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Intel lists new Sandy Bridge CPUs aimed at MacBook Air

post #1 of 21
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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, according to a report by CNET .

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 $317
Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz\t(peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for $289
Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz\t(peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for $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.
post #2 of 21
Quote:
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.


Seriously? What kind of sentence is that?

First, I don't recall any criticism about the Air not being thin enough. Second, while I understand the comment about giving up too many features, sticking "while using a full sized keyboard" at the end of the sentence makes no sense.
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


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 $317
Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz\t(peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for $289
Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz\t(peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for $250

Was really hoping they would get a quad core i7 into this form factor! Want the power of a Pro in the weight of an Air. Should still beat the pants of the Core2Duo though...
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToxicMan View Post

Was really hoping they would get a quad core i7 into this form factor! ...

No problem... when they make them at the 15 nm process node in 3 years.
post #5 of 21
I feel like this article is totally wrong, at least for the 13" air.

I was under the impression that because the Sandy bridge processors have the gpu built in, the Air no longer needs to use the ULV processors and can use the LV processors.

It thought the current ones used the 17 w processors plus a 10 w gpu. So now that the cpu and gpu are combined in sandy bridge, they have 27 w available for usage. So that would consistute a LV processor, not a ULV.

Also, I thought AI reported on this before. I feel like AI has really started to just BS articles. I know they always have to some extent, but I feel like the number of these crappy articles has seriously increased.
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post #6 of 21
EDIT: Whoops. aiolos beat me to it.

Would 25 watts vs 17 watts really be a problem now that they will no longer be using a discrete GPU in addition to the CPU? I heard the GPU itself uses 12 watts in the current models. 17 + 12 = 29 watts vs 25 watts. I know it's not as simple as that but it's still a few watts less overall. I would think these new Sandy Bridge chipsets would be destined for the 11" model only.

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post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

I feel like this article is totally wrong, at least for the 13" air.

I was under the impression that because the Sandy bridge processors have the gpu built in, the Air no longer needs to use the ULV processors and can use the LV processors.

It thought the current ones used the 17 w processors plus a 10 w gpu. So now that the cpu and gpu are combined in sandy bridge, they have 27 w available for usage. So that would consistute a LV processor, not a ULV.

Also, I thought AI reported on this before. I feel like AI has really started to just BS articles. I know they always have to some extent, but I feel like the number of these crappy articles has seriously increased.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1984 View Post

EDIT: Whoops. aiolos beat me to it.

Would 25 watts vs 17 watts really be a problem now that they will no longer be using a discrete GPU in addition to the CPU? I heard the GPU itself uses 12 watts in the current models. 17 + 12 = 29 watts vs 25 watts. I know it's not as simple as that but it's still a few watts less overall. I would think these new Sandy Bridge chipsets would be destined for the 11" model only.

Maybe, but I'm guessing the CPU performance boost is more than sufficient for Apple but the relatively weak battery life is not. Both of which are somewhat rectified by the space made by the removal of Nvidia IGP though Thunderbolt seems about the same size and lower total TDP.
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post #8 of 21
I wonder what the graphics performance of these parts is. They likely have a lower GPU clock than the higher-TDP versions.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1984 View Post

EDIT: Whoops. aiolos beat me to it.

Would 25 watts vs 17 watts really be a problem now that they will no longer be using a discrete GPU in addition to the CPU? I heard the GPU itself uses 12 watts in the current models. 17 + 12 = 29 watts vs 25 watts. I know it's not as simple as that but it's still a few watts less overall. I would think these new Sandy Bridge chipsets would be destined for the 11" model only.

Exactly, I read this article and was like WTF?

Also, since the new ones, according to what you said, should save at least 4 watts over the older versions, they maybe Apple can either 1) Use that to get better battery life, or 2) Maybe slightly overclock the GPU so that people don't see as much of a decrease in GPU performance vs. the 320M. I'd hope for option 2, but option 1 is undoubtedly more likely.
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post #10 of 21
Anything to get battery life to really improve---I am for. Cant Wait!!!!!!!!!!
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post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

I was under the impression that because the Sandy bridge processors have the gpu built in, the Air no longer needs to use the ULV processors and can use the LV processors.

It thought the current ones used the 17 w processors plus a 10 w gpu. So now that the cpu and gpu are combined in sandy bridge, they have 27 w available for usage. So that would consistute a LV processor, not a ULV.

the built in IGPU and CPU's power are counted together, from what i understand, which is why the 25 watt i3/i5/i7 cpu's were so much better with power (even after taking away the new power saving features) the IGPU was counted in the CPU's power consumption.

so the 17w processor is 17 watts for CPU+IGPU

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post #12 of 21
The only thing holding me back is lack of lighted keyboard. Hopefully they will add that in this next update.
post #13 of 21
Intel is really destroying the credibility of their product branding by calling a 1.7GHz dual-core processor a "Core i7". If I had to guess, I'd say Apple's desire to sell notebooks has more than a little to do with their increasingly nonsensical CPU nomenclature.
post #14 of 21
the ULV iteration of the Core i5 will also make its way into the upcoming ASUS UX21 http://campuslife.asus.com/index/224...1-1025-series/ according to http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20...aslim-laptops/
post #15 of 21
Again I have to ask why the RAM in the Macbook Air is not user upgradeable. If it is to save space, as the usual argument goes, then why not solder the SSD onto the logic board as well?
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post

the built in IGPU and CPU's power are counted together, from what i understand, which is why the 25 watt i3/i5/i7 cpu's were so much better with power (even after taking away the new power saving features) the IGPU was counted in the CPU's power consumption.

so the 17w processor is 17 watts for CPU+IGPU

Right, that's the point I'm making.

By "current ones", I'm talking about the Core2Duo's, which are 17w for just the CPU, and then 10 more watts for the integrated Nvidia. That's why the new Air's with i7's shouldn't need to use the ULV processors, because they're 17w total for CPU+GPU, so they can use the less underclocked LV processors, which are 25W for CPU+GPU.
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post #17 of 21
Question on the new Airs. Because my fiancee will be getting either the new one or the current gen. at discount.

As wizard69 has mentioned TurboBoost allows the new CPUs to run very fast but only when needed. Thus, I assume the Sandy Bridge CPU will be more battery efficient, even while having increased performance.

However, does the removal of a discrete graphics card (NVIDIA 320M) for the integrated Intel gfx mean this will also boost the battery life as well?

In that sense, I'm beginning to think I will buy the new generation MacBook Air, partly because I expect while the graphics will be slightly worse, this sacrifice for integrated graphics will result in better battery life, which is a fair trade for our purposes.

I'm just going by my experience with my 2010 MacBook Pro use with Cody Krieger's graphics card switcher app. I notice that without the NVIDIA card on, I get 4 or 5 hours of moderate use. Aways have. (Apple always seems to drastically overestimate battery. 10 hours, yeah right). But...when I switch to having the NVIDIA card on full time, I get only about 2, maybe 3 hours! Of moderate to light use! It also adds a lot of heat.
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post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Again I have to ask why the RAM in the Macbook Air is not user upgradeable. If it is to save space, as the usual argument goes, then why not solder the SSD onto the logic board as well?

Likely because most RAM slots sit at something like a 30 degree angle on the board. No matter how tight you make it they are going to take up space. The SSD blades don't the limitation of the SO-DIMM form factor so soldering was not an issue. I don't think Apple soldered the memory on the board to prevent upgrades as that's a good source of margin for them for Build-to-Order. I believe they did so because of space as they've said.
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post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Likely because most RAM slots sit at something like a 30 degree angle on the board. No matter how tight you make it they are going to take up space. The SSD blades don't the limitation of the SO-DIMM form factor so soldering was not an issue. I don't think Apple soldered the memory on the board to prevent upgrades as that's a good source of margin for them for Build-to-Order. I believe they did so because of space as they've said.

You insert them at an angle but then they sit parallel to the rest of the board. Without rehashing all the reasons why a component would be soldered instead of user removable, I think the biggest reasons for Apple is that it allows for faster RAM access and better results in reliable design.

What I think Haggar and other keep missing is that there is no room for standard RAM in those machines. They already don't get great battery life compared to the other Mac notebooks despite the unique design.

You can see from this image that the RAM is not sorted in the standard way -and- that it sits below the SSD stick as noted by the mini-PCIe plug to the left of the RAM. They could use two of these mini-PCIe slots just not in the current design thickness.

Hopefully we can see them create a user-replaceable RAM option or at least start with 4GB at the current price point, but that depends on engineering and economics, respectively.
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post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquatic View Post

Question on the new Airs. Because my fiancee will be getting either the new one or the current gen. at discount.

This is the best way to buy Apple hardware. Either get the discounted discontinued product or buy the latest and greatest at debut.
Quote:
As wizard69 has mentioned TurboBoost allows the new CPUs to run very fast but only when needed. Thus, I assume the Sandy Bridge CPU will be more battery efficient, even while having increased performance.

I haven't found yet the exact info about how TurboBoost will work on the ULV processors. Some info I've seen is actually hard to believe. In any event SB is expected to be more battery efficient, but how much better than Core 2 Duo is unknown. Laptops are systems not just a Processor chip, Apple could effectively lower the overall system power demand significantly thus making a comparison harder to do.
Quote:
However, does the removal of a discrete graphics card (NVIDIA 320M) for the integrated Intel gfx mean this will also boost the battery life as well?

It should. However you are almost never comparing apples to apples here. We will give up some performance and capability with the Intel GPU but the on die integration does have real benefits one of them being power usage.
Quote:
In that sense, I'm beginning to think I will buy the new generation MacBook Air, partly because I expect while the graphics will be slightly worse, this sacrifice for integrated graphics will result in better battery life, which is a fair trade for our purposes.

Just to be clear the graphics performance might not be worst for you as it depends upon your specific needs. The GPU in SB is a vary good 2D processor and isn't to bad for modest 3D needs.

The GPU comes up short in a couple of regards. 1) OpenCL isn't supported. This could really suck for some users. 2) The chip is far from being a gaming 3D processor. In fact it is crap for many 3D uses that stress advance features.

Oh buy the way don't put to much trust in sights like Adandtech that gloss over the SB GPU's weak points. Just be aware that it comes up short in some regards but like I say isn't to bad for some 3D work.
Quote:

I'm just going by my experience with my 2010 MacBook Pro use with Cody Krieger's graphics card switcher app. I notice that without the NVIDIA card on, I get 4 or 5 hours of moderate use. Aways have. (Apple always seems to drastically overestimate battery. 10 hours, yeah right). But...when I switch to having the NVIDIA card on full time, I get only about 2, maybe 3 hours! Of moderate to light use! It also adds a lot of heat.

I'm not going out on limb here and predicting the new AIRs performance. It is likely to be extremely good. However we don't know the exact configuration nor any details about the battery. The best I can offer is that it should be extremely good relative to the current model.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Likely because most RAM slots sit at something like a 30 degree angle on the board. No matter how tight you make it they are going to take up space. The SSD blades don't the limitation of the SO-DIMM form factor so soldering was not an issue. I don't think Apple soldered the memory on the board to prevent upgrades as that's a good source of margin for them for Build-to-Order. I believe they did so because of space as they've said.

One only needs to look inside an AIR to realize space is an issue. But there is one other benefit from soldering the components in place, that is it should increase reliability and improve the machines resistance to shock.

With the SSD and the elimination of many interconnects the AIRs ought to be more reliable. At least from the mechanical standpoint. Thermal issues are another ball game.

Speaking of thermal issues it does make one wonder if Apple will make use of TurboBoost and how much of a boost they will support. It will also be interesting to see how far the platform will go before thermal throttling.
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