Originally Posted by mjteix
That depends on the redesign (of the MBP). 2.30GHz with integrated graphics would be the top-end option on a 13" MBA, depending on where Apple wants to go with the MBP, the 2012 version could be quad-core + dedicated graphics + SSD blade standard AND 2.5" HDD/SSD bay, along with the same hirez display. So the gap would widen.
With everybody and their sisters moving to smaller manufacturing processes for NAND, I'd say... with the next revision of the MBA! Whenever that happens... I don't know really, before the end of year, but don't expect much lower prices, yet, because you'll need more dense chips to achieve 512GB on a blade. 2012 will be the year of the 20s: 22nm cpus, 24nm SSD, 28nm gpus...
A 2011 15" MBA would probably use a 1680*1050 display (optional on the 15" MBP), I don't expect much more from Apple yet. You don't need
dedicated graphics for that. If Apple releases a 15" MBA, I don't think it will have higher cpu/gpu specs than the 13" model, but better battery life.
What interest in this discussion tells me is that there is significant consumer demand for a MacBook Air that has sufficient power and memory to be a primary machine. People want lighter and thinner laptops with a form factor that doesn't sacrifice processing power or battery life. This is the need that Apple must fill with either the MacBook Air or a revised MacBook Pro that junks the ODD.
A refresh of the MacBook Air with 2.30 Ghz i7 with integrated GPU would seriously overlap with the current 13" MacBook Pro. But, this is necessarily a bad thing, because a higher performing MBA would allow Apple to push the 13" MBP towards the 15" MBP in terms of spec: increased processor power, more BTO options and higher price point.
Of course, once the MBP loses its on-board DVD drive, the distinction between the two models becomes even more blurred. Apple could junk the 13" MacBook Pro altogether and simply go with 15" and 17" models. So I tend to agree with whomever said that 'Airs' could be 11" and 13" thin and light computers, while 'Pros' would be larger 15" and 17' standard laptop computers.
Timing will be everything. Dumping the ODD is a risk for Apple, so my bet is that the MacBook Pro won't lose the on-board DVD until Apple is certain that all DVD media types are available on USB or Thunderbolt disks and the timing is ripe. I think we're talking about at least 12 months for redesigned MBPs.
However, when OSX 10.7 Lion launches, Apple will want to introduce new computers simultaneously to entice customers to switch. For sure, the iMac will get a refresh, but I doubt that the MacBook Pros will do so too, because the recent update will still be too recent at only around 5 or 6 months before Lion arrives. So, maybe a revised macBook Air in July 2011 is more likely?
I think the whole idea of a MacBook Air refresh hinges on blades with more memory. If the Air uses the new 32nm i7 - 2649M chipset, would it take-up less interior real estate to allow another blade to be added? If it doesn't, maybe a larger, say 15", MacBook Air would be able to carry a 512 GB SSD?
Until the 2nd MBA model the Air line-up wasn't exactly smoking. Now it has momentum, what better way to maintain it than with a new 15" version? A 2011 15" MBA would make a worthy addition to the MacBook Air range and establish it as a key product SKU for Apple.
If a 15" MBA uses the same chipset with Intel's integrated GPU, you should get good processor performance and great battery life. This would also give Apple another refresh opportunity for the existing MacBook Pro design before dumping the ODD, maximising ROI for the current model range.
In summary, the forthcoming MBA line-up could look like this:
11" MacBook Air - Core i5-2537M (3M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.40 GHz 32nm) - 2 GB RAM, 64 GB-128 GB SSD
11" MacBook Air - Core i7-2657M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.60 GHz 32nm) - 2 GB RAM, 64 GB-128 GB SSD
13" MacBook Air - Core i7-2629M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.10 GHz 32nm) - 2 GB RAM, 128 GB-256 GB SSD
13" MacBook Air - Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz 32nm) - 4 GB RAM, 128 GB-256 GB SSD
15" MacBook Air - Core i7-2629M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.10 GHz 32nm) - 4 GB RAM, 256 GB-512 GB SSD
15" MacBook Air - Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz 32nm) - 4 GB RAM, 256 GB-512 GB SSD
On the other hand, Apple could divide the Air and Pro ranges into 11" and 13' machines and 15" and 17" machines respectively. That would make sense so long as you could add BTO options to the 13" Air that would put it on a par with low-end 15" MacBook Pro.
The next question is whether there will be a more basic MacBook below the Air? And, if so, what will it be made from?