Intel confirms SATA controller chip flaw, may delay MacBook Pro refresh

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Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 05:30
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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If Apple’s notebook refresh is taking a bit longer than you’d like, it might just be Intel’s fault.

Earlier Monday, Intel acknowledged that a supporting chipset for the next-generation Core processors contained a flaw in the Serial-ATA (SATA) controller. The bug can cause poor hard drive performance or even make the drive invisible to the system.

Per Computerworld, Intel said it has stopped shipments of the flawed chipsets and retooled the chipset. It will begin shipping the fixed version late next month, and said that it “expects full volume recovery in April.”

The design gaffe could effect Apple’s next MacBook Pro refresh if the notebook line is to get new processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, as many speculated last month.

According to Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with the Linley Group (the publishers of Microprocessor Report) the mobile version of the supporting chipset may have been flawed.

In an e-mail reply to Macworld UK’s questions, Krewell pointed out a pair of Intel documents that note the mobile versions of the chipset use the same 6Gbps and 3Gbps ports as those used in the desktop versions.

According to Anandtech.com, the flaw affects only the 3Gbps ports — the chipsets’ SATA controller also offers faster-speed 6Gbps ports — making the likelihood of an impact on notebook makers even higher.

While the signs point to a problem for Apple, analysts split today on whether a MacBook Pro refresh would be delayed.

“It could mean a delay of two to three weeks,” said Martin Reynolds, a vice president with Gartner, assuming Apple intended to launch new MacBook Pros in March or even April.

Dan Olds, a senior analyst with Portland, Ore.-based Gabriel Consulting Group, disagreed.

“I don’t think Intel has shipped any [Sandy Bridge] chipsets for mobile yet,” Olds said. “I haven’t heard any chatter from the major players [about upcoming notebooks that use the chipsets], like Dell, for example.”

The unknown, of course, is when Apple was planning to launch revamped MacBook Pro models that rely on the Sandy Bridge architecture, and thus, the flawed chipsets.

Most close Apple watchers have been expecting an imminent refresh. Although Apple doesn’t hew to a set schedule for upgrades, the last time it boosted the MacBook Pro was in April 2010, nearly 300 days ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Updated MacBook Pro units may be in the pipeline

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Date: Thursday, January 27th, 2011, 07:54
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Good things come to those who wait.

Per the cool cats at MacRumors, Apple could be preparing to refresh the MacBook Pro product line amid reports that stocks of the 15″ and 17″ models are running low.

The site is claiming that both Apple Stores and third-party retailer supplies are dwindling, suggesting that stocks are being run down in preparation for new models.

Amazon.com says that customers ordering some variants of the MacBook Pro, particularly the 17″ model, will have a long wait, quoting delivery times of between one and two months.

There appear to be some left on the site, though several lines are down to the last few units.

The MacBook Pro line got its last refresh in April of 2010 with the introduction of Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors. It is widely expected that the next refresh of the MacBook Pro line will happen in the next few months.

Rumor: Apple to release redesigned MacBook Pro, iMac units in first half of 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:44
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Since it’s the rumors that keep you hankering for new technology, here we go:

Per Taiwanese technology industry publication Digitimes, sources from “upstream component makers” indicate that Apple will introduce the upgraded models in the first half of next year.

The Mac maker reportedly plans to launch “at least four upgraded MacBook Pros” with a “slight change” in chassis design and an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The upgraded iMac is expected to feature “a new panel size and a price point for the mainstream market,” according to the report.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at the “Back to the Mac” event in October. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will incorporate features brought back to the Mac from iOS, such as App Home Screens, full-screen apps, and expanded multi-touch gestures. According to Jobs, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the summer of 2011.

The first day of summer in 2011 is June 22, which would fit within the first half of 2011 timeframe from Digitimes’ most recent report. The report’s sources believe that the MacBook Pro upgrades will help Apple’s notebook shipments grow 30-40 percent year over year in 2011.

Other details were sparse in the report, however, next year’s Macs are generally expected to utilize Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel reportedly plans to formally unveil the new processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5th, 2011.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in July that the company had decided to accelerate production in response to the “very strong reception” of Sandy Bridge CPUs by the chipmaker’s customers.

2011 MacBook Pro may include Light Peak, USB 3.0, do away with DVD drives

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 06:46
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Back in 1998, Apple veered its user base away from the floppy disk drive, whether people were ready or not.

This could happen again next year, if to a smaller degree.

According to Three Guys and a Podcast, Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro will likely arrive in April 2011 with a new design inspired by the latest slim-line MacBook Air. That means that the high-end laptops will probably dispense with spinning drives altogether and come equipped only with solid-state drives of up to 512GB capacity.

With the internal speed bottlenecks reduced by the flash memory drives and new Sandy Bridge CPUs, Apple will also work on speeding up the external communication interfaces. The much-sought-after Light Peak port technology may finally debut on the MBP, as will USB 3.0. The fate of Firewire is unknown at this time, but it seems unlikely to make the cut, especially if Light Peak is included. The one exception may be if Apple keeps one of the current generation 15″ machines in the lineup as an entry model. If the 13″ MBP also remains in the lineup, the new interfaces, CPUs and perhaps a higher resolution display will be what set it apart from the similarly sized Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you’d make of such a notebook in the comments.

Apple releases firmware updates for mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 04:39
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released two EFI firmware updates for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebook line. The MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.0, available for the 13″ MacBooks and MacBook Pros released earlier this year, resolve an issue that had caused purple discoloration when some systems were connected to an external display.

The EFI firmware downloads are available directly from Apple’s support site or via Software Update and are also available as a 1.98 megabyte download.

If you’ve tried the new updates, please let us know how they went and if anything caught fire.

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

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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

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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.

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.

Nvidia settles class action lawsuit, some MacBook Pro owners eligible for compensation

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Date: Wednesday, September 29th, 2010, 14:39
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Sometimes litigation comes in handy.

Per CNET, a number of users who discovered that their 2007 and 2008 MacBook Pro systems contained graphics problems that showed either scrambled video output or sometimes black screens are in for some compensation.

A recent class-action lawsuit against Nvidia over faults in the GeForce 8600M graphics processors included in a variety of notebook models primarily from Dell and HP, but also in Apple’s 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro notebooks.

Users who have MacBook Pro systems manufactured between 2007 and 2008 and who are experiencing video problems (black or scrambled output) will be eligible to have their systems fixed for free. Reimbursements will be paid to people who have had these problems fixed at their own expense.

If you feel you are entitled to the benefits of this settlement, you can register to have your system fixed at the Nvidia GPU Litigation Web site. The site features a specific model check section where you can see if your computer is eligible for repairs, so take a gander and let us know how it goes.

Apple releases Magic Trackpad Bluetooth input device

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Date: Wednesday, July 28th, 2010, 07:34
Category: Accessory, News

On Tuesday, Apple released the Magic Trackpad accessory, calling it “…a multi-touch Bluetooth trackpad meant to work with your desktop computer.” Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the unit resembles an oversized MacBook Pro trackpad (except about 80% larger) perched atop the same battery case that’s on Apple’s Bluetooth keyboards.

When paired with an Apple desktop, it offers the same multi-touch gestures that laptop owners enjoy. Use it to swipe, pinch and scroll. Inertial scrolling on the Magic Trackpad reacts to the pressure and speed you use.

The surface is made of wear-resistant glass and also functions as a giant button, so you can click away as you would with a mouse.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve picked one up, let us know what you make of it.