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.

Rumor: Apple may be considering 14-inch MacBook Pro form factor for Asian marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 12:47
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

The rumors may not always be right, but they keep things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, Apple may be weighing the prospect of a new 14-inch MacBook Air model designed specifically to cater to the Asian PC market.

Currently, the MacBook Air is only available in screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches. There have been rumors that Apple is planning to launch a new 15-inch model of the MacBook Air at some point this year, expanding its ultraportable lineup to a larger screen size.

But while Western countries prefer the 15-inch screen size, in the Asia market, 14-inch notebooks account for as much as 40 percent of sales. It’s because of the market’s “fondness for 14-inch models” that Apple is said to be considering a screen size specifically for that region.

“The sources analyzed that Apple is currently turning its targets from North American and Europe to Asia, and is eyeing the China market as its major market since the company still has strong potential in the country,” the report reads. “The consideration of a 14-inch MacBook Air would be an indication the company will become even more aggressive about the China market.”

With Apple expected to dramatically redesign its high-end MacBook Pro lineup this year, there has been some question as to whether a new thin-and-light 15-inch notebook would be an “Air” or a “Pro” notebook. Earlier this month, AppleInsider quoted a person familiar with Apple’s new MacBook Pro designs who indicated: “They’re all going to look like MacBook Airs.”

Apple’s next generation of notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors. This week, an official from the chipmaker stated that the CPUs have been delayed, and will go on sale eight to 10 weeks later than originally planned, likely in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Thinner, 13 and 15-inch next-gen MacBook Pro units could arrive as early as April

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:02
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

The new stuff’s en route, you’ll just have to be a bit patient.

New 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros with a thinner and lighter design are expected to launch in April “at the soonest,” with an initial shipment of just under a million units.

Per DigiTimes, sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain have indicated indicated that the company will launch upgraded MacBook Pros as early as April, with about 900,000 units expected to be shipped at launch. A redesigned version of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is apparently not expected at launch, as it was not mentioned in Wednesday’s report.

The rumor is consistent with stories published earlier this month, revealing that Apple will launch a larger 17-inch model later than the 15-inch model the company is said to be prioritizing. Apple employed the same approach when it redesigned its MacBook Pro lineup in 2008, as the lower-volume 17-inch model became available a few months later.

Apple’s upgraded MacBook Pro lineup along with new MacBook Airs and the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Mac operating system upgrade are expected in the industry to pose a “significant threat” to notebooks designed to Intel’s thin-and-light Ultrabook specification.

“Since Intel is delaying the mass supply of its Ivy Bridge CPUs from April to June, notebook vendors are concerned about… the postponed launch schedules of their ultrabooks, as it may give Apple advantages in terms of time-to-market,” the report said.

Earlier this week, an Intel executive indicated that the company’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips are expected to debut eight to 10 weeks later than previously planned. That would push the launch of those chips from April until June.

It’s possible that Apple could still launch new notebooks powered by Ivy Bridge as early as April, if Intel were to give the Mac maker early access to its first run of processors. In the past, Apple has been given early availability of Intel’s latest technology before other PC makers.

As Apple gears up to revamp its MacBook Pro lineup and borrow design cues from its successful MacBook Air, PC makers are still hoping to capitalize on the Ultrabook specification being pushed by Intel. Ultrabooks are intended to be less than 21 millimeters thick, weigh no more than 3.1 pounds, use flash-based solid-state drives, and offer 5 to 8 hours of battery life.

But initial Ultrabooks from Windows-based PC makers struggled to compete with Apple on price, as the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air carries a US$999 cost. And they also felt the squeeze from Apple on components, as PC makers struggled to obtain unibody metal notebook chassis for their products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for late 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 16:08
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

el17.jpg

Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for its late 2008, 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks. The update a 3 megabyte download, resolves a graphics issue that may cause the internal display to flicker.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

DDR3 DRAM prices drop to all-time low

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, News

If you were looking to upgrade your RAM, there’s literally never been a better time for it.

Per Macworld, prices of DDR3 DRAM memory used in notebooks and desktops have dipped to an all-time low of around US$1, and will continue to fall, which could help PC makers pack more memory into computers, analysts said.

Average prices for predominant 2Gb (gigabit) DDR3 DRAM die hit the US$1 mark during the first quarter, which is a massive drop from the average price of roughly US$2.25 for the same memory in the first quarter last year, according to research firm iSuppli. A 4GB (gigabyte) DRAM module was priced between US$18 and US$20 at the end of 2011, a precipitous drop from $40 at the end of 2010.

The price of a 2Gb DRAM chip was between 82 cents and 95 cents on Wednesday, according to DRAMExchange, a website that tracks daily memory pricing.

The drop in memory prices is a continuation of a trend from last year, analysts said. A shortfall in PC demand hurt memory pricing last year, but memory makers are still moving excess inventory into the market rapidly, which has contributed to the continued price drop.

“We’re at a historical all-time low, yes,” said Mike Howard, senior principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. “It costs Dell and Hewlett-Packard less now than a year ago to put the same amount of memory in the PC.”

Instead of packing more memory, some PC makers have opted to load the same amount of memory in PCs to cover the rising cost of other components. Dell earlier this week said it was using the favorable memory and LCD pricing environment to offset the rising prices of hard drives, which were in short supply due to the floods in Thailand last year.

The DRAM industry fundamentals are weak, but memory makers are taking corrective action to balance supply and demand, iSuppli’s Howard said. Some of the existing manufacturing capacity is coming offline to reduce output, but the prices could continue to fall as long as the cost of making memory drops.

The pricing will continue to fall through the second quarter, said Shane Rau, research director at IDC.

“The issue is huge oversupply in the first and second quarter of 2012 and the resulting pricing competition among suppliers,” Rau said.

The DRAM market initially fell apart at the end of 2008 after the economic downturn prompted DRAM makers to reduce memory output. However, production went up the following year as PC demand recovered with the active refresh cycle and the release of the 64-bit version of Windows 7 in 2009, which allowed for a higher memory ceiling.

But PC shipments slowed down again in the second half of 2010 with growing demand for tablets and smartphones, which rely on different memory types such as low-power DDR and nonvolatile NAND flash memory. Some chip makers have now changed business models and are increasing focus on memory for tablets and smartphones.

Stay tuned for additional details.

In other news, I recently upgraded my 2011 MacBook Pro’s RAM to 16 gigabytes…and the ladies still haven’t really noticed.

Apple pulls plug on white MacBook notebook, product reaches “End of Life” status

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 9th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, MacBook, News

You had to like the white MacBook.

If nothing else, it was plucky and it looked pretty good when you were working on one in a coffee shop.

Unfortunately, Apple has reportedly notified resellers that the white polycarbonate MacBook is now officially classified as “End of Life” and has been discontinued.

Per MacRumors, Apple has stopped selling the white notebook to even its educational markets and notified resellers that the MacBook is now classified as “End of Life.”

The MacBook was Apple’s entry-level notebook for years, but it faced internal competition in 2010 with the release of the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which also started at US$999 and was an instant hit.

Apple introduced the MacBook in May 2006 during the transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. In 2008, it temporarily received an aluminum makeover, but that machine was later rebranded as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple released a unibody polycarbonate design in 2009 that remained until the product was discontinued last year.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2010 MacBook Air, Pro notebooks, adds Lion Recovery and sleep fix

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

applelogo_silver

Firmware updates…they get useful.

Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.6 for its early 2010 MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection on MacBook Pro (Early 2010) models.

The company also released MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.3 for its early 2010 MacBook Air notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection and also addresses an issue where the system would sometimes restart when the power button was pressed immediately after waking from deep sleep.

The updates can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware updates and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Updated Mac OS X 10.7.3 user interface notes could point towards Retina displays for future Macs

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:26
Category: Hardware, News

Analyze the new Mac OS X update’s source code and you find some interesting stuff.

Per Daring Fireball, a series of newly-upgraded high-DPI UI elements in Mac OS X 10.7.3 has led to some speculation that Apple is continuing to lay the groundwork for high-resolution Mac displays that approach the pixel density of its Retina Displays.

The article pointed to a series of Twitter posts (1, 2) outing UI resources that scale to larger sizes in the latest release of Mac OS X Lion, which arrived last week.

The new elements include the pointing-finger cursor in Safari, the “grabby hand” in Mail, and the camera cursor for taking screenshots and a few others. One straightforward reason for the change could be that Apple wanted to improve the look of the Universal Access zoom feature. But, reports from some Mac Mini users outputting to HDTVs over HDMI that upgrading to 10.7.3 caused their system to reboot into HiDPI mode have added to the mounting evidence that Apple is planning for high-definition Mac displays.

Apple added HiDPI modes to Mac OS X Lion last year, but they were previously only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the UI resolution doubling that takes place on Retina Display iPhones.

Gruber went on to wonder “whether we may be on the cusp of Apple releasing HiDPI Mac displays and/or HiDPI MacBooks. I.e.: retina display Macs.” He did, however, add that he has been anticipating “super-high-resolution Mac displays” for over five years, so his speculation should be taken with “a grain of wishful-thinking salt.”

Late last year, a rumor emerged that Apple was preparing new versions of its MacBook Pro lineup with double the resolution. The resulting display for a 15-inch MacBook Pro would be 2,880 by 1,800 pixels and is expected to set off “a new round of competition for panel specifications.”

Chipmaker Intel has indicated that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support resolutions up to 4K, or 4,096 by 4,096 pixels per monitor. Multiple reports have suggested that the company will launch its Ivy Bridge Processors in the second quarter of 2012, and Apple is expected to begin adding Ivy Bridge chips to its Macs in soon after. Wallpapers as large as 3,200 by 2,000 pixels were also discovered in a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.