Intel demonstrates Near-Field Communications on upcoming Ivy Bridge notebook architecture

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Date: Monday, January 9th, 2012, 10:49
Category: Accessory, Hardware, wireless

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This could prove spiffy.

Per Engadget and its CES coverage, Intel executive Mooly Eden has just confirmed that the company’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge chips will support Near-Field Communications (NFC), as demoed in a transaction involving a laptop and PayPass-enabled MasterCard.

NFC technology has yet to be truly demoed as incorporated into notebooks and it’ll be interesting to see which companies and developers pick up on this as well as whether this will find its way into upcoming Apple notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing ultrathin, optical-drive-free 15″ MacBook Pro notebook

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Never doubt the thin nature of the MacBook Air, as people tend to like it.

Per the Japanese Macotakara web blog, Apple is allegedly prepared to add a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook to its lineup in the near future, with one report claiming the company has finished development of a crucial test component.

Calling the new notebook model an extension of the MacBook Air family, Macotakara reported on Sunday that Apple is finishing up a “test phase” for the new 15-inch ultraportable. Citing an Asian source, the report said Apple has already finished development of an LCD test component for the anticipated notebook.

However, the report also noted that Apple is believed to be developing a next-generation MacBook Pro that will not have a built-in optical disc drive. The new 15-inch MacBook reportedly “seems to fill” the role of a next-generation MacBook Pro.

Whatever name the new portable Mac might take, rumors have suggested the current physical form factor of the MacBook Pro lineup will undergo a drastic redesign in 2012. For some time now it has been said that Apple will redesign its MacBook Pro lineup sometime next year.

Last week, Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup, adding slightly faster Intel Sandy Bridge processors, as well as improved AMD Radeon graphics. The new notebooks were a minor update ahead of the holiday buying season, believed to be an attempt to keep the MacBook Pro lineup competitive until a major refresh occurs next year.

Apple’s future MacBooks are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, and systems powered by the new CPUs should be available in the spring of 2012.

Currently, Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup comes with screen sizes of 13 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches, and all of its professional notebooks feature optical DVD disc drives. The MacBook Air is available with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, and all models feature only solid-state hard drives with no optical drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple quietly releases updated MacBook Pro notebook models

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Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:37
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Well, this one came by surprise.

Per AppleInsider, with no mention of the update, Apple on Monday improved its MacBook Pro lineup with slightly faster Intel processors, as well as new graphics processors and larger hard drives in some models.

The new entry-level MacBook Pro now sports a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU. It also features a larger 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive at the same cost of US$1,199.

The faster 13-inch MacBook Pro now boasts a 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, and its hard drive has also been upgraded to 750GB. It sells for US$1,499.

For the 15-inch models, both feature quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The low-end 15-inch has a clock speed of 2.2GHz and a 500GB hard drive, plus a faster AMD Radeon HD 6750M discrete graphics card with 512MB of GDDR5. The faster 15-inch runs at 2.4GHz with a 750GB hard drive and features the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5.

And the updated 17-inch MacBook Pro features a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with a 750GB hard drive, along with the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5. All MacBook Pro models come with 4GB of RAM clocked at 1333MHz standard.

Apple’s top-of-the-line build-to-order 17-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 for an additional US$250, while the RAM can be upgraded to 8GB for another US$200. All MacBook Pro models can also have their hard drives upgraded to solid state capacities up to 512GB for as much as US$1,200.

All of the new MacBook Pros are listed as in stock, and come with free shipping. Monday’s upgrade was done silently by Apple, as the company didn’t even list the updated notebooks as being “new” to the store. As of Monday morning, the iPhone 4S was still listed as Apple’s newest product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ordered a new MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Intel discusses Haswell achitecture, cites 24 hour notebook battery charge, 10 day standby, expected 2013 release date

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:43
Category: battery, Hardware, News

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Wait two years and your notebook’s battery life problems could get quite a bit easier to deal with.

Per Macworld, Intel’s next processor platform, code named Haswell, will offer more than 10 days of connected standby battery life and the ability to run your laptop for a full 24 hours on one charge.

Standby connected power will be decreased about 20 times over current Sandy Bridge processors. In real-life terms, this means you could put your laptop to sleep, unplugged, and it could still be working in the background, getting your emails and IMs, for ten days straight.

With 24 hours of battery life, those long-distance flights and day trips will no longer be a worry.

Intel also stated that this technology was slated for 2013, which means you have plenty of time to hanker for it.

For those looking to the more near-term, Intel is expected to released the Ivy Bridge chipset in 2012, which will use a new 22-nanometer architecture to replace the current Sandy Bridge architecture and help make laptops more power efficient in the process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hitachi announces new hard drives, cites new capacity of up to 1 terabyte per platter

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 03:56
Category: hard drive, News

There’s some good news: all the data you love, it just got packed in a bit tighter.

According to Macworld, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Tuesday announced that it’s started shipping hard disk drives that cram a terabyte of capacity onto a single spinning platter. The new technology allows Hitachi to produce slimmer form factors. The new single-platter technology is now shipping in the Hitachi Deskstar, Travelstar and CinemaStar lines in storage devices with capacities ranging from 250GB to 1TB.

Utilizing the higher-capacity platters, Hitachi said it has produced new 3.5-in wide, .27-in (7mm) thick “z-height” drives targeted at everything from desk tops and TV set top boxes to ultra thin and light notebooks.

For the ultra-thin and light notebook market, Hitachi’s Travelstar Z5K500 drives offer up to 636Gbit/sq. in. on a platter that spins at 5200RPMs.

Hitachi’s new Deskstar 7K1000.D 7200rpm and 5K1000.B 5200rpm drives, which utilize a 6Gbit/sec SATA interface and a 32MB cache buffer, are designed for commercial desktops, external storage arrays and PC gaming systems.

The new Deskstar line uses CoolSpin technology to save up to 15 percent power over standard drives by idling down the spindle. CoolSpin technology is an optimization of motor speed to provide a balance of performance, power utilization and acoustics.

Hitachi GST’s CinemaStar 7K1000.D and 5K1000.B hard drives are aimed at the market for storage-based TVs and DVRs that record, playback, surf and stream content from and to devices.

Single-disk capacities ranging from 250GB to 500GB make up about 90 percent of disk drive demand for consumer electronics devices. Hitachi’s new CinemaStar drive family now doubles that capacity for video content.

If you’ve picked up one of the new Hitachi models and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple developing 15 and 17-inch MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:25
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs selling like hotcakes, the company is believed to be working to introduce 15- and 17-inch models with a similar minimalist design to capitalize on the trend towards ultra-mobile computing.

Per MacRumors, the notebook is believed to be in the late testing stages, though no further details were provided. It’s therefore unclear at this time whether the device will be marketed under the MacBook Pro brand or arrive as an extension of the MacBook Air line.

A move away from the hefty, optical- and hard disk drive-equipped MacBook Pros and towards a family of notebooks based exclusively on thin, ultra-lightweight designs is something AppleInsider’s sources first began alluding to back in February. At the time, the transition was expected to take between 12 to 18 months.

The latest report may suggest Apple has ambitions of easing the transition by first introducing a 15-inch MacBook Air as an intermediate step. A jump towards an ultra-thin MacBook Pro before year’s end could ultimately prove burdened by too many sacrifices, given that existing technologies and componentry may not allow Apple to deliver a design as thin and lightweight as the existing Airs but powerful enough to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Nevertheless, sources close to the story have said that MacBook Air features such as instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures, and the omission of optical drives should begin making their way to the remainder of Apple’s notebook offerings over the course of the next 12 months.

In similar news, The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that the site has also heard rumors of an ultra-thin 17-inch Apple notebook and believes both models could potentially turn up ahead of the holiday shopping season under the MacBook Pro moniker.

iFixIt teardown points out upgradable SSD in 2011 MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 03:43
Category: MacBook Air, News

They snagged it.

And they dissected it.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the mighty iFixIt team had performed a full teardown of the 2011 13″ MacBook Air.

One of the nicer things to come out of the teardown was the news that the internal solid-state drive isn’t soldered to the logic board, meaning that MBA owners who would like more storage and don’t have an issue with invalidating their warranty can open the computer and install a drive with more capacity. While Apple’s MacBook Air storage solutions max out at 256 GB, while other providers offer faster SSDs with capacities up to 480 GB.

Unfortunately, none of the MacBook Air models are able to take more than 4 GB of RAM, which is soldered onto the logic board.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve picked up a new MacBook Air, please let us know how the experience has been.

Apple discontinues $999 white MacBook

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 07:22
Category: MacBook, News

It’s kind of turning into a day of days, news-wise.

In the midst of news, updates and product releases, Apple has officially axed the US$999 white plastic MacBook, which has held down the low-cost end of Apple’s laptop line for years.

Per Macworld, the notebook was bumped off by the brand new US$999 MacBook Air, which boasts a Thunderbolt port and Intel Core i5 processors over the MacBook. As of now, if you want to buy the lowest-price Mac laptop available, it will still cost US$999—but now it’ll have an 11.6-inch display and a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor. Users who demand a 13-inch laptop will now pay US$200 more—the base-level 13-inch MacBook Pro retails for US$1199.

Still, it had a good run… and if you need any consolation, I’ve made a stack of G4 Cube units into a pretty nifty local bar in your area.

Intel lists three new processors that could find their way into next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 05:56
Category: MacBook Air, News, Processors

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With everything that’s being said about Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air, it’s time to meet the potential processors for the notebook.

Per CNET, Intel has added three new high efficiency Sandy Bridge CPUs to its product catalog, likely representing the chips Apple will use in its next refresh of the light and thin MacBook Air.

The ULV (ultra low voltage) parts consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, as opposed to the mainstream Sandy Bridge chips Apple uses in its full size MacBook Pro lineup.

The standard Sandy Bridge chips in Apple’s Pro notebooks dissipate 25 to 35 watts, making them too hot (and too battery taxing) to use in the considerably thinner Air machines.

The new lineup consists of three part numbers:
- Core i7-2677M: dual cores running at 1.8 GHz (peaking to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$317

- Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$289

- Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for US$250

Intel sees a big market for notebooks similar to Apple’s MacBook Air, which the chipmaker calls “ultrabooks.” When Apple first released the Air, it was criticized for not being thin enough and giving up too many features while using a full sized keyboard.

Apple has since made the Air lineup thinner and reduced the price while retaining a full size keyboard and moving exclusively to SSD storage, which supports very fast booting, wake and program launching.

The report cited analyst Doug Freedman of Gleacher & Company, who refers to machines like the Mac Book Air as “SSD notebooks,” as commenting that “In the 4-year lifespan of [Apple's] iconic MacBook Air, units sold as a percentage of its total notebook supply was 8 percent in 2008, 9 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2010 to an estimated 48 percent in 2011.”

“We expect total notebook SSD penetration at a conservative 5 percent in 2011 growing to 30 percent in 2014,” Freedman stated. He noted that Intel is planning to bundle its own SSD storage devices with its CPUs to sell PC makers packages of components, something the company already does with CPUs and chipsets.

However, Apple introduced SSD options for its latest MacBook Airs using specialized components rather than conventional SSDs built to fill the same space as a conventional notebook hard drive, such as those built by Intel. That has enabled the company to further reduce weight and thickness in the Air designs.

If you have any thoughts on the next-gen MacBook Air, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to enter mass-production in June

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for the upcoming MacBook Air, it might be closer than you think.

Per AppleInsider, the second-generation of Apple’s revitalized MacBook Air notebooks are scheduled to enter mass production during the month of June, with an initial build volume hovering around 400,000 units.

Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the Mac maker has placed orders for the production of a total of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs this month.

The analyst, whose industry checks have long provided accurate insight into the Cupertino-based company’s future hardware plans, notes that roughly 55% (or 209,000) of those MacBook Airs will be of the 11.6-inch varieties, which have proven slightly more popular than the 13.3-inch offerings due to their more attractive entry-level price points.

In addition, Kuo notes that Apple plans to wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units, bringing the total number of MacBook Airs slated for production in June to 460,000.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

And a big part of that notebook lineup has become the MacBook Air. A source familiar with Apple’s supply chain stated back in March that the ultra-thin notebooks were then selling in volumes roughly half that of MacBook Pros, as customers have embraced the thinner, lighter and less expensive offerings during a phase when computing is increasingly shifting to the mobile space.

Apple shipped more than a million units of the new MacBook Air in its first quarter of availability, but rumors of an upgraded model with Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors quickly began to swirl as far back as February.

The new MacBook Airs set to go into production this month will move to to Intel’s 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge architecture, with the chipmakers’ latest ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips. With the upgrade to Sandy Bridge, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips found in the current offering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.