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Speculation - 15" MacBook Air

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I will speculate a bit about what a hypothetical 15" MacBook Air would be like.

First weight. I note these weights for existing models:
13" MacBook Air: 1.32 kg
13" MacBook Pro: 2.04 kg
15" MacBook Pro: 2.54 kg

The 13" MBA is 720 grams lighter than the 13" MBP. The 13" MBA is 35.3% lighter than the 13" MBP. Subtracting 720 grams from the 15" MBP leaves 1.82 kg. Subtracting 35.3% from the 15" MBP leaves 1.64 kg. So, a 15" MBA should weigh between 1.64 and 1.82 kg, which is substantially lighter than a 13" MBP. My guess is that a 15" MBA would probably weigh between 1.70 and 1.80 kg.

I note that the 11" and 13" models have the same thickness. I don't see any reason why a 15" MBA would need to be any thicker than the 11" and 13" MBAs.

The larger case would have better heat dissipation capacity than a 13" MBA and space for more battery. I believe a 25W CPU plus a discreet GPU would be possible in a 15" MBA.

There should also be room for an SDXC card slot.

I would like to see 4GB fixed RAM, the same flash drives as the current MBAs, and no rotating media.
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post #2 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I will speculate a bit about what a hypothetical 15" MacBook Air would be like.

First weight. I note these weights for existing models:
13" MacBook Air: 1.32 kg
13" MacBook Pro: 2.04 kg
15" MacBook Pro: 2.54 kg

The 13" MBA is 720 grams lighter than the 13" MBP. The 13" MBA is 35.3% lighter than the 13" MBP. Subtracting 720 grams from the 15" MBP leaves 1.82 kg. Subtracting 35.3% from the 15" MBP leaves 1.64 kg. So, a 15" MBA should weigh between 1.64 and 1.82 kg, which is substantially lighter than a 13" MBP. My guess is that a 15" MBA would probably weigh between 1.70 and 1.80 kg.

I would hope the 15" AIR would be a bit thicker. For two reasons. One is to stiffen up the bigger case. Second is to allow for a slightly bigger battery.
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I note that the 11" and 13" models have the same thickness. I don't see any reason why a 15" MBA would need to be any thicker than the 11" and 13" MBAs.

The only technical reason I could imagine is stiffness.
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The larger case would have better heat dissipation capacity than a 13" MBA and space for more battery. I believe a 25W CPU plus a discreet GPU would be possible in a 15" MBA.

Removing heat from a processor depends upon moving AIR. To do that well, to support a hotter processor, you need a thicker machine.

In any event a little more performance out of the CPU would be very welcomed.
Quote:
There should also be room for an SDXC card slot.

I would like to see 4GB fixed RAM, the same flash drives as the current MBAs, and no rotating media.

Actually I think Apple could do much better flash drive wise. In any event we need more than one slot.
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I would hope the 15" AIR would be a bit thicker. For two reasons. One is to stiffen up the bigger case. Second is to allow for a slightly bigger battery.

I wouldn't mind if a 15" MBA were slightly thicker than the 11" and 13" models. Battery capacity could be increased without an increase in thickness because a 15" MBA would have more internal volume than a 13" MBA of the same thickness. Regardless, a 15" MBA would weigh less than a 13" MBP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Removing heat from a processor depends upon moving AIR.

Yes, but it's not quite that simple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

To do that well, to support a hotter processor, you need a thicker machine.

Not necessarily. The 13" MBA moves a much larger volume of air than the 11" MBA despite that they are exactly the same thickness. A 15" MBA of the same thickness could move yet even more air. Enough to go from a 17W CPU to a 25W CPU. Ivy Bridge will enable 25W quad-core CPUs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In any event a little more performance out of the CPU would be very welcomed.

The greater internal volume available for batteries in a 15" MBA combined with the greater airflow capacity -- assuming a 15" MBA would have the same thickness as the 11" and 13" MBAs -- would definitely allow for more processor power, but still less than that of the 15" MBP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Actually I think Apple could do much better flash drive wise. In any event we need more than one slot.

Sorry if I was less than clear. I meant the same type of flash drives (same interface and form factor). I didn't mean the same capacities or performance. I would like to see a 512GB option and someday more.

The idea of two slots for SSDs is interesting, but Apple seem to want to discourage user servicing.
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post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I wouldn't mind if a 15" MBA were slightly thicker than the 11" and 13" models. Battery capacity could be increased without an increase in thickness because a 15" MBA would have more internal volume than a 13" MBA of the same thickness. Regardless, a 15" MBA would weigh less than a 13" MBP.

Yes that is true but then I'm expecting better processor performance to offset that space gain. Maybe even more capability, such as expanded I/O or maybe even a discrete GPU. Better yet put in a AMD Fusion to actually advance GPU performance in the AIR line up.

in any event i'd want Apple to keep the platform durable before they worry about how thin they can make the machine. Too thin and the 15" AIR would behave like sheet metal and flop about. We aren't talking about a huge increase in thickness here anyways, just enough to maintain quality.
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Yes, but it's not quite that simple.

Well yes and no. Due the laptops size there are real physical limits on what cooling tech you can use. In the end You need to move the air to cool the electronics.
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Not necessarily. The 13" MBA moves a much larger volume of air than the 11" MBA despite that they are exactly the same thickness. A 15" MBA of the same thickness could move yet even more air. Enough to go from a 17W CPU to a 25W CPU. Ivy Bridge will enable 25W quad-core CPUs.

The only way you would move more air is if you add more fans or bigger fans.
Quote:

The greater internal volume available for batteries in a 15" MBA combined with the greater airflow capacity -- assuming a 15" MBA would have the same thickness as the 11" and 13" MBAs -- would definitely allow for more processor power, but still less than that of the 15" MBP.

I have no doubt that in a year or two the AIR will out perform the current MBP. There is a lot of interesting tech coming on line related to low power electronics. Currently though a good upgrade to my old 2008 MBP would make me happy.
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Sorry if I was less than clear. I meant the same type of flash drives (same interface and form factor). I didn't mean the same capacities or performance. I would like to see a 512GB option and someday more.

SSD's are really nice and all but the storage limitation really does suck. So I'm in agreement Apple needs to push hard with respect to SSD capacity.
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The idea of two slots for SSDs is interesting, but Apple seem to want to discourage user servicing.

This really isn't the case. Like I've mentioned I have an old 2008 MBP that is a servicing disaster, today MBP are far better from the standpoint of serviceability. Apple went a very long way to making the hardware a pleasure to work on. Even if Apple got up tight about user access we still have the ability to take a machine to a service center and ask for an additional SSD. The ability to upgrade you storage as needed is very useful and can help keep a machine usable for more than a couple of years.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Hey maybe we will know in a couple of weeks what is coming.

I hope so. I'm really hoping for a 15" MBA. I realize that a 15" MBA would, to an extent, cannibalize 13" MBA and 15" MBP sales, but I believe the net additional sales would be significant. I also believe buyers who choose a 15" MBA over a 15" MBP would help to drive iTunes growth. The introduction of 10.7 Lion with upgrades only by download is a good time to expand upward the MBA line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Yes that is true but then I'm expecting better processor performance to offset that space gain. Maybe even more capability, such as expanded I/O or maybe even a discrete GPU. Better yet put in a AMD Fusion to actually advance GPU performance in the AIR line up.

A 15" MBA (whether the same thickness as the 11" and 13" MBAs or a millimeter thicker for added rigidity) should have enough space, cooling capacity, and battery capacity for a 25W CPU + a discreet GPU. With Ivy Bridge next year, Intel will be offering 25W quad-core CPUs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

in any event i'd want Apple to keep the platform durable before they worry about how thin they can make the machine. Too thin and the 15" AIR would behave like sheet metal and flop about. We aren't talking about a huge increase in thickness here anyways, just enough to maintain quality.

That's true. A 15" MBA might need to be one millimeter thicker than the 11" and 13" MBAs to maintain rigidity. I would not have any complaints if a 15" MBA were a bit thicker than the 11" and 13" models. Even with an extra millimeter to maintain rigidity, a 15" MBA would still be substantially lighter in weight than the 13" MBP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Due the laptops size there are real physical limits on what cooling tech you can use. In the end You need to move the air to cool the electronics.

Yes, that's right. However, the main constraint one how much air one can move through a Mac laptop is the length of the exhaust outlet space along the hinge. A 15" MBA would have about 4cm more hinge length than the 13" MBA and hence that much more space for hot air exhaust, as well as space for a second fan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The only way you would move more air is if you add more fans or bigger fans.

Right. The increased area is all that's needed to add another fan. Another millimeter of thickness would facilitate increasing fan size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

SSD's are really nice and all but the storage limitation really does suck. So I'm in agreement Apple needs to push hard with respect to SSD capacity.

I'm writing this on a 15" MBP with the optional 128GB SSD. I'll probably buy the 256GB SSD next time, but I'm living comfortably with 128GB. I understand that some people need a lot more storage. No doubt Apple will move as quickly as the technology allows to 512GB, 1TB, and eventually even larger SSD sticks.

With good OS support for one volume spanning multiple physical drives, mirroring, etc., supporting two SSD sticks in a 15" MBA might be a good idea.
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post #6 of 33
I love this idea, and would totally buy a 15" MacBook Air, although I'd love it even more if they managed to squish 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 into there.
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OoTLink View Post

I'd love it even more if they managed to squish 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 into there.

I would also prefer 1920x1200, but I think all we can realistically hope for in 2011 is 1680x1050. I would buy a 15" MBA with 1680x1050 without hesitation. If it were feature only 1440x900, I would probably wait for the next revision.
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post #8 of 33
Well, my speculation is it's not gonna happen. We'll have to wait for the MacBook Pro line next year which will incorporate MacBook Air features like no ODD, flash blades, wedge shape, etc.
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

Well, my speculation is it's not gonna happen. We'll have to wait for the MacBook Pro line next year which will incorporate MacBook Air features like no ODD, flash blades, wedge shape, etc.

In other words with the new AIRs so close but yet nothing solid being leaked we could get just about anything. As to next years Mac Book Pro lineup I don't see them going that way, there remains valid need for Pro performance machines and to get such performance you need a more voluminous enclosure.

Many people seem to be of the mind that AIRs will eliminate the need for the Pro line up. I don't see this happening anytime soon. Apple needs different machines simply to feed the demands of their large user base.

For me I'm very hopeful that a 15" AIR is coming. Such a machine, if configured properly, could easily replace my early 2008 MBP. The configured properly is very important here because as much as I like the AIRs they come up short in a couple of ways. Especially if they go to an Intel integrated GPU only and don't do something about internal storage expansion. I'm looking for an AIR that would be a solid step forward relative to my current machine. Apple could certainly make such a 15" AIR but the question is will they.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In other words with the new AIRs so close but yet nothing solid being leaked we could get just about anything. As to next years Mac Book Pro lineup I don't see them going that way, there remains valid need for Pro performance machines and to get such performance you need a more voluminous enclosure.

Many people seem to be of the mind that AIRs will eliminate the need for the Pro line up. I don't see this happening anytime soon. Apple needs different machines simply to feed the demands of their large user base.

Someday the MacBook Pro will drop the internal optical brick. Other than that, I don't see the MacBook Pro converging toward the MacBook Air in any way (other than the 1440x900 resolution on the 13" model, where the MacBook Air dramatically outshines the MacBook Pro).

The MacBook Air is focused on light weight and thin. The MacBook Pro is focused on performance. These are conflicting goals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

For me I'm very hopeful that a 15" AIR is coming. Such a machine, if configured properly, could easily replace my early 2008 MBP. The configured properly is very important here because as much as I like the AIRs they come up short in a couple of ways. Especially if they go to an Intel integrated GPU only and don't do something about internal storage expansion. I'm looking for an AIR that would be a solid step forward relative to my current machine. Apple could certainly make such a 15" AIR but the question is will they.

At least with a 15" MacBook Air, a discrete GPU seems to me like a no-brainer -- even if the 11" or both the 11" and 13" models get integrated graphics.
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post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Someday the MacBook Pro will drop the internal optical brick. Other than that, I don't see the MacBook Pro converging toward the MacBook Air in any way (other than the 1440x900 resolution on the 13" model, where the MacBook Air dramatically outshines the MacBook Pro).

Actually I think the pros will be the first to have their linear resolution doubled. Lion seems to be on track as the transitional OS to resolution independence. At least that is what I get from reading between the lines. Since such a change would require 4 times the GPU power the Pros are the best place to make the change. At least at this time, integrated GPUs should catch up quickly ie a couple of years.

The brick is an interesting deal, some do love that optical! Personally I'd rather see the space go to secondary storage. Between the extra disk and the big battery I don't see the Pros getting all that much thinner.
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The MacBook Air is focused on light weight and thin. The MacBook Pro is focused on performance. These are conflicting goals.

Exactly. This is why I really don't understand the people that think the Pros will go away. These are selling into very different markets.
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At least with a 15" MacBook Air, a discrete GPU seems to me like a no-brainer -- even if the 11" or both the 11" and 13" models get integrated graphics.

This is where technology gets very interesting. Right at this very moment the best processor for a hypothetical 15" AIR is a AMD device. That would give them very good GPU performance and close to Intel CPU performance. Since the AIRs are by no means performance power houses this would be an excellent fit. The AMD GPU beats the crap out of the Intel and actually runs a bit cooler. They would likely need a slightly thicker case for better cooling but that is a given in the 15" model.

In any event I do hope that the next couple of weeks deliver some real surprises. Apple has more options than it ever did for building out it's Mac line up.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Actually I think the pros will be the first to have their linear resolution doubled. Lion seems to be on track as the transitional OS to resolution independence. At least that is what I get from reading between the lines. Since such a change would require 4 times the GPU power the Pros are the best place to make the change. At least at this time, integrated GPUs should catch up quickly ie a couple of years.

We're now late in the transition from 90-100 dpi to 125-135 dpi for the Mac line. Back around 10.4, 130dpi would have been a bit problematic for many users. 10.5 and 10.6 do a good job, in my opinion, of supporting the full range from 90 dpi to 135 dpi, but I expect 10.7 Lion to drop the other shoe and be optimized fully for 125-135 dpi at the expense of looking a bit "bloated" at 100 dpi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The brick is an interesting deal, some do love that optical!

I guess about 1% of MacBook users use the optical several times per week and another few % several times per year. The numbers would be overrepresented here in the forum due to self-selection. MacBook Air sales show that consumers are ready to accept laptops without optical bricks. (Yes, I know that a few users need an optical drive and they will have to be satisfied carrying an external drive or keeping a dated MacBook Pro.

There is a chance that the optical drive might become a BTO option on the MacBook Pro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Personally I'd rather see the space go to secondary storage. Between the extra disk and the big battery I don't see the Pros getting all that much thinner.

In the medium term, I think the MacBook Pro will get the SSD stick + HD ala the iMac, not a full second drive bay. I agree that some of the space now wasted on the optical brick may be used for additional battery capacity, so I'm also not expecting a dramatically thinner or wedged MacBook Pro. I would guess one or two millimeters thinner, about 100 grams lighter, slightly better battery performance, and $100 cheaper when Apple finally take the optical brick out of the MacBook Pro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I really don't understand the people that think the Pros will go away. These are selling into very different markets.

Here is an analogy: Fighter jets and cargo jets have many similarities. They generally both benefit from the same improvements in technology. However, that does not imply convergence. I think the same is true for the MacBook and MacBook Air. The goals are different and therefore the designs will stay different.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

This is where technology gets very interesting. Right at this very moment the best processor for a hypothetical 15" AIR is a AMD device. That would give them very good GPU performance and close to Intel CPU performance. Since the AIRs are by no means performance power houses this would be an excellent fit. The AMD GPU beats the crap out of the Intel and actually runs a bit cooler. They would likely need a slightly thicker case for better cooling but that is a given in the 15" model.

I'm not too concerned about which chips Apple choose. That decision affects only one year of models, but bigger decisions may affect three or four years of models. Regardless, I expect Apple to make a reasonable CPU / GPU decision, given the technical and business constraints.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In any event I do hope that the next couple of weeks deliver some real surprises. Apple has more options than it ever did for building out it's Mac line up.

I do too. The overall Mac market has grown to the point that Apple can expand the product line a little bit (and thereby take market share) while still benefitting from the economies of scale that come with growth (and thereby earning high margins). I'm sure Apple won't return to the 1990s when they had too many diverse Macs on offer to the confusion of customers and detriment of margins. Adding a 15" MacBook Air would not, in my opinion, create any additional confusion about the Mac product line. There would still be the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, with each clearly targeted toward different design goals for different buyer preferences: low cost, maximum performance, small and light. That should be just as easy to explain to customers if a 15" MacBook Air will be introduced as it is now.
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post #13 of 33
Really interesting thread.

There can be no doubt that a 15" MBA would be eagerly snapped up by the mac faithful including myself. You and Wizard69 have done a good job in listing the key features; to summarise:
  • 25W CPU Core i7 CPU with discrete GPU
  • 4 GB RAM standard and BTO option of 8 GB
  • 256 GB SSD standard and BTO OPTION OF 512 GB and 1TB
  • LED screen with 1920x1200 or 1680x1050
  • Back-lit keyboard
  • Thunderbolt port
  • 2 x USB
  • SD card slot

A 15" MBA enclosure should easily allow 13" MacBook Pro processors to be incorporated within, so effectively what you get is a lighter MacBook Pro model.

The question is what machine would this replace?

I think that the high end 13" MBA has already replaced the 13" MacBook Pro for light users. I liked the 13" Air very much, but it still doesn't have enough horsepower for me and I doubt that Sandy Bridge is going to make a substantial difference. A 15" Air, however, with quad core processor, could easily replace the 13" MBP., but only if it is substantially lighter and with a better screen.

The other critical factor here is price.
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
The 13" MacBook Pro still has a dual-core not quad-core processor. A 25W quad-core Sandy Bridge CPU would have a clock speed much lower than 2.0GHz, be a custom design, and be very expensive. At 25W, it makes more sense to stay dual-core until Ivy Bridge, which will enable 25W quad-core processors that scream.

There are very few users who can live with the reduced CPU performance of a MacBook Air but cannot live with 4GB (especially with the swapping performance of a SSD), therefore I don't see an 8GB BTO option in 2011. More like 2013. Nearly everyone who needs 8GB will get a MacBook Pro anyway this year and next.

My guess is that in 2011, we would see SSD stick options of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB if Apple build a 15" MacBook Air, with the same options available on the new 13" model. At the moment, there isn't yet a 512GB SSD option for the 13" MacBook Air, so there is no chance of seeing a 1TB option this year.

I would expect a price of $1599 for a low-end 15" MacBook Air with:
2.0+ GHz dual-core Sandy Bridge CPU + discreet GPU
4GB RAM
128GB SSD
1680x1050
Back-lit keyboard
Thunderbolt port
2x USB
SD card slot

I think Apple could sell more than a million per year and I guess about a third to half would be net additional Mac sales.
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post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

We're now late in the transition from 90-100 dpi to 125-135 dpi for the Mac line. Back around 10.4, 130dpi would have been a bit problematic for many users. 10.5 and 10.6 do a good job, in my opinion, of supporting the full range from 90 dpi to 135 dpi, but I expect 10.7 Lion to drop the other shoe and be optimized fully for 125-135 dpi at the expense of looking a bit "bloated" at 100 dpi.

Lion should bring resolution independence at least in a transitional way. So the whole issue of how well Mac OS works at a given pixel density should go away. This should make room for very high DPI screens.
Quote:

I guess about 1% of MacBook users use the optical several times per week and another few % several times per year. The numbers would be overrepresented here in the forum due to self-selection. MacBook Air sales show that consumers are ready to accept laptops without optical bricks. (Yes, I know that a few users need an optical drive and they will have to be satisfied carrying an external drive or keeping a dated MacBook Pro.

I suppose that depends upon who you hang around. I'm certain pulling opticals out of all of the Pros would result in a lot of negative noise directed at Apple. Like you though I'm ready for an optical free machine.
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There is a chance that the optical drive might become a BTO option on the MacBook Pro.

Most likely but I suspect that is a year or two off in the future. I just see to many "Pro" users having a hissy fit.

By the way a lot of "Pro" software is still distributed on CDROM.
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In the medium term, I think the MacBook Pro will get the SSD stick + HD ala the iMac, not a full second drive bay. I agree that some of the space now wasted on the optical brick may be used for additional battery capacity, so I'm also not expecting a dramatically thinner or wedged MacBook Pro. I would guess one or two millimeters thinner, about 100 grams lighter, slightly better battery performance, and $100 cheaper when Apple finally take the optical brick out of the MacBook Pro.

That would be just as viable. However I'd actually like to see multiple SSD "card" slots. I say card slots there because the industry is work on a printed circuit card standard for SSD's. Ideally Apple would adopt this standard.

There are a couple of reasons for liking this approach. One; magnetic drives are still needed for bulk storage and likely will be needed for at least 5 more years. Two; The rapid improvement in SSD's means that you could conceivably upgrade a machine in a year or so very economically. At least for me the price break where SSD's become to expensive is below my base storage needs. In other words Affordable SSD's for a boot / Applications drive is just a bit to expensive for the storage I need. Since that storage need continues to grow and the storage capacity of SSD's continues to increase I'm hoping for a viable solution real soon now.
Quote:
Here is an analogy: Fighter jets and cargo jets have many similarities. They generally both benefit from the same improvements in technology. However, that does not imply convergence. I think the same is true for the MacBook and MacBook Air. The goals are different and therefore the designs will stay different.

Yep. There is only so much that can be stuffed into any AIR. Be it more storage, faster processors or other necessities so user will require more.
Quote:
I'm not too concerned about which chips Apple choose. That decision affects only one year of models, but bigger decisions may affect three or four years of models. Regardless, I expect Apple to make a reasonable CPU / GPU decision, given the technical and business constraints.

Well I do see some importance in serving up some Macs with AMD chips. Mainly you don't want to be tied to tightly to Intel and its marketing tricks. Technically though the more I read about AMD's latest Fusion processors the more I'm impressed. They are almost ideal for the Mini, and some of Apples portables.
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I do too. The overall Mac market has grown to the point that Apple can expand the product line a little bit (and thereby take market share) while still benefitting from the economies of scale that come with growth (and thereby earning high margins). I'm sure Apple won't return to the 1990s when they had too many diverse Macs on offer to the confusion of customers and detriment of margins.

I really don't believe the myth about consumer confusion. Apple had problems mostly due to declining sales, something that is no longer an issue.
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Adding a 15" MacBook Air would not, in my opinion, create any additional confusion about the Mac product line. There would still be the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, with each clearly targeted toward different design goals for different buyer preferences: low cost, maximum performance, small and light. That should be just as easy to explain to customers if a 15" MacBook Air will be introduced as it is now.

I don't see a problem my self but that doesn't mean people won't imagine doom and gloom. If it wasn't for my old eyes I would have a AIR right now.
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Really interesting thread.

There can be no doubt that a 15" MBA would be eagerly snapped up by the mac faithful including myself. You and Wizard69 have done a good job in listing the key features; to summarise:

Actually I'm hoping for a bit more but realize I'm asking for a lot.
Quote:
  • 25W CPU Core i7 CPU with discrete GPU

  • I do believe a 15" AIR could be designed to operate at a higher wattage level. Remember any chip used would have built in GPU's.
    Quote:
  • 4 GB RAM standard and BTO option of 8 GB
  • 256 GB SSD standard and BTO OPTION OF 512 GB and 1TB
    With solid state storage this one is tough. Near term I'd rather see more than one SSD slot. Simply because getting enough base storage is to expensive right now. Above 256GB SSD pricing is a little hard to take.
    Quote:
  • LED screen with 1920x1200 or 1680x1050
  • Back-lit keyboard
  • Thunderbolt port
  • 2 x USB
    I'd prefer 3 USB ports.
    Quote:
  • SD card slot
Quote:
A 15" MBA enclosure should easily allow 13" MacBook Pro processors to be incorporated within, so effectively what you get is a lighter MacBook Pro model.

Such a AIR needs the absolute latest in processor technology.
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The question is what machine would this replace?

It would replace nothing.
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I think that the high end 13" MBA has already replaced the 13" MacBook Pro for light users. I liked the 13" Air very much, but it still doesn't have enough horsepower for me and I doubt that Sandy Bridge is going to make a substantial difference.

Really? SB would make a huge difference compared to the current AIR. Well at least Processor wise. Go to AMD's Fusion lineup and you would get much better GPU behavior and at least somewhat better performance than the current CPU. It won't be a SB class processor but it won't be bad at all for the class of machine we are talking about.

If you are expecting a stunning jump in CPU performance I think you will have to wait until the middle of next year when Ivy Bridge comes out.
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A 15" Air, however, with quad core processor, could easily replace the 13" MBP., but only if it is substantially lighter and with a better screen.

For me there is a lot to be said for bigger is better. Without resolution independence the current AIR screens are just to small or compressed for me to feel comfortable with.
Quote:
The other critical factor here is price.

Yeah I worry about this too. The problem is no matter how high quality my MBP is, it isn't markedly better hardware than anything else available in 2008. The OS is a big draw but Apple needs to keep a steady eye on MicroSoft, they could suffer a significant backlash if MS ever gets its act together and really cleaned up Windows.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
Selling a hypothetical 15" MacBook Air to the faithful is not going to make Apple a lot of money. I think Apple can sell enough 15" MacBook Airs to new adopters to increase their profit by $200M to $500M per year. That's only about 1 to 2% of Apple's profit, but there is no point in leaving money on the table. The opportunity cost would be low.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm certain pulling opticals out of all of the Pros would result in a lot of negative noise directed at Apple.

Of course. Unhappy customers let the vendor know about their unhappiness in much greater proportions than happy customers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

By the way a lot of "Pro" software is still distributed on CDROM.

That's still going to be true for another year or two. However, an external optical brick is just as good for software installation as an internal optical brick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

However I'd actually like to see multiple SSD "card" slots. I say card slots there because the industry is work on a printed circuit card standard for SSD's. Ideally Apple would adopt this standard.

I can imagine future MacBook Pro models supporting multiple SSD cards, but not the MacBook or MacBook Air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I really don't believe the myth about consumer confusion. Apple had problems mostly due to declining sales, something that is no longer an issue.

Consumer confusion is one of the reasons why sales were declining. It was not the only reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'd rather see more than one SSD slot. Simply because getting enough base storage is to expensive right now. Above 256GB SSD pricing is a little hard to take.

I don't expect one 512GB SSD to be much more expensive than two 256GB SSDs, so I don't think price supports you here. I think the better arguments are what you want are:
- greater overall capacity
- RAID performance and reliability
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post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Actually I'm hoping for a bit more but realize I'm asking for a lot.
I do believe a 15" AIR could be designed to operate at a higher wattage level. Remember any chip used would have built in GPU's.

The 25W Sandy Bridge CPUs shipping today that would be suitable for a 15" MacBook Air are:
2649M 2.3GHz 4MB L3 cache $346
2629M 2.1GHz 4MB L3 cache $311

To use 35W CPUs in a 15" MacBook Air would mean either making it thicker and heavier than otherwise necessary or doing without a discreet GPU. I would rather having a thinner, lighter design with a discreet GPU and settle for a 25W CPU. Ivy Bridge will introduce screaming fast quad-core 25W CPUs next year. Even the slower of the two 25W Sandy Bridge CPUs listed above would be significantly faster than the fastest MacBook Air to date.

If I had to choose between a thinner, lighter 15" MacBook Air with a 35W CPU but no discreet GPU or one thicker heavier one with a 35W CPU plus a discreet GPU, I would opt for the thinner, lighter model with only the CPU's built-in graphics.

Could Apple pay Intel to develop a 30W CPU specially for a 15" MacBook Air? Of course, but it would be expensive. 25W looks like the sweet spot to me.
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post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

The 25W Sandy Bridge CPUs shipping today that would be suitable for a 15" MacBook Air are:
2649M 2.3GHz 4MB L3 cache $346
2629M 2.1GHz 4MB L3 cache $311

Very nice indeed but a little slow if you only have two cores.
Quote:
To use 35W CPUs in a 15" MacBook Air would mean either making it thicker and heavier than otherwise necessary or doing without a discreet GPU.

True the point load becomes a problem but there are solutions for that. As to the discrete GPU I would find that hard to give up also but a discreet takes a bit more power than is a acceptable. Don't forget the high speed memory.

I still think the best option here is one of AMDs new Fusion processors. You give up some CPU performance for much better GPU performance and you get OpenCL support. Considering that any discreet GPU would likely be AMD anyways I suspect this could lead to a very nice AIR.

Oh honestly a millimeter or two here or there isn't really a problem in a 15" device. Like I mentioned elsewhere it is likely needed anyways to stiffen the chassis.
Quote:
I would rather having a thinner, lighter design with a discreet GPU and settle for a 25W CPU.

if it wasn't thinner and lighter it wouldn't be much of an AIR!!!
Quote:
Ivy Bridge will introduce screaming fast quad-core 25W CPUs next year. Even the slower of the two 25W Sandy Bridge CPUs listed above would be significantly faster than the fastest MacBook Air to date.

Ivy Bridge has potential but let's face it they need to put a lot of effort into the GPU. Especially in the context of AIR like machines the GPU is very important. Admittedly if Intel can deliver the low power suggested many will find Ivy Brudge to be their processor no matter how sucky the GPU.

As to the performance of the new processors they would certainly be a step up for many users but also a step back for others. The others being heavy users of OpenCL and 3D. This is what has ne perplexed, a 15" AIR with one of these processors will need an additional GPU which of course puts us back into fitting it all in and still calling it an AIR.
Quote:
If I had to choose between a thinner, lighter 15" MacBook Air with a 35W CPU but no discreet GPU or one thicker heavier one with a 35W CPU plus a discreet GPU, I would opt for the thinner, lighter model with only the CPU's built-in graphics.

For me I think a third option would be better, how about a 25 watt CPU with the addition of a discreet GPU. That is if we go the Intel route. Go AMD I "MIGHT" settle for the in chip GPU.
Quote:
Could Apple pay Intel to develop a 30W CPU specially for a 15" MacBook Air? Of course, but it would be expensive. 25W looks like the sweet spot to me.

Expensive? Nah they would just pay intel to sort out those that run reliably at 2.4 or 2.6 GHz. Especially today where many of the chips out there will run beyond their stamped speeds.

Sweet? I really don't want to say as Apple has so many laptop choices these days that it is a pure guessing game. My point of view right now is that for most people CPU performance isn't as important as GPU performance when it comes to buying an AIR. So while I want them to move beyond 2GHz in the CPU core I would rather see a sound advancement in GPU performance. Let's face it nobody buys the AIRs for outstanding CPU performance because they are crap for CPU bound uses. However very few AIR users are exercising their machines in this manner but they do want good video performance without killing the battery.

As it is it looks like this will all be settled in 13 days or so.
post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Very nice indeed but a little slow if you only have two cores.

The 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge should be about as fast as my 2.66GHz 2010 15" MacBook Pro. I think most MacBook Air buyers, whether new to Apple or old-timers, would be happy with such performance. Regardless, Ivy Bridge will bring quad-core 25W CPUs in 2012.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Oh honestly a millimeter or two here or there isn't really a problem in a 15" device. Like I mentioned elsewhere it is likely needed anyways to stiffen the chassis.

I'm not convinced that any extra thickness would be needed, but would not complain about an extra millimeter if needed. I can't imagine two millimeters being needed for additional stiffness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

As to the performance of the new processors they would certainly be a step up for many users but also a step back for others. The others being heavy users of OpenCL and 3D. This is what has ne perplexed, a 15" AIR with one of these processors will need an additional GPU which of course puts us back into fitting it all in and still calling it an AIR.

... My point of view right now is that for most people CPU performance isn't as important as GPU performance when it comes to buying an AIR. So while I want them to move beyond 2GHz in the CPU core I would rather see a sound advancement in GPU performance. Let's face it nobody buys the AIRs for outstanding CPU performance because they are crap for CPU bound uses. However very few AIR users are exercising their machines in this manner but they do want good video performance without killing the battery.

Long-term, the trend is toward integration of everything, including the GPU. Within a few years, the integrated GPUs will give as much performance as anyone needs. I don't think Sandy Bridge will include sufficient graphics performance for many users, but Ivy Bridge might.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

As it is it looks like this will all be settled in 13 days or so.

This imminent introduction of Sandy Bridge MacBook Air models will be a good opportunity to add a 15" model to the line, but not the only opportunity.
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post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I still think the best option here is one of AMDs new Fusion processors. You give up some CPU performance for much better GPU performance and you get OpenCL support. Considering that any discreet GPU would likely be AMD anyways I suspect this could lead to a very nice AIR.

What Fusion processor would that be?
The DC 1.9GHz (A4-3300M) or the QC 1.5GHz (A8-3500M) both at 35W? With phenon-based cores not even on par with C2D cores at the same clock. You would give up a lot of cpu performance and a lot of battery life (compared to LV Core i7-26xxM cpus).

I' rather have a DC 1.8GHz Core i7-2677M (17W) + a dedicated gpu like the 6490M (10-15W) of the entry-level 15" MBP, in an hypothetical 15" MBA, than any of AMD's apu models at 35W. And if they can put a DC 2.3GHz Core i7-2649M (25W) + a 6490M (35-40W total), even better.

Oh, and Intel's cores can run OpenCL code just fine.

11" MBA starting at $999
Core i5-2557M (3M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.70 GHz, 17W) $250
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317

13" MBA starting at $1299
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317 (better battery life)
Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W) $346 (better performance)

15" MBA starting at $1599 (if released this year)
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317 (better battery life)
Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W) $346 (better performance)
with a Radeon HD 6490M/256MB, and a 2nd SSD blade slot (if possible)
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

The 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge should be about as fast as my 2.66GHz 2010 15" MacBook Pro. I think most MacBook Air buyers, whether new to Apple or old-timers, would be happy with such performance. Regardless, Ivy Bridge will bring quad-core 25W CPUs in 2012.

Well we need to see those ULV machines out in the wild to know how they will perform. Sandy Bridge chips can run extremely hot when loaded, so I'm not at all sure how they will perform in an AIR.
Quote:

I'm not convinced that any extra thickness would be needed, but would not complain about an extra millimeter if needed. I can't imagine two millimeters being needed for additional stiffness.

It doesn't take much to up the volume. An extra mm or two in battery compartment thickness could add up to a sizable gain in battery capacity. In any event I'm not at all worried about a mm or two has it wouldn't even be noticed in a 15" platform.
Quote:

Long-term, the trend is toward integration of everything, including the GPU. Within a few years, the integrated GPUs will give as much performance as anyone needs. I don't think Sandy Bridge will include sufficient graphics performance for many users, but Ivy Bridge might.

AMD is already there, they have a very good GPU in their Fusion product. Ivy Bridge is supposedly much better but we will have to see what Intel actually delivers.
Quote:

This imminent introduction of Sandy Bridge MacBook Air models will be a good opportunity to add a 15" model to the line, but not the only opportunity.

True! On the other hand it would have some synergy with Lion to really drive sales.
post #23 of 33
As such we are talking about slow processors to begin with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjteix View Post

What Fusion processor would that be?
The DC 1.9GHz (A4-3300M) or the QC 1.5GHz (A8-3500M) both at 35W? With phenon-based cores not even on par with C2D cores at the same clock. You would give up a lot of cpu performance and a lot of battery life (compared to LV Core i7-26xxM cpus).

Actually I like the quad core A8 myself. Such a processor would be a big jump in performance over the current AIRs. AMD was able to extract a 6% performance gain out of them so that is a good start. Then you have four cores which is a big plus. Ad the ability to speed step and you are well out in front of the current pokey C2D.

Not to mention the GPU is far better than the Intel offering and it runs at lower power. Of course the GPU supports OpenCL which is huge for the apps that support it. Also the AMD chip supports more modern 3D features and more importantly doesn't barf on 3D.

All of this from a processor that consumes 35 watts and doesn't have the problems intel has with peak power usage.
Quote:
I' rather have a DC 1.8GHz Core i7-2677M (17W) + a dedicated gpu like the 6490M (10-15W) of the entry-level 15" MBP, in an hypothetical 15" MBA, than any of AMD's apu models at 35W. And if they can put a DC 2.3GHz Core i7-2649M (25W) + a 6490M (35-40W total), even better.

you would likely end up with a machine that performs like crap and eats batteries like crazy. It surprises a lot of people but AMD made great advances in power usage with this chips. Further Intels power numbers and AMDs are not the same, intel can and will peak at a lot higher power levels than the labeled power. Add to that the power cost of communicating with the GPU and it's RAM and you end up using a lot of power.
Quote:
Oh, and Intel's cores can run OpenCL code just fine.

No they don't. You can't run OpenCL code on SB's GPU, the last OpenCL libs I saw from Intel where for OpenCL on the CPU. That is a fairly useless feature if you ask me.
Quote:
11" MBA starting at $999
Core i5-2557M (3M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.70 GHz, 17W) $250
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317

13" MBA starting at $1299
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317 (better battery life)
Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W) $346 (better performance)

15" MBA starting at $1599 (if released this year)
Core i7-2677M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 1.80 GHz, 17W) $317 (better battery life)
Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W) $346 (better performance)
with a Radeon HD 6490M/256MB, and a 2nd SSD blade slot (if possible)

$1600 is way to much for a 15" AIR.

You are probably close with respect to configurations though. I'm not sure Apple is ready to support two chip suppliers. I honestly believe though that AMD has the better chip. In the end P better GPU performance is more important than CPU performance on these machines. Even then we would see a CPU boost over the current machines. Beyond all of that a Fusion based machine should draw less power on average.

To bad this isn't a public forum where I could ask for a show of hands. The question to ask would be how many AIR owners purchased their machines for CPU performance. Not many I would suspect.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

$1600 is way to much for a 15" AIR.

I disagree emphatically. The current 15" MacBook Pro (which for me is a much less desirable machine than our hypothetical 15" MacBook Air) starts at $1799. A 2.13GHz 13" MacBook Air with 4GB currently costs $1799. $1799 used to be the entry-level price for the most basic 13" MacBook Air.

In my opinion $1599 would be a great price for a low-end 15" MacBook Air. I would not hesitate to pay $2499 for a better configured 15" MacBook Air with:
- 2.3GHz Core i7-2649M Sandy Bridge
- 4GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 1680x1050 (or higher)
- backlit keyboard
- Thunderbolt
- 2x USB
- SD card slot

Note that I did not include a discreet GPU in the list of features for which I would pay $2499. I would prefer a discreet GPU, but I would much rather live with integrated Sandy Bridge graphics than have to lug around an optical brick.
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post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I disagree emphatically.

Well you are free to do so but you'd be wrong. Especially considering that such machines offer little in the way of features over an 11" AIR. The bigger screens don't cost that much.
Quote:
The current 15" MacBook Pro (which for me is a much less desirable machine than our hypothetical 15" MacBook Air) starts at $1799.

Yes and that is a feature rich machine. AIR is not so rich in features and can hardly justify the high price on the 13" machine now.
Quote:
A 2.13GHz 13" MacBook Air with 4GB currently costs $1799. $1799 used to be the entry-level price for the most basic 13" MacBook Air.

yes but is that price really justified? To put it bluntly I'm getting a little tired of inflating Apples margins because I want a machine with additional capabilities over the base model. IPad here is the worst considering what they charge for more flash. However the thought is the same, there is nothing extra in that 13" AIR that justifies the huge increase in pricing.
Quote:
In my opinion $1599 would be a great price for a low-end 15" MacBook Air.

I'm sorry but $1600 is not low end in anybodies book.
Quote:
I would not hesitate to pay $2499 for a better configured 15" MacBook Air with:

Apple must love you.
Quote:
- 2.3GHz Core i7-2649M Sandy Bridge
- 4GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 1680x1050 (or higher)
- backlit keyboard
- Thunderbolt
- 2x USB
- SD card slot

You do realize that is a run of the mill configuration
Quote:
Note that I did not include a discreet GPU in the list of features for which I would pay $2499. I would prefer a discreet GPU, but I would much rather live with integrated Sandy Bridge graphics than have to lug around an optical brick.

Your willingness to part with your money is shocking. Basically you are saying to Apple build this machine and I'll pay whatever you want It doesn't matter if the value equation is screwed up you just say here's my money - take it.

Frankly I was in the Apple store three days ago and still find it shocking that people would pay so much for the 13" AIR. For what a screen that is just a hair bigger and a slightly fast processor. Apple is basically offering up the technology of an $800 laptop for a $1000 more. No I would be the first to admit there is value in Apples higher quality chassis and general build quality but that might be worth $500 not $1000.
post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

is that price really justified? To put it bluntly I'm getting a little tired of inflating Apples margins because I want a machine with additional capabilities over the base model. IPad here is the worst considering what they charge for more flash. However the thought is the same, there is nothing extra in that 13" AIR that justifies the huge increase in pricing.

Apple's prices are justified by the fact that millions of buyers are willing to pay Apple's prices. Nothing else could possibly justify any other price. Apple's cost of production is irrelevant, so long as it is below the market retail price.

Is it worth $1000 to me to reduce the weight of my laptop by 500 grams? Yes, absolutely worth it.
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post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Apple's prices are justified by the fact that millions of buyers are willing to pay Apple's prices. Nothing else could possibly justify any other price. Apple's cost of production is irrelevant, so long as it is below the market retail price.

Is it worth $1000 to me to reduce the weight of my laptop by 500 grams? Yes, absolutely worth it.

Sorry but I need more out of my $1000 than a slightly lighter laptop. I don't mind that Apple makes a reasonable profit but I do mind when the price on the upper end models is all out of proportion to the actual value of the added circuitry. Things like paying 200 dollars for a faster CPU when Intel only charges 25 to 50 dollars more is a little hard to take. Then we have Apple outlandish pricing on RAM.

Of course the reasonable thing to do for most Apple hardware is to buy the base machine and upgrade yourself. However with AIR you run into kinda of a brick wall trying to do that. The thing is one gets the feeling they are being taken advantage of with Apples pricing and that can lead to a simmering disgust with Apple in general.
post #28 of 33
@Wizard69

How likely is a 15" MacBook Air or is this thread pure speculation?

The more I read about such a machine, the more I want one. It would be perfect in so many ways. Perhaps Appleinsider (Caspar) can tell us whether there is a legitimate business case for this model?

Maybe this machine is actually the next generation MacBook Pro, but instead of being called an Air it will still be called the 15" MBP but dispense with the on-board DVD drive?

In the meantime, assuming that the 13" MBA gets a Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W), how will this compare to the 2009 13" MacBook Pro's 2.53 Ghz Core 2 Duo chip?
post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I don't mind that Apple makes a reasonable profit but I do mind when the price on the upper end models is all out of proportion to the actual value of the added circuitry. ... The thing is one gets the feeling they are being taken advantage of with Apples pricing and that can lead to a simmering disgust with Apple in general.

You must have a hell of a problem with software margins. Microsoft's profit margins are much higher than Apple's. Microsoft charges an arm and a leg and doesn't add any circuitry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

assuming that the 13" MBA gets a Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W)

The only way to put a 25W CPU in a 13" MacBook Air is to drop the discreet GPU.
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post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

How likely is a 15" MacBook Air

Not.

Quote:
or is this thread pure speculation?

Yep.
post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

The only way to put a 25W CPU in a 13" MacBook Air is to drop the discreet GPU.

Thanks for that. perhaps what I should have asked is what is the most likely top end processor for the SB 13" Air and how will that compare to a 2009 C2D 13 MBP?
post #32 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

How likely is a 15" MacBook Air

My guess is a 30% chance of a 15" MacBook Air in 2011.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

or is this thread pure speculation?

Of course it's speculation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

what is the most likely top end processor for the SB 13" Air?

With a discreet GPU: 2677M
Without a discreet GPU: 2649M

I have little idea how good the integrated graphics of the 2649M are at 1440x900, so I cannot evaluate which of the above makes more sense. My guess is that the new 13" MacBook Air will have a 2677M plus a discreet GPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

how will that compare to a 2009 C2D 13 MBP?

Faster, obviously. We'll have to wait for benchmarks to know how much faster.
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post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

@Wizard69

How likely is a 15" MacBook Air or is this thread pure speculation?

Seriously? Of course it is speculation. If I had inside information I'd open up my own web site.

Frankly it blows my mind that you would ask this question.
Quote:
The more I read about such a machine, the more I want one. It would be perfect in so many ways. Perhaps Appleinsider (Caspar) can tell us whether there is a legitimate business case for this model?

What in the hell does Casper know?

The business case is that there seems to be a strong appeal for such a machine in the community. One of the reasons I continue to talk about is because it would be a good idea in my mind. Apple would need to determine if such a machine is feasible and would attrack enough buyers to pursue.
Quote:
Maybe this machine is actually the next generation MacBook Pro, but instead of being called an Air it will still be called the 15" MBP but dispense with the on-board DVD drive?

How is it that you have become so confused??????? As far as anybody here knows this is not an Apple product. It is speculation about something many of us would like to see from Apple. How could you have missed this.
Quote:
In the meantime, assuming that the 13" MBA gets a Core i7-2649M (4M cache, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 2.30 GHz, 25W), how will this compare to the 2009 13" MacBook Pro's 2.53 Ghz Core 2 Duo chip?

It will likely be pretty good as long as you do nothing that is demanding of the GPU. Remember these processors are much faster than Core on a per clock basis. On top of that they can Turbo Boost some.

The big problem is that the GPUs suck on Intel processors. It will be a step backwards in this regards. Sadly a lot of people underestimate the importance of the GPU these days.
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