also compared the reception of their new iPad to their iPhone or MacBook Pro. While the other Apple devices might receive a strong signal in a particular location, they say the new iPad has weak or no connectivity.

“MacBook Pro as well as iPhone 4S show ‘Full Fan’ — new iPad (16GB WIFI) shows ‘one dot’ or just flat drops the wifi connection (and is often unable to search and find it),” user ‘aka_srp’ wrote in a post over the weekend.

Another user, ‘gdtobm,’ said they bought a new iPad from Best Buy on last Friday’s launch and experienced Wi-Fi connectivity issues. The iPad was returned later that day, and the new model they received did not have any problems.

Still another person who posted to Apple’s forums, ‘Andrew Mclaughlin2,’ compared the performance of the new iPad to a first-generation iPad and an iPhone 4S. The tests conducted at Speedtest.net reportedly found that the third-generation iPad has half the throughput of the other devices.

Some of those posting in Apple’s forums have attempted to resolve their issues with AppleCare representatives, while others have talked to personnel at the company’s retail stores. One user, ‘HealthClif,’ said they switched back to a previous-generation iPad 2 after experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity issues with multiple replacements of the new iPad.

Complaints of Wi-Fi-related issues also cropped up with the launch of the first iPad in 2010. Two years ago, some users said they experienced weak Wi-Fi reception, dropped signals, and difficulty connecting to a network.

Apple eventually resolved those issues with an iPad software update. The company acknowledged that a “very small number of iPad users” had experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity on the first-generation iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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

el17.jpg

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.

Rumor: Apple to debut thinner 15-inch MacBook Pro with Ivy Bridge, i7 processor this April

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012, 07:02
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

The nice thing about the rumor mill is as follows: there has to be a part of the truth in there somewhere.

Per the How To Arena, a “reliable source in the Far East Asian supply chain” relayed to the web site that Apple is planning to release a new, thinner 15-inch MacBook Pro by the end of April. The details corroborate with a separate report that surfaced on Wednesday, though there remains confusion as to whether the new notebook will be a “Pro” or an “Air.”

Thursday’s newest take said the new 15-inch MacBook Pros will be powered by Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. That would be a change from the existing Sandy Bridge-based MacBook Pros, as both 15-inch models feature high-end Core i7 processors, while an Intel Core i5 CPU is found in the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The report said it is “not clear” if Apple plans to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge CPU from Intel. It’s possible that, like the current MacBook Pro lineup, all of the company’s “Pro” laptops could feature only Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

Finally, the anonymous supply chain source also reportedly indicated that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro will be “thicker than currently available MacBook Airs but thinner than MacBook Pros.”

Thursday’s report does stand in contrast to an earlier rumor which characterized the forthcoming notebook update as a 15-inch MacBook Air, rather than a MacBook Pro. The confusion likely stems from the fact that Apple’s next MacBook Pros are expected to feature the same design as the ultraportable MacBook Air and ditch the optical disc drive to create a thinner device.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and we’ll sort this out eventually…

Rumor: Apple to release 15-inch MacBook Air this April, thereby ‘effectively killing the Pro’

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 07:57
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Even if it’s just a rumor, there’s often a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per Electricpig, rumors of a larger 15-inch MacBook Air continue to surface, with the latest claim suggesting Apple is gearing up to launch a larger ultraportable notebook in April.

A Mac accessory maker who spoke at the CU Exposed show this week indicated that Apple is “likely” to launch its 15-inch MacBook Air in April. The anonymous source said the thin-and-light notebook would be similar to current MacBook Air models, with ports on both sides and no optical drive or Ethernet port.

The vendor reportedly speculated that the new 15-inch MacBook Air would “effectively (kill) the (MacBook) Pro for the average consumer.” They suggested that the new MacBook Air could even replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro, leaving the “Pro” moniker only to Apple’s high-end 17-inch model.

Whether Apple’s new 15-inch ultra-thin notebook is known as a “Pro” or an Air,” the model has been rumored since last year. While it will lack an optical drive, as Apple continues its push for digital distribution of software through the Mac App Store, the new notebooks will be powered by Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are scheduled to go on sale in the coming months.

Wednesday’s claim of a 15-inch MacBook Air launch next month comes on the heels of a separate rumor that claimed Apple was forced to drop Nvidia’s next-generation “Kepler” graphics processors from its next low- and mid-range MacBook upgrades, leaving the systems to rely on Intel’s integrated graphics solutions. Currently, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro models use Intel HD Graphics 3000, but the company’s higher-end 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros feature dedicated graphics processors from AMD.

A thinner and lighter 15-inch MacBook Pro without a dedicated graphics card could be difficult to differentiate from a 15-inch MacBook Air, which is why the anonymous accessory maker sees Apple “effectively killing the Pro” model. In anticipation of an upcoming MacBook refresh, their company’s manufacturers are reportedly prepared to build and ship a new product in less than 90 days.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to drop Nvidia Kepler GPUs for low and mid-range 2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, 09:53
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

Whatever you were expecting the graphics card to be on the next-generation MacBook Pro, Apple might have something else in mind.

Per SemiAccurate, Apple’s next-generation low- and mid-range MacBook Pro models will not feature dedicated graphics cards, and will instead rely on Intel’s integrated Ivy Bridge graphics due to production issues with Nvidia.

Apple has dropped Nvidia’s next-generation Kepler graphics cards from a “large number” of its upcoming notebooks according to the report filed on Tuesday. The change has allegedly prompted Apple to adopt Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs that have higher shader counts, in order to offset some of the lost graphics processing power.

The change was reportedly made because Nvidia “can’t supply enough small GPUs” to Apple and other PC makers. That’s left Apple in a position where its next-generation low- and mid-range MacBook models “are not going to have a GPU, only a GT2 Ivy Bridge,” the report said.

“Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience,” it continued. “This doesn’t mean Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small.”

The rumored issues apparently stem from the fact that Nvidia has struggled with its 28-nanometer manufacturing process for its next-generation graphics processors, code-named “Kepler.” As a result, some mid-range MacBooks will feature dedicated Nvidia GPUs, and some won’t, Tuesday’s report claimed.

The same site first reported last November that Apple would switch back to Nvidia GPUs for its 2012 MacBook models. Higher end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched early last year relied solely on AMD graphics, while the entry-level 13-inch model features integrated Intel graphics.

Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pros are expected to feature a radically redesigned exterior, borrowing features from the company’s popular ultraportable MacBook Air. They are expected to be based on Intel’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge chip architecture.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.