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Apple rumored to update MacBook Air with Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU in June - Page 2

post #41 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I put little faith in those tests. We need Apple hardware and drivers before getting to convinced of anything.

Battery life should be very good, there is little doubt there.

Intels integrated graphics might be good enough to replace current integrated hardware. We should find out real soon what Apple thinks. If they do go Intel SB only the new machine should provide for amazing performance combined with excellent battery time. These are ideal for Mac Books and maybe even a 13" MBP.


how could you forget.... OPENCL

PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

Reply

PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

Reply
post #42 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post

how could you forget.... OPENCL

Which Intel has said will be covered by the CPU. So not the GPU based OpenCL support we would prefer, but they do have some answer at least. Hopefully Ivy Bridge has a more complete answer, not to mention DX11. Considering games that actually have optimizations for DX11 see pretty significant boosts (activating DX11 for WoW gives a 20-30% across the board improvement), it would be very nice if that was up to date. That, Open CL and no native USB3 are really the main downsides to SB.
post #43 of 75
Now we've seen the relative improvements offered by Sandy Bridge processors in the MacBook Pro, it must be all but certain that AI's prediction of a June refresh for the Air will see this line-up go the SB route too. I

What makes me concur is that Intel's on-board 3000 GPU in the i7 13" MBP is actually not as bad as everyone feared. So a revised MacBook Air with a Core i7-2657M with 2C/4T, running at 1.6 GHz with 17 W TDP, the same 3000 GPU and 4 GB of RAM as standard should lose very little compared to the 13" Pro model.

Were an increased size SSD offered as a BTO option, say 512 Gb, then it would be even more attractive. You'd effectively have a MBP without the optical drive and with a better screen resolution. Very tempting for all those who wanted a new form factor with the MBP and didn't get one. (I wouldn't buy any Mac without 500 Gbs of hard disk space.)

It has been said elsewhere, but once Ivy Bridge is launched, it will force a convergence of the MacBook Air 13" and the MacBook Pro 13" models. I agree. We should definitely see a single 13" model, but will it be called the Air or the Pro? Who cares? Whatever the handle, this is the machine that everyone wants.
post #44 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Now we've seen the relative improvements offered by Sandy Bridge processors in the MacBook Pro, it must be all but certain that AI's prediction of a June refresh for the Air will see this line-up go the SB route too. I

What makes me concur is that Intel's on-board 3000 GPU in the i7 13" MBP is actually not as bad as everyone feared. So a revised MacBook Air with a Core i7-2657M with 2C/4T, running at 1.6 GHz with 17 W TDP, the same 3000 GPU and 4 GB of RAM as standard should lose very little compared to the 13" Pro model.

Were an increased size SSD offered as a BTO option, say 512 Gb, then it would be even more attractive. You'd effectively have a MBP without the optical drive and with a better screen resolution. Very tempting for all those who wanted a new form factor with the MBP and didn't get one. (I wouldn't buy any Mac without 500 Gbs of hard disk space.)

It has been said elsewhere, but once Ivy Bridge is launched, it will force a convergence of the MacBook Air 13" and the MacBook Pro 13" models. I agree. We should definitely see a single 13" model, but will it be called the Air or the Pro? Who cares? Whatever the handle, this is the machine that everyone wants.

I would believe that the 17W Sandy Bridge cpus will go in the 11" MBA, not the 13". Currently the 11" MBA uses a 10W C2D and a 10-12W 320M chipset, with a 17W SB cpu and a 3.5W Intel QS67 chipset, the total TDP would be similar.
Core i5-2537M (3M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.40 GHz 32nm) $250
Core i7-2617M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.50 GHz 32nm) $289
Core i7-2657M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.60 GHz 32nm) $317

Same thing for the 13" models: currently 17W C2D + 10-12W 320M chipset, replaced by a 25W SB cpu and a 3.5W Intel QS67 chipset.
Core i7-2629M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.10 GHz 32nm) $311
Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz 32nm) $346

It's sure that a 2.30GHz MBA (probably at around $1400 with 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD, $1700 with 256GB SSD) could be a real threat to the current 13" MBP that costs $1449 with a 128GB SSD, $1849 with 256GB SSD. That's why the 13" MBP has to evolve to offer much better specs, including dedicated graphics and SSD storage standard, even if it has to loose the ODD.

We are probably at a crossroads this year, on the verge of a shift to ODD-less notebooks, it's probably just a little too soon, but early next year, I believe we could get 3 designs from Apple:
- MBA, thin and light, integrated gpus, SSD, no ODD, hirez displays, 11", 13" and maybe 15"
- MBP, new enclosures, dedicated gpus, SSD+HDD, no ODD, hirez displays, 13", 15" and maybe 17"
- MacBook "classic", various cpu/gpu configs, HDD+ODD, standard rez displays, 13", 15" & 17" (those could be very similar to the current MBP models, but at lower prices), Apple would keep alive the models that continue to sell, like the 13" for education, or else...

$999 11" MBA 1.40 Core i5-2537M 2GB RAM 128GB SSD
$1199 11" MBA 1.60 Core i7-2657M 4GB RAM 128GB SSD
BTO: 256GB SSD blade +$300
$1299 13" MBA 2.10 Core i7-2629M 4GB RAM 128GB SSD, TB port
$1599 13" MBA 2.10 Core i7-2629M 4GB RAM 256GB SSD, TB port
BTO: 2.30 Core i7-2649M +$100, 512GB SSD blade +$600
post #45 of 75
mjteix,

If Apple can put in an i7 SB running at 2.3 Ghz with 25 W TDP, that would be much better. Of course, the overlap with the 13" MBP will be noticeably greater. When it arrives, I think a lot of people will upgrade to this machine and forget about waiting for the 13" MacBook Pro redesign.

I'll say again that I think the success of the refresh will depend on Apple offering SSD hard drives with a capacity greater than 256 Gb. Any idea when 512 Gb blades will be available?

You mentioned the possibility of a 15" MacBook Air. Such a machine would be amazing, but would I imagine need better graphics and hi res displays to make best use of that extra screen real estate?
post #46 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

mjteix,

If Apple can put in an i7 SB running at 2.3 Ghz with 25 W TDP, that would be much better. Of course, the overlap with the 13" MBP will be noticeably greater. When it arrives, I think a lot of people will upgrade to this machine and forget about waiting for the 13" MacBook Pro redesign.

I'll say again that I think the success of the refresh will depend on Apple offering SSD hard drives with a capacity greater than 256 Gb. Any idea when 512 Gb blades will be available?

You mentioned the possibility of a 15" MacBook Air. Such a machine would be amazing, but would I imagine need better graphics and hi res displays to make best use of that extra screen real estate?

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.
post #47 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjteix View Post

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?
post #48 of 75
(bump)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

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.

[snip]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

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?

Was *this close* to updating my 17" MBP (2006) this past month with the new SB MBP's but held off (mostly because I was a few $$$ short). I had looked at a MBA as a primary but it just isn't feasible -- C2D, no 512GB, 4GB max. It would crimp my workflow in too many ways when running Logic.

If the MBA updates to SB and they address the SSD and/or max ram, I'm buying. Never thought I wold do it, but it would make a great primary machine for me.
post #49 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post

(bump)
[snip]

Was *this close* to updating my 17" MBP (2006) this past month with the new SB MBP's but held off (mostly because I was a few $$$ short). I had looked at a MBA as a primary but it just isn't feasible -- C2D, no 512GB, 4GB max. It would crimp my workflow in too many ways when running Logic.

If the MBA updates to SB and they address the SSD and/or max ram, I'm buying. Never thought I wold do it, but it would make a great primary machine for me.

Nice bump.

The blade storage approach is a great idea but unfortunately Apple has only been putting one slot into each of its machines. The problem there is that tech is rapidly changing with higher density flash becoming far more economical as time progresses. Thus a slot for an easy upgrade makes a lot of sense for the user.

The thirteen inch AIR really should have two blade slots and the MBP should have 3 to 4 depending upon size. I don't think Apple understands how attractive this would make their laptops.
post #50 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Nice bump.

The blade storage approach is a great idea but unfortunately Apple has only been putting one slot into each of its machines. The problem there is that tech is rapidly changing with higher density flash becoming far more economical as time progresses. Thus a slot for an easy upgrade makes a lot of sense for the user.

The thirteen inch AIR really should have two blade slots and the MBP should have 3 to 4 depending upon size. I don't think Apple understands how attractive this would make their laptops.

The thing with the MBA is that it has to be absolutely *perfect* for it to be considered a primary machine (or even a go-to workhorse for more than just web, email, etc).

With my old MBP there was always an express card where I could slot in a removable SSD, or do a ODD -> SSD kit, or <fill in the blank>. The MBPs have the power and flexibility to cover most users needs; a MBA has to be absolutely perfect.

I don't know enough about the 13" MBA's interior design, but I have the feeling that it can't accommodate a 512GB SSD, 8GB, and a dedicated gp.

Would a 15" MBA even make sense? At first I thought so, yes, I would buy one... but given the potential price, it wouldn't make sense. Now this has me thinking about the unibody redesign, dropping the ODD, the convergence of the MBA and MBP ad nauseum. I'm chasing my tail so I better stop now.
post #51 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post

The thing with the MBA is that it has to be absolutely *perfect* for it to be considered a primary machine (or even a go-to workhorse for more than just web, email, etc).

With my old MBP there was always an express card where I could slot in a removable SSD, or do a ODD -> SSD kit, or <fill in the blank>. The MBPs have the power and flexibility to cover most users needs; a MBA has to be absolutely perfect.

I don't know enough about the 13" MBA's interior design, but I have the feeling that it can't accommodate a 512GB SSD, 8GB, and a dedicated gp.

Would a 15" MBA even make sense? At first I thought so, yes, I would buy one... but given the potential price, it wouldn't make sense. Now this has me thinking about the unibody redesign, dropping the ODD, the convergence of the MBA and MBP ad nauseum. I'm chasing my tail so I better stop now.

I think Apple has made a mistake by not making the SSD drive upgradeable on the MacBook Air.

I wonder if it will rectify this by eliminating blade modules when the Air is revised and return to a conventional 2.5" SSD in 256 GB and 512 GB sizes - since costs have now come down? I don't think it would be too difficult to change, although it might require a redesigned battery.

I have now come round to thinking that a 13" MBA with a Core i7 2.3 Ghz 2649M SB processor, 4 GB of RAM, 256 Gb SSD (and 512 GB SSD as a BTO option) could be viable as a primary computer. I think the on-board Intel GPU is fine.

@Wizard69

Dave, any chance you could explain in simple terms what the addition of Thunderbolt slot would mean for the Air?
post #52 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

I think Apple has made a mistake by not making the SSD drive upgradeable on the MacBook Air.

I wonder if it will rectify this by eliminating blade modules when the Air is revised and return to a conventional 2.5" SSD in 256 GB and 512 GB sizes - since costs have now come down? I don't think it would be too difficult to change, although it might require a redesigned battery.

I have now come round to thinking that a 13" MBA with a Core i7 2.3 Ghz 2649M SB processor, 4 GB of RAM, 256 Gb SSD (and 512 GB SSD as a BTO option) could be viable as a primary computer. I think the on-board Intel GPU is fine.

@Wizard69

Dave, any chance you could explain in simple terms what the addition of Thunderbolt slot would mean for the Air?

I'm also curious if a sandy bridge Mac Air would drop the frontside bus? (is SB inherently sans FSB?)

If the FSB was dropped, the SSD + i7 combo would pretty much eliminate any bottlenecks the Mac Air had in comparison to the MBP. Or am I missing another weak link in the MA chain? As much as I love WoW, an intel GPU wouldn't be a barrier to me using it as a primary computer.
post #53 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post

I'm also curious if a sandy bridge Mac Air would drop the frontside bus? (is SB inherently sans FSB?)

If the FSB was dropped, the SSD + i7 combo would pretty much eliminate any bottlenecks the Mac Air had in comparison to the MBP. Or am I missing another weak link in the MA chain? As much as I love WoW, an intel GPU wouldn't be a barrier to me using it as a primary computer.

Lot of catching up to do about Intel's processors. No FSB since Arrandale/Clarksdale for mainstream cpus (January 7, 2010).

Quote:
Originally Posted by epimetheus

I don't know enough about the 13" MBA's interior design, but I have the feeling that it can't accommodate a 512GB SSD, 8GB, and a dedicated gp.

Nor can the 13" MBP. With the specs mentionned (other than the dedicated gpu) a 13" MBP would cost you $2649... $3199 for the less expensive 15" MBP. Those are very high-end needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe

I think Apple has made a mistake by not making the SSD drive upgradeable on the MacBook Air.

I wonder if it will rectify this by eliminating blade modules when the Air is revised and return to a conventional 2.5" SSD in 256 GB and 512 GB sizes - since costs have now come down? I don't think it would be too difficult to change, although it might require a redesigned battery.

I have now come round to thinking that a 13" MBA with a Core i7 2.3 Ghz 2649M SB processor, 4 GB of RAM, 256 Gb SSD (and 512 GB SSD as a BTO option) could be viable as a primary computer. I think the on-board Intel GPU is fine.

I don't think so.

The original MBA used 1.8" HDD/SSD, I don't think that: 1) moving back to cased drives and 2) bigger ones at 2.5", is possible or useful. Cost of all NAND chips has come down, SSD-blades are already less expensive than 2.5" SSD (just look at the upgrade price from 128 to 256GB at Apple: $400 for 2.5", $300 for blades). Blades are way smaller and thinner than 2.5" SSD (even the 7mm models), it would require a huge change in the design, and the MBA would probably lose some of its main advantages. There's a better chance to see 512GB blades later this year, than to see Apple change its design to accomodate 2.5" devices.

Quote:
Dave, any chance you could explain in simple terms what the addition of Thunderbolt slot would mean for the Air?

I'm no Dave, but if you mean what is needed to get TBolt in the MBA, the main part is Intel's TBolt controller (15x15mm) and a few utility components (all that doesn't take much space, and I believe there's enough room in both MBAs to support it). The TBolt controller connects to 4x PCIe lanes on the cpu (all are free since the SB MBA wouldn't use dedicated graphics), and to Intel igpu video outputs that are accessible from the chipset. It's not a complex affair, and articles describe the controller as "inexpensive".
post #54 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjteix View Post

Lot of catching up to do about Intel's processors. No FSB since Arrandale/Clarksdale for mainstream cpus (January 7, 2010).

Nor can the 13" MBP. With the specs mentionned (other than the dedicated gpu) a 13" MBP would cost you $2649... $3199 for the less expensive 15" MBP. Those are very high-end needs.

I don't think so.

The original MBA used 1.8" HDD/SSD, I don't think that: 1) moving back to cased drives and 2) bigger ones at 2.5", is possible or useful. Cost of all NAND chips has come down, SSD-blades are already less expensive than 2.5" SSD (just look at the upgrade price from 128 to 256GB at Apple: $400 for 2.5", $300 for blades). Blades are way smaller and thinner than 2.5" SSD (even the 7mm models), it would require a huge change in the design, and the MBA would probably lose some of its main advantages. There's a better chance to see 512GB blades later this year, than to see Apple change its design to accomodate 2.5" devices.

I'm no Dave, but if you mean what is needed to get TBolt in the MBA, the main part is Intel's TBolt controller (15x15mm) and a few utility components (all that doesn't take much space, and I believe there's enough room in both MBAs to support it). The TBolt controller connects to 4x PCIe lanes on the cpu (all are free since the SB MBA wouldn't use dedicated graphics), and to Intel igpu video outputs that are accessible from the chipset. It's not a complex affair, and articles describe the controller as "inexpensive".

Thanks for that. Very interesting. So, what's your verdict on the next MBA revision? Are you tempted or will you pass?
post #55 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Now we've seen the relative improvements offered by Sandy Bridge processors in the MacBook Pro, it must be all but certain that AI's prediction of a June refresh for the Air will see this line-up go the SB route too. I

What makes me concur is that Intel's on-board 3000 GPU in the i7 13" MBP is actually not as bad as everyone feared. So a revised MacBook Air with a Core i7-2657M with 2C/4T, running at 1.6 GHz with 17 W TDP, the same 3000 GPU and 4 GB of RAM as standard should lose very little compared to the 13" Pro model.

Were an increased size SSD offered as a BTO option, say 512 Gb, then it would be even more attractive. You'd effectively have a MBP without the optical drive and with a better screen resolution. Very tempting for all those who wanted a new form factor with the MBP and didn't get one. (I wouldn't buy any Mac without 500 Gbs of hard disk space.)

It has been said elsewhere, but once Ivy Bridge is launched, it will force a convergence of the MacBook Air 13" and the MacBook Pro 13" models. I agree. We should definitely see a single 13" model, but will it be called the Air or the Pro? Who cares? Whatever the handle, this is the machine that everyone wants.

Do you think there will be a price increase if they come out with a new revision of the MBA in June?
post #56 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

I think Apple has made a mistake by not making the SSD drive upgradeable on the MacBook Air.

Last I knew the current gen AIRs were upgradeable.
Quote:
I wonder if it will rectify this by eliminating blade modules when the Air is revised and return to a conventional 2.5" SSD in 256 GB and 512 GB sizes - since costs have now come down? I don't think it would be too difficult to change, although it might require a redesigned battery.

I don't think cost has much to do with it in the AIR. They went to the blade for it's physical size. Besides it is rather stupid to maintain the same physical outline as the old mechanical drives. SSDs don't need magnets, bearings and motors from the legacy mediums, all you really need is a PC board and a connector.
Quote:
I have now come round to thinking that a 13" MBA with a Core i7 2.3 Ghz 2649M SB processor, 4 GB of RAM, 256 Gb SSD (and 512 GB SSD as a BTO option) could be viable as a primary computer. I think the on-board Intel GPU is fine.

That is a personal decision. For many the GPU would not do the job.
Quote:
@Wizard69

Dave, any chance you could explain in simple terms what the addition of Thunderbolt slot would mean for the Air?

Good question. Here it depends upon the user. For many the port would be a total waste as the AIR is used as a secondary computer. Others might benefit if a docking station was available.

The problem as I see it is that many see the AIR effectively replacing the 13" MBP. I don't think that will ever happen 100%. The two machines serve different needs. Some of those needs don't require a high speed port nor even a video port. So some user would go gaga over the port and the possibilities it brings while others would shrug.

In any event I'm not convinced that AIR will update to Sandy Bridge, Apple could wait for IVY bridge where TB is better integrated. That and the GPU is improved yet again. In any event AIR either needs a better battery or a cooler processor. Let's face it the battery life isn't as good as the MBP. So building a new AIR with the same power profile isn't that smart.
post #57 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In any event I'm not convinced that AIR will update to Sandy Bridge, Apple could wait for IVY bridge where TB is better integrated. That and the GPU is improved yet again. In any event AIR either needs a better battery or a cooler processor. Let's face it the battery life isn't as good as the MBP. So building a new AIR with the same power profile isn't that smart.

I doubt Apple will wait for Ivy Bridge. Sure, the main chipset would be released in time, but they wouldn't use that. They'd wait for LV and ULV versions of it, which would be released much later.

I'd be happy if they used Llano, but we all know that's not gonna happen because they'll be keen to get Thunderbolt into the Airs...
post #58 of 75
I had intended to wait until June-July, before buying my wife a new computer, but after her Sony VAIO gave up the ghost last week, I decided to buy her the latest MacBook Air with a 1.86 Ghz processor, 2 GB of RAM and and a 256 GB SSD.

Despite the lack of horsepower versus my own 13" MBP, the Air is nevertheless an amazing machine and infinitely superior to the first generation model. My wife will be using it as a primary computer since she only needs to use basic business productivity apps: MS Office and Email, plus iPhoto, iTunes and Safari. (Neither she nor I know what WoW is let alone do we play it, nor do we fancy ourselves as amateur Steven Spielbergs, so our polygonal rendering and video editing requirements are non-existent.) What really impresses me about the MacBook Air is its speed and lightness. It boots in around 20 seconds and switches off even faster. The hibernate function works so well that battery life can easily be stretched to all-day use simply by shutting the lid between tasks. It weighs so little that you can perch it on your knees or lap without it ever getting hot n' heavy. In fact, to me it redefines the term 'portable computer'. I am hugely impressed. My 6-days of experience with my wife's new MBA (I've used it almost as much as she has) has got me really stoked about the revised model. A few observations:
  • With SB there is no doubt that the MBA could be a primary computer for most people, most of the time- the extra power will almost certainly make the 13" MacBook Pro redundant IMHO
  • However, the new MBA cannot sacrifice battery life for increased performance - ultimately the 13" Air's battery lasts less long than the 13" MacBook Pro's and that is an issue if you use a computer on the road with extended periods away from a power source
  • I think improved battery life would be a more valuable benefit more than increased power, although you do need a bigger engine under the hood for heavy duty Excel usage and multi-tasking
  • Having experienced the new chip set on the latest 13" MacBook Pro, i don't think the overall performance of Intel's integrated GPU is anything to be worried about, it is undoubtedly as good as the discrete GPU on last year's C2D-equipped 13" MBP*
  • It would be really nice if the keyboard was illuminated for low light conditions. The MacBook Pro's keyboard illumination does a pretty good impersonation of Las Vegas at midnight - so illumination for the Air really doesn't need to be anything like as 'loud'
  • 256 GB capacity for the SSD hard drive just isn't large enough - at the risk of sounding like a scratched record on this topic, I just hope Apple makes a 512 GB SSD drive available with the revised Air - IF APPLE COULD DO THIS AT A MORE REASONABLE PRICE THAN THE SAME OPTION CURRENTLY COSTS ON A 13" MACBOOK PRO (~$1K) THEN I THINK THIS COULD BE A FACTOR THAT DRIVES MBA SALES TO THE NEXT LEVEL

If and when Sandy Bridge MB Airs arrive, it is going to be fascinating to see how it stacks up against existing SB MB Pros.

*I understand that the Air would use a SB processor and integrated Intel GPU in a different way to the MBP. Is this correct and if so, could MJteix, Wizard69 or other similarly knowledgeable and articulate communicator please explain it for non-technical idiots such as myself.
post #59 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

I had intended to wait until June-July, before buying my wife a new computer, but after her Sony VAIO gave up the ghost last week, I decided to buy her the latest MacBook Air with a 1.86 Ghz processor, 2 GB of RAM and and a 256 GB SSD.

Despite the lack of horsepower versus my own 13" MBP, the Air is nevertheless an amazing machine and infinitely superior to the first generation model. My wife will be using it as a primary computer since she only needs to use basic business productivity apps: MS Office and Email, plus iPhoto, iTunes and Safari. (Neither she nor I know what WoW is let alone do we play it, nor do we fancy ourselves as amateur Steven Spielbergs, so our polygonal rendering and video editing requirements are non-existent.) What really impresses me about the MacBook Air is its speed and lightness. It boots in around 20 seconds and switches off even faster. The hibernate function works so well that battery life can easily be stretched to all-day use simply by shutting the lid between tasks. It weighs so little that you can perch it on your knees or lap without it ever getting hot n' heavy. In fact, to me it redefines the term 'portable computer'. I am hugely impressed. My 6-days of experience with my wife's new MBA (I've used it almost as much as she has) has got me really stoked about the revised model. A few observations:
  • With SB there is no doubt that the MBA could be a primary computer for most people, most of the time- the extra power will almost certainly make the 13" MacBook Pro redundant IMHO
  • However, the new MBA cannot sacrifice battery life for increased performance - ultimately the 13" Air's battery lasts less long than the 13" MacBook Pro's and that is an issue if you use a computer on the road with extended periods away from a power source
  • I think improved battery life would be a more valuable benefit more than increased power, although you do need a bigger engine under the hood for heavy duty Excel usage and multi-tasking
  • Having experienced the new chip set on the latest 13" MacBook Pro, i don't think the overall performance of Intel's integrated GPU is anything to be worried about, it is undoubtedly as good as the discrete GPU on last year's C2D-equipped 13" MBP*
  • It would be really nice if the keyboard was illuminated for low light conditions. The MacBook Pro's keyboard illumination does a pretty good impersonation of Las Vegas at midnight - so illumination for the Air really doesn't need to be anything like as 'loud'
  • 256 GB capacity for the SSD hard drive just isn't large enough - at the risk of sounding like a scratched record on this topic, I just hope Apple makes a 512 GB SSD drive available with the revised Air - IF APPLE COULD DO THIS AT A MORE REASONABLE PRICE THAN THE SAME OPTION CURRENTLY COSTS ON A 13" MACBOOK PRO (~$1K) THEN I THINK THIS COULD BE A FACTOR THAT DRIVES MBA SALES TO THE NEXT LEVEL

If and when Sandy Bridge MB Airs arrive, it is going to be fascinating to see how it stacks up against existing SB MB Pros.

*I understand that the Air would use a SB processor and integrated Intel GPU in a different way to the MBP. Is this correct and if so, could MJteix, Wizard69 or other similarly knowledgeable and articulate communicator please explain it for non-technical idiots such as myself.

I think think that the SB MBAs will be a slight bit aster cpu wise and slight bit slower gpu wise. Hopefully, at least form my perspective, they'll have better battery life. The battery life of the current MBAs aren't bad but it would be nice if it was better. I'd like to comfortably get through a day without charging like I can with an iPad. That may be a bit much to ask but an improvement in battery life of the MBAs would be nice IMO.
post #60 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

I understand that the Air would use a SB processor and integrated Intel GPU in a different way to the MBP.

The current integrated GPU is made by NVidia and is external to the CPU so needs to be cooled separately from the CPU. The SB Intel one is inside the CPU and they just have to keep the one component cool. Plus they can adjust the performance of each part more easily when needed to optimise for graphics or CPU functions so it's easier to maintain the desired maximum power usage.

I'd expect the power consumption to either remain the same or drop a little and for CPU performance to improve 50-100% and the GPU performance to drop a bit vs the 320M.
post #61 of 75
If the next MacBook Air gets Sandy Bridge, a thunderbolt port AND a 500gb flash drive....IM ALL OVER THAT! Lol. Seriously tho...I'd buy one asap If it got all those 3 things.

Tic toc tic toc
post #62 of 75
I don't so much care about Sandy Bridge, but I do care bout thunderbolt. I really hope they integrate that into the next generation.
post #63 of 75
I wish they'd find a means of incorporating a kensington lock port (though I'm not holding my breath). I'd love to switch to a Macbook Air but in the environment I frequently work in they require laptops be secured via cable locks (they aren't perfect, but when you're dealing with a cookie cutter security policy there really isn't a lot of room to argue). I'm just pleased they don't mind me using my Macbook Pro in their environment.

Sandy Bridge would be nice, but for the work I'm doing raw horsepower isn't a primary concern. The existing 13" Air would probably suit my needs fine and I'd lose no desktop space as the resolution matches that of my current Macbook Pro.
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post #64 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by regan View Post

If the next MacBook Air gets Sandy Bridge, a thunderbolt port AND a 500gb flash drive....IM ALL OVER THAT! Lol. Seriously tho...I'd buy one asap If it got all those 3 things.

Tic toc tic toc

Me too. I think Mjteix has nailed the specification.

A MacBook Air with a 2.3 Ghz i7, 4 Gb RAM, 512 Gb SSD, Thunderbolt and a price closer to $2,000 rather than $3,000 would catapult this laptop into the stratosphere of desirability. I wonder how such a machine would compare to my existing Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz 13" MacBook Pro. I have this sneaking suspicion, that Sandy Bridge Airs will make the existing MacBook Pro redundant in a heartbeat.

While Sandy Bridge Airs are likely to rock, what about Ivy Bridge? Someone already said it, 2012 is gonna be the year of the 20s: 22 Nm die-shrink, 20/25 Nm SSD memory modules, 20 Mbs Thunderbolt connections and 20 second boot times. The other REALLY important and underrated dimension to Ivy Bridge will be Intel's second stab at an integrated GPU. They've been throwing resource at this and while the next iteration may not equal the best of Nvidia, we'll get dramatically better video rendering.

Whatever future MacBook Airs offer, I think Apple is playing a very clever game. Slowly but surely the MacBook Air is being ramped-up so that its prerformance is on a par with that of the 13" MacBook Pro. While the Pro will ultimately be more powerful and have an onboard DVD drive, i think a lot of people will view the trade-off of lesser performance as being insignificant versus the better form factor of the Air. While we will have a choice, i t believe we'll see a wholesale migration to the Air among 13" Pro users.

My bet is Airs at 11" and 13" and Pros at 15" and 17". We could conceivably get 15" Airs and 13" Pros, but I think the overlap would be too great to justify it.
post #65 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post

The thing with the MBA is that it has to be absolutely *perfect* for it to be considered a primary machine

It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be a little bit beefier. I am DYING to replace my 15" MBP with a 13" MBA, but I just NEED the following:
  • Sandy Bridge CPU
  • 512 GB Blade

Of course in a perfect world I would have all of the following as well, but I don't need any of them to actually pull the trigger:
  • Anti-Glare Display
  • 8 GB RAM
  • Backlit Keyboard

I don't care about graphics--I can limit my gaming to console gaming. What I want is an ultra-portable, but one that isn't going to choke on CPU-intensive work tasks and won't have me sifting through which media files to keep or toss.
post #66 of 75
Yup, bring on those garbage Intel GPUs. Why not.
post #67 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroRichie View Post

It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be a little bit beefier. I am DYING to replace my 15" MBP with a 13" MBA, but I just NEED the following:
  • Sandy Bridge CPU
  • 512 GB Blade

Of course in a perfect world I would have all of the following as well, but I don't need any of them to actually pull the trigger:
  • Anti-Glare Display
  • 8 GB RAM
  • Backlit Keyboard

I don't care about graphics--I can limit my gaming to console gaming. What I want is an ultra-portable, but one that isn't going to choke on CPU-intensive work tasks and won't have me sifting through which media files to keep or toss.

Nice post. I agree 100%.
post #68 of 75
Now I have not seen the motherboard on a MBA, but any chance there would be room for a dedicated GPU? I know the problem with adding one to the 13" MBP was because of the optical drive, but since the MBA does not have one, could the 13" MBA hypothetically have one?
post #69 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by akhosrof View Post

Now I have not seen the motherboard on a MBA, but any chance there would be room for a dedicated GPU? I know the problem with adding one to the 13" MBP was because of the optical drive, but since the MBA does not have one, could the 13" MBA hypothetically have one?

I think it all depends upon where Apple is trying to position AIR and if that positioning requires the support of OpenCL. The other component would be how important gaming is to the AIR platform.

The flip side of this question is what of Thunderbolt support which currently requires its own bridge chip. I'm leaning towards Apple implementing Thunderbolt instead of a discrete GPU. So any free space for a GPU will likely go to the TB port. It is kind of a no brainer so my money is on Apple going in this direction.
post #70 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I think it all depends upon where Apple is trying to position AIR and if that positioning requires the support of OpenCL. The other component would be how important gaming is to the AIR platform.

The flip side of this question is what of Thunderbolt support which currently requires its own bridge chip. I'm leaning towards Apple implementing Thunderbolt instead of a discrete GPU. So any free space for a GPU will likely go to the TB port. It is kind of a no brainer so my money is on Apple going in this direction.

Thanks a bunch for the response wizard! That certainly makes a lot of sense with the Thunderbolt port, I can definitely see Apple going in that direction. Not to sound uninformed, but what is OpenCl and what would that have to do with the MacBook Air?

Either way my Dell Inspiron laptop died today after 5 years. It has the blue screen of death with Windows 7 and I suspect the motherboard is fried. So I am in the market for a new laptop and I am probably going to get a MBA after the next refresh. First time Mac buyer. I have an iPhone and love it, so I think I'm going Mac!
post #71 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by akhosrof View Post

First time Mac buyer. I have an iPhone and love it, so I think I'm going Mac!

There will be things that frustrate you for a while but it will be mostly a great experience. I am going on 2.5 years as a Mac user and I am still annoyed by a few things with the OS, but it's wife-proof as far as viruses and malware are concerned so there is no substitute for that!
post #72 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by akhosrof View Post

Thanks a bunch for the response wizard! That certainly makes a lot of sense with the Thunderbolt port, I can definitely see Apple going in that direction. Not to sound uninformed, but what is OpenCl and what would that have to do with the MacBook Air?

The point here is that the GPU built into the Sandy Bridge chip doesn't support OpenCL. Well at least according to current knowledge.

What this means is that software can not leverage the GPU to produce better performances in cases where there is a lot of opportunity for parallel computation. What this means to you is unknown because the value of such support is somewhat dependent upon the software you choose to run. Not I say somewhat because there is always the chance that you may not know exactly which software benefits from GPU computing.
Quote:
Either way my Dell Inspiron laptop died today after 5 years. It has the blue screen of death with Windows 7 and I suspect the motherboard is fried. So I am in the market for a new laptop and I am probably going to get a MBA after the next refresh. First time Mac buyer. I have an iPhone and love it, so I think I'm going Mac!

I'm no sure why you are assuming the motherboard is fried. The disks in Dell laptops are known to die very frequently. One point that I always make is to suggest picking up a Linux Live CD of some sort to try booting the machine. If the machine boots that way you neither have a disk failure or corruption. If it is a drive problem, that can be dealt with cheaply enough and on some of the Dells is a DIY task. This would keep you going until Apples refresh and make the Dell salable.

As to the AIR I would very much wait for a refresh. However don't assume that the machine will get a Sandy Bridge processor. We all hope that is the case but it is not a given. The problem can be wrapped up in one word - HEAT. I suspect Apple will struggle to get a SB processor to actually run fast enough in an AIR to actually be worthwhile. People are already complaining about the latest MBPs running to hot and they are far easier to cool.

I'm just trying to temper expectations here. Personally I would like to see a faster AIR with SB but I also want to see one with Thunderbolt and longer battery life. The other option for Apple might be AMDs Fusion processor assuming that a suitable model is ready.

AMDs Fusion processors are actually very innovative and have OpenCL supporting GPUs. If they could offer up even a modest CPU improvement over the current AIR implementation the could make for very interesting AIRs. People need to realize that one element in the current AIRs success is the GPU without which some functions on the AIR would be pretty horrible. Here I'm thinking video playback but the current AIRs GPU does support OpenCL in a modest way. In any event AMDs Fusion processors support OpenCL, well when they arrive they will.
post #73 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroRichie View Post

There will be things that frustrate you for a while but it will be mostly a great experience.

For the most part a great experience! My path was a bit different as I dropped Windows NT with service pack 3 and ran Linux machines for many years. I lost very little going to the Mac, BASH and Python are still available and it is fairly easy to build or install most UNIX'y apps. Many Mac owners simply don't realize just how powerful and robust the Mac is these days.
Quote:
I am going on 2.5 years as a Mac user and I am still annoyed by a few things with the OS, but it's wife-proof as far as viruses and malware are concerned so there is no substitute for that!

Almost any thing of reasonable complexity will have things that irritate you. It is just a fact of life and applies to things mechanical as well as electrical. Thankfully the Mac has far more plusses than negatives. For years I questioned Apples new OS attempts but there is little doubt that buying Next was a very smart move on their part. The transition is now done and with Snow Leopard they have a really fine modern OS.
post #74 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I think it all depends upon where Apple is trying to position AIR and if that positioning requires the support of OpenCL. The other component would be how important gaming is to the AIR platform.

The flip side of this question is what of Thunderbolt support which currently requires its own bridge chip. I'm leaning towards Apple implementing Thunderbolt instead of a discrete GPU. So any free space for a GPU will likely go to the TB port. It is kind of a no brainer so my money is on Apple going in this direction.

At least in the next year or two wouldn't a GPU be much more appreciated and used by the average Air buyer?

That'd include me, I need to get one for my fiancee. I am beginning to think perhaps I'll just wait until new Airs come out and buy the last generation for a nice discount.

Is this all because Intel screwed NVIDIA over so we can't have GPUs with new Intel chips? Or due to lack of space, e.g. perhaps to make room for TB, or both? Again, TB sounds great for the Air, especially long-term. But for the next rev...to sacrifice GPU for crappy Intel gfx...sounds bad to me..
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post #75 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm no sure why you are assuming the motherboard is fried. The disks in Dell laptops are known to die very frequently. One point that I always make is to suggest picking up a Linux Live CD of some sort to try booting the machine. If the machine boots that way you neither have a disk failure or corruption. If it is a drive problem, that can be dealt with cheaply enough and on some of the Dells is a DIY task. This would keep you going until Apples refresh and make the Dell salable.

Haha you were absolutely right. I assumed it was a fried motherboard because the error message I was getting for the BSOD corresponded to either a corrupted driver, motherboard, or adapter problems. The adapter was brand new and was tested, so it wasn't that. I just assumed it was the motherboard because I had to have the motherboard replaced before when the computer was under warranty. I really had no idea what to do outside of clearing the system back to its default settings. Since I didn't have my hard drive backed up, I got the files extracted and put on an external HDD.

At that point I figured might as well clear the system, if it was a corrupted driver the laptop will work. If not, it is still a motherboard problem, or something else that wouldn't be worth fixing. Just so happens that my system was perfectly fine as setting it back to the factory defaults, I just lost most of my drivers and my activation key to Vista (so I can't upgrade to my 7 disc from XP), so this is probably a temporary solution for me now (video performance is terrible). I am still in the market to an Air when the refresh comes.

Btw, thanks for the explanation on the OpenCL! And that would be pretty awesome if the Air got a Fusion APU pretty soon!
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