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Apple to begin production of Thunderbolt MacBook Airs next month

post #1 of 215
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Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air line as the company looks to maintain the impressive sales momentum generated by the ultra-thin notebooks and limit the market opportunity for would-be competitors hoping to wedge their foot in the door.

Sales of the aggressively-priced 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs got off to a hot start following their introduction last October, with Apple assembling roughly 1 million units within their first quarter of availability. During those three months, consumers reportedly chose the new MacBook Airs at a one-to-two ratio to the company's more established MacBook Pro offerings, making for one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.

However, shipments of the Airs declined 51 percent sequentially during the first calendar quarter of 2011 -- including a 40 percent month-over-month decline in February -- as Apple introduced new MacBook Pros that caught consumers' eyes, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has proven sources within the Cupertino-based company's Far Eastern supply chain.

Kuo tells AppleInsider that his latest round of checks with suppliers and system builders in the region reveals that MacBook Air shipments are set to rebound during the current calendar quarter, fueled by an upgrade to Intel's latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors, integrated Intel graphics, and the expected adoption of the new Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology that made its debut on MacBook Pros earlier this year.

Specifically, he said the new models will "go to mass production in late May," which corroborates an earlier report that cited reliable sources as saying Apple would be ready to publicly announce and ship to consumers MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors during following month of June.



The upgrade should help boost Apple's overall notebook shipments between 5 percent to 10 percent sequentially for the current quarter, according to Kuo, reversing a 5 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, which he notes was still less than the 11% average decline for notebook shipments from the top 6 OEMs worldwide during the same period.

In moving to Intel's 32-nanometer (nm) Sandy Bridge architecture, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips for the chipmakers' new line (below) of low-voltage and ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory.



Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.

In a report shared with AppleInsider last week, Kuo also noted that production of Apple's legacy white MacBook model has been on a steady decline since the start of the year, with shipments falling 10% and 50% in February and March, respectively. As such, it's likely that Apple will similarly need to make some form of announcement regarding the future of this offering sometime in the coming months.
post #2 of 215
the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights
post #3 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

laptops were originally niche products. Most people bought them for the uses you ascribe to the macbook airs. The current macbook airs are spectacular student machines. My daughter has one in college. It does everything she needs, in class and out. In her dorm room she connects it to a large apple display, keyboard and mouse and it works flawlessly. In class its much better than a macbook and its lighter and smaller. To the degree that its a niche product now, that niche will grow.

I think you are correct about the original macbook airs. but the current ones are a transition, as their initial volume shows.
post #4 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

I want a 15" MacBook Air. The CPU and storage options now available on the 13" MacBook Air are acceptable.
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post #5 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

One million units in three months is not a "niche product". The MBA is a "hit" with buyers. Naturally, with such an important purchase, informed buyers will hold off when they hear about the Thunderbolt technology. When it comes, they will buy .........
post #6 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.

The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.

However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.
post #7 of 215
with thunderbolt and the same CPU selection. Looking for one of those for HTPC.
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post #8 of 215
Sweeeet. Just the news i was waiting to hear. Sandy bridge and thunderbolt were a given, but I'd love to see some suprises too.

Mainly i'd like to see larger flash drives. 256gb is the largest in the current Macbook airs. If they could offer a 500gb version that would be SWEET. Lol.

But seeing as the current BTO on the macbook pros for a 500gb SSD is about $1,200....um...it may be wishful thinking on my part.

Still, a larger HD would make the macbook Air pretty much PERFECT in my eyes.

Two more months....tic toc tic toc
post #9 of 215
What is needed is a lighter and smaller MacBook Air: 400 to 600 g and 7 inches. The Mac in your pocket. Always.
post #10 of 215
The option of putting in up to 8gb of RAM would be nice. A 15inch Macbook Air would be a wonderful addition to the Apple lineup.
post #11 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

The first gen MBA was a niche product.

But since the redesign and price drop, the bloody things are everywhere. They are nearly as popular as 13" MBPs on my university campus.
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post #12 of 215
Nice to hear Thunderbolt is making its way to the sexy MB Air. Wonder what the processing overhead is on Thunderbolt as the Airs have modest computing power (compared to other Mac products)

Fill up that solid state drive in seconds!
post #13 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

I'm a developer and I spend most of my time in XCode, Outlook, Word, and Excel. Plus lots of web based activity. My 13" MacBook Air is docked to a large monitor, keyboard, and trackpad. Is that a niche?

None of these apps tax the CPU/GPU in the slightest. In fact with the SSD this is one of the real-world fastest machines I've ever had the pleasure of using.

I also travel a lot and the MBA can't be beat for that.

I have the external DVD drive too, which I think I've used about 3 times.

When I see people lugging around the behemoth MBPs I just smile. If you're a gamer or you're rendering video in the airport it's great I guess.
post #14 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air...

Please, Apple. Please, please, please bring back the keyboard backlighting when the Air is refreshed. PLEASE!
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post #15 of 215
1. Please, bring back the backlit keyboard!

2. And add an external battery indicator. Like the Macbook Pro.
post #16 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr O View Post

2. And add an external battery indicator. Like the Macbook Pro.

It looks like there's no space for that on the side of the computer
post #17 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.

The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.

However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.

you can upgrade the Airs to 4GB RAM for only $100 when buying online or at Apple stores. also since they use superfast flash memory instead of hard drives, the amount of RAM is less important as the flash memory handles anything needed more than the 4GB. Mac OS X is more efficient than Windows so less RAM is needed on OS X to get equivalent performance. many Air owners have 2GB RAM and find that sufficient, again because of the flash memory.
post #18 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

It was a niche product. The thunderbolt one will be my only computer replacing both an iMac and a Macbook.
post #19 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lafe View Post

Please, Apple. Please, please, please bring back the keyboard backlighting when the Air is refreshed. PLEASE!

I AGREE!!!!!!

That is the ONLY thing that is holding off me purchasing one. I'm still holding on to my old 15" MBP until the Air gets backlit keyboards, then I'm all over the new laptop!
post #20 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGuessSo View Post


When I see people lugging around the behemoth MBPs I just smile. If you're a gamer or you're rendering video in the airport it's great I guess.

I am a photographer...you can smile all you want but Aperture really uses all four cores and needs 8 Gb ram when you are working with RAW files. I would love the MBA but would have to be quad core with 8 GB ram and 500+ Gb drive....not likely to happen so i will just have to "lug" the MBP
post #21 of 215
Earlier this week on April 20th, their was a post on the AppleInsider that the Apple store employees couldn't take vacation on May 20-22 because it is around the 10th anniversary of the retail stores opening.

What a move it would be to launch the new Macbook Air's, their back to school offer, and some type of a 10th anniversary sale at this time. Food for thought...it would really drive people into the stores.
post #22 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelguy View Post

Earlier this week on April 20th, their was a post on the AppleInsider that the Apple store employees couldn't take vacation on May 20-22 because it is around the 10th anniversary of the retail stores opening.

What a move it would be to launch the new Macbook Air's, their back to school offer, and some type of a 10th anniversary sale at this time. Food for thought...it would really drive people into the stores.

I would hope we would see a new iMac along with the new MacBook Air's. Surely Apple would not just ask their staff to hold off on vacations just for a revised MacBook AIr with Thunderbolt.
post #23 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.

The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.

However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.


If a MAC with OSX work just as well on 2GB as those other machines running windows on 4GB, why should Apple add unnecessary cost to the system going to 4GB?

If you want 4GB, change out the memory module with 4GB kits, and sell the 2GB modules to recover some of the cost.
post #24 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

This is total BS. You're just 'supposin' based on your own personal needs and don't actually have any actual facts at all.

Here's some facts ...

At my place of work (a large University somewhere on planet Earth), roughly 4% of the senior faculty have MacBook Airs and use them as their main/only computer. They often dock them to one of those giant Apple monitors when in the office, but they travel around the world with them and have no complaints.
post #25 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGuessSo View Post

I'm a developer and I spend most of my time in XCode, Outlook, Word, and Excel. Plus lots of web based activity. My 13" MacBook Air is docked to a large monitor, keyboard, and trackpad. Is that a niche?

None of these apps tax the CPU/GPU in the slightest. In fact with the SSD this is one of the real-world fastest machines I've ever had the pleasure of using.

I also travel a lot and the MBA can't be beat for that.

I have the external DVD drive too, which I think I've used about 3 times.

When I see people lugging around the behemoth MBPs I just smile. If you're a gamer or you're rendering video in the airport it's great I guess.

I don't have an air (have a clunky old 13" mbp ) but playing on friends' airs I gotta agree that there is nothing slow about them (only tried the 13"). Photoshop and FCP performance may not be good enough for dedicated pro level work but anyone looking for an air to be the primary machine for that kind of work is not thinking straight. I don't think the air is niche at all. In fact, the regular mbp is becoming niche. My guess is that a 15mba is on its way.
post #26 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by xsu View Post

If a MAC with OSX work just as well on 2GB as those other machines running windows on 4GB, why should Apple add unnecessary cost to the system going to 4GB?

If you want 4GB, change out the memory module with 4GB kits, and sell the 2GB modules to recover some of the cost.

Can't do that on any past or current Macbook Air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

We get a lot of this, claiming that "Apple people" are forever insisting that everything is perfect just as it is, that Apple need not change or improve anything ever, but I never see citations of anyone actually saying that. It just seems to be an article of faith with some folks.

Are you reading this addabox?
post #27 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

You know this how?
post #28 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by markb View Post

I am a photographer...you can smile all you want but Aperture really uses all four cores and needs 8 Gb ram when you are working with RAW files. I would love the MBA but would have to be quad core with 8 GB ram and 500+ Gb drive....not likely to happen so i will just have to "lug" the MBP

Geez, you need to switch to Lightroom. ; )
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post #29 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by markb View Post

I am a photographer...you can smile all you want but Aperture really uses all four cores and needs 8 Gb ram when you are working with RAW files. I would love the MBA but would have to be quad core with 8 GB ram and 500+ Gb drive....not likely to happen so i will just have to "lug" the MBP

Same here! I use Aperture, FCPro as well as CS5 Suite and I had to go to an internal 1 TB drive on my MBP i7
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post #30 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

the MBA like all the other subnetbooks are niche products. most people want 15" screens, faster CPU and more storage

the people who buy them use them for email and work on the road, especially long flights

Mac OS X ran fine on a 1Ghz single core PPC G4 chip. The 45nm iteration of the Intel Penryn Core 2 Duo runs rings around that. It's not like OS X got bloated like Vista. As long as you don't load Flash on the MacBook Air (I use Click2Flash) you should be fine.

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post #31 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

Not necessarily true. I want power *and* portability.

The MacBook Airs are fantastically light. I want to be able to carry it around and do design work.

However, I also want Apple's specs to catch up to their rivals and reflect better pricing. Every competitor is entering at 4GB RAM now while Apple continues to do the "2GB with 1GB in both sockets" type of thing in their laptop line which drives me nuts.

Which competitors are giving 4 GB though? The only manufacturer serious about competing with the MBA is Samsung and their Series 9 computers come with 2 GB. I'll check again though, maybe I saw the wrong thing.
post #32 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I want a 15" MacBook Air. The CPU and storage options now available on the 13" MacBook Air are acceptable.

Ditto here.

I actually think the MacBook Air is the future of Apple laptops. I bet they do come out with a 15 inch and that within 2 years most laptop sales will be the MacBook airs.

Macbook Pros will only be marketed to traveling media people like reporters who need lots of storage and lots of ports. White Macbook wil disappear or linger as the base option for the really budget conscious
post #33 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Same here! I use Aperture, FCPro as well as CS5 Suite and I had to go to an internal 1 TB drive on my MBP i7

But you and markb are niche. Nice niche, but niche. And really, is even a MBP fast enough? As a pro photographer I am surprised your main machine is not a top of the range MacPro. I don't know the kind of work you do and I know field work can be a big part of photo, video, graphics work but were I to spend half my working time in front of a monitor with the above mentioned apps I would want the biggest baddest monitor hooked up to the biggest baddest MP I could afford just to minimize technical frustrations associated with cpu, memory and screen real estate issues.
post #34 of 215

Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.


I'm also looking forward to Sandy Bridge based Mac Book Airs, but the CPUs you are not the same power envelope as the CPUs in the current MacBook Airs. The CPU listed above are 17 watts and 25 watts respectively.

Referenced here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...icroprocessors

The CPUs in the current 11" MBA are 10W (the U9400 and U9600):
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=36697
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37264

The CPU in the current 13" MBA are 17W (The L9400 and L9600):
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=36689
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37262


So if apple does move to the LV/ULV line up being released this summer, there may be a battery life and heat generation hit.

Now, it is possible that moving to the on die GPU and away from the nvidia 320m chipset to an Intel chipset could safe enough power to make up the difference in TDP of the CPUs. It looks like the 320m is likely around 12 watts TDP. I'm less sure about the chipset that would be used in the next MacBook Airs.

I certainly hope that these CPUs can be used; while I would prefer a 13" MacBookPro with no optical drive and a discrete video chip, these potential MacBook Airs would be nice.
post #35 of 215
Macbook Air (Thunderbolt) connected to Quad Core Thunderbolt iMac = Winning
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post #36 of 215
I'm definitely excited to see the Sandy Bridge MBAs coming soon, plus likely SB iMacs as the stock of iMacs has been reportedly dwindling recently. I don't expect the white Macbook to last the rest of the year. I think it has run it's course and Apple will expect anyone who wants a "low end" OSX system to pick up an Air. The MBA and iPad cover an amazingly wide variety of people's full needs.


I'm just wondering if Intel will be following roughly the same schedule of processor production next year w/Ivy Bridge. So we would get the normal laptop chips early in the year and halfway thru the year get something good for the MBA. My wife and I were talking about getting MBPs w/our tax return next year, but she has been thinking about the MBA instead. Would make sense to just wait till Ivy Bridge was in it if it would only be a couple of months away.
post #37 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelguy View Post

The option of putting in up to 8gb of RAM would be nice.

Apple just made 4GB an option. The most I'm hoping for in terms of RAM is that 4GB becomes standard on the 13" MBA (and hopefully a new 15" MBA). An 8GB MBA may still be a few years away.
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post #38 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTPA View Post

Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.


I'm also looking forward to Sandy Bridge based Mac Book Airs, but the CPUs you are not the same power envelope as the CPUs in the current MacBook Airs. The CPU listed above are 17 watts and 25 watts respectively.

Referenced here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...icroprocessors

The CPUs in the current 11" MBA are 10W (the U9400 and U9600):
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=36697
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37264

The CPU in the current 13" MBA are 17W (The L9400 and L9600):
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=36689
http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37262


So if apple does move to the LV/ULV line up being released this summer, there may be a battery life and heat generation hit.

Now, it is possible that moving to the on die GPU and away from the nvidia 320m chipset to an Intel chipset could safe enough power to make up the difference in TDP of the CPUs. It looks like the 320m is likely around 12 watts TDP. I'm less sure about the chipset that would be used in the next MacBook Airs.

I certainly hope that these CPUs can be used; while I would prefer a 13" MacBookPro with no optical drive and a discrete video chip, these potential MacBook Airs would be nice.

You forget that the Geforce 320M inside the MacBook Air also requires some power, and the new MacBook Airs aren't going to have a separate chip for graphics. The 320M itself uses about 12W (I assume less for the 11" since it's likely downclocked), so these chips should fit in nicely without any drop in battery life. In fact, these are likely to be MUCH more efficient, since Nehalem/Sandy Bridge CPUs have power-gating, letting the CPU turn off one of the cores if it's not needed.
post #39 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by markb View Post

I am a photographer...you can smile all you want but Aperture really uses all four cores and needs 8 Gb ram when you are working with RAW files. I would love the MBA but would have to be quad core with 8 GB ram and 500+ Gb drive....not likely to happen so i will just have to "lug" the MBP

You poor thing! You're positively hampered by the lack of cores and memory. In ten years, you'll be complaining that the 2021 MacBook Air only has 32-cores and 2TB of 5Ghz of RAM... how will you adjust the contrast on your RAW photos??! You'll have to wait 1.09 seconds!

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post #40 of 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by xsu View Post

If you want 4GB, change out the memory module with 4GB kits, and sell the 2GB modules to recover some of the cost.

There is a problem with this idea. If you call Apple support, one of their first troubleshooting questions is asking you if you have 3rd party memory. Unfortunately, regardless if that is the problem, 3rd party memory is often blamed for problems.

I would only upgrade memory after purchase on a machine where you can easily put the original memory back in. Otherwise, you could have problems getting support/warranty down the road.

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