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Apple's MacBook Air refresh may boost RAM, SSD specs

post #1 of 88
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Apple's forthcoming refresh to its MacBook Air line may up the value proposition for customers through increases to the notebook's standard memory and storage components, in addition to the latest ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge mobile chips, should checks within the company's supply chain prove accurate.

In a communication to AppleInsider on Thursday, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his industry checks suggest Apple is no longer placing orders MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM. Instead, those checks indicate that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will include 4GB of RAM as standard, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion, also due to ship on each model.

Similarly, Kuo cited the same checks in suggesting that Airs with just 64GB solid-state-drives may go away in favor of Apple shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard, given that the bulk of Apple's shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. Contrary to some reports, however, the analyst and proven insider said his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won't be soldered to the logic board.

In terms of which Sandy Bridge CPUs Apple has chosen for the Air, Kuo pointed to three specific Intel ultra-low-voltage chips (comparison chart) that launched just last month as prime candidates based on his checks: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). Each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.

While, AppleInsider cannot corroborate all of the aforementioned details, it relays the information given that Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple's future hardware designs. For instance, he was the first to accurately predicted the launch of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air and iPod touch with camera last year, and this year followed up with accurate specifications for the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 production, among other products.

For its part, AppleInsider has reported that the new Airs would mark the adoption of Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt ports, as well as the return of backlit keyboards. It however warned on multiple occasions not to expect (1 ,2) the new Macs this week, despite continuous unsubstantiated claims published elsewhere on the web that have ultimately proven to be grossly inaccurate and overhyped.

Instead, Apple has been waiting for the release of Mac OS X Lion before issuing any new Mac hardware updates. As reported last month and reiterated this month, those updates will follow the launch of Mac OS X Lion in the coming weeks. Although Apple is believed to have had some ambitions of launching Lion this week, at least one person familiar with the matter said earlier in the week that last minute concerns with one of the system's new features (app Resumes) would likely cause a minor delay.



Meanwhile, Kuo in a report released this week confirmed a recent claim from AppleInsider regarding the return of backlit keyboards to the MacBook Air, saying Darfon will be "the sole source" supplying those components to Apple.

"We think Macbook Air is becoming more and more important for Apple and other notebook brand vendors will follow Apple's move (Intel called it Ultrabook)," he said. "Like iPhone and touch panel's story, Apple is redefining the notebook and we believe other brand vendors will follow Apple's design requirements so some components will benefit a lot from the trend such as metal casing, SSD, thermal module, slim hinge and backlight keyboard."

The redesigned MacBook Air launched last October with a thinner and lighter design and a new 11.6-inch model with a $999 entry level price. The major changes, including the adoption of only solid-state flash hard drives, took the MacBook Air from being a relatively niche product in Apple's lineup to one of its hottest selling Macs.

In particular, the sub-$1,000 11.6-inch MacBook Air was said to be a major hit with consumers for both its price and lightweight design. In the first quarter of availability at the end of 2010, Apple shipped more than a million of the new MacBook Airs, making it one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.
post #2 of 88
OMG. I want one now, if they offer the i7 and 256GB of storage. Losing the GeForce 320M kinda sucks, but the 4GB of RAM, if true, is the thing that would push me to upgrade.

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post #3 of 88
Lion needs 4GB.
post #4 of 88
The big question is how will prices change with this. The C2D is a dirt cheap chip and I'd wager Apple is making quite the profit on each MBA. I mean, it's Apple, we all know they make bank on everything they sell If they can bump to 128/256GB SSD and 4GB RAM w/i5 and i7 processors w/o changing their price points, that will be very nice indeed
post #5 of 88
It doesn't take genius to figure out that Apple are moving to 4GB minimum for all new Macs and that 64GB is not very useable.
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post #6 of 88
11.6 screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD at $1,299 if they maintain current price points. I would love to take this baby home !!!
post #7 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

11.6 screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD at $1,299 if they maintain current price points. I would love to take this baby home !!!

I don't think we'll see an 8GB option for the MacBook Air this year, but I could be wrong.
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post #8 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I don't think we'll see an 8GB option for the MacBook Air this year, but I could be wrong.

I hope you are wrong. RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.
post #9 of 88
It would be really awesome if a 256GB option was available on the 11-inch. I can fit everything onto 128, but realistically my storage space would be somewhere between 128 and 256. That's the one thing I've been thinking about in preparation for my first Air.
post #10 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by igazza View Post

Lion needs 4GB.

I show 2GB of ram to be the requirement. I'm sure it runs better on 4, and probably even better with 8, but it only needs 2GB.

Likewise, if Lion runs poorly on 2GB, there are going to be many many Mac Users, including myself, that are very upset. I am not at all interested in upgrading my Ram, so hopefully this won't be the case.
post #11 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

>Won't see 8GB option
RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.

Not sure it's a matter of price so much as space and power usage. The Air already needs some help in the battery life dept, and adding 8Gb to it will not help.
post #12 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

I hope you are wrong. RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.

Going from 2GB to 4GB at the base price is already passing on the savings to us. If you really need 8GB, either wait for the 2012 models (at which time I expect 8GB to be a BTO option for the MacBook Air) or get a MacBook or MacBook Pro.
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post #13 of 88
I'm due for a refresh but can't live with the low res on the 13.3 screen. I wish they put a higher pixel density panel in the higher end MBA...
post #14 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

It doesn't take genius to figure out that Apple are moving to 4GB minimum for all new Macs and that 64GB is not very useable.

64GB is very usable if you don't do media work.
post #15 of 88
128GB SSD at a minimum would make me very happy.

4GB of RAM standard would also make me happy.

Thunderbolt would make me go bonkers!
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post #16 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Not sure it's a matter of price so much as space and power usage. The Air already needs some help in the battery life dept, and adding 8Gb to it will not help.

And how did you come to the conclusion that the Air needs help in the battery department? From personal use? My late 2010 MBA goes and entire day (8+ hours) at the office on a single charge. Do you own one? I'd like to see a Window's-only laptop go that long.

Now, if you were implying that you want the MBA to go 24+ hours on a single charge, well then of course I, along with everyone else, would love to see that but perhaps you're setting the bar a wee-bit too hight at the moment?
post #17 of 88
Apple offering a 13.3 MBA with i7, anti glare display, 256 SSD and capable of handling 8GB of RAM would be hard to resist.
post #18 of 88
Ultrabooks should be 400 to 600 g and as pocketable as possible (7-inch or so).
post #19 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

64GB is very usable if you don't do media work.

I don't do media work -- unless you count text with an occasional picture as media. There is no way I could work on a 64GB system with 10.6 Snow Leopard.
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post #20 of 88
Up next we have one 13.3" Late 2010 Macbook Air for sale with 4GB RAM and a 128GB hard drive. We're looking for a starting bid at $1200.

...

Any takers? Anyone? Anyone at all? Please?!
\
post #21 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

128GB SSD at a minimum would make me very happy.

4GB of RAM standard would also make me happy.

Thunderbolt would make me go bonkers!

In that case, I expect 2011 to be the year in which you get exactly what you want from the MacBook Air.
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post #22 of 88
The 4GB of RAM will make a lot of people happy. I am most interested in seeing how much the like Air the next-gen MBP is.
post #23 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's forthcoming refresh to its MacBook Air line may up the value proposition for...

I dont mean to be off-topic but who talks about upping the value proposition? Biz-weasels, maybe? I mean, a boost in specs may make Apples product more enticing, sure. But the upping of value propositions is something I want no part of. Corporate jargon is, I guess, a pet peeve. Were still best friends though.

Back to the show.
post #24 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Going from 2GB to 4GB at the base price is already passing on the savings to us. If you really need 8GB, either wait for the 2012 models (at which time I expect 8GB to be a BTO option for the MacBook Air) or get a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

The question is why should Apple not offer a BTO option? It sure adds extra revenue and from all their past pricing, even increases the overall margin.
post #25 of 88
I hope the 8GB RAM option is true, but as far as the ULV processors, go, I still don't understand why everyone thinks Apple will use the ULV processors. Since the GPU in now bundled with the CPU, and the power usage of those combined chips is 17W, I don't understand why they need to use them as the current MBA's use a 17W CPU + separate 10W GPU. That's 27W. Therefore Apple should be able to use LV processors, which are 25W. Am I missing something here because I don't see why Apple needs to drop performance to the ULV processors when the LV processors are in the same thermal design arena as what the current models employ. Maybe the ULV's processors can be used on the 11 inch, which has had complaints about the battery life, but the 13" is more than capable of handling the LV processors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Not sure it's a matter of price so much as space and power usage. The Air already needs some help in the battery life dept, and adding 8Gb to it will not help.

Space? I was under the impression RAM modules were a given size, and the density of the RAM on it was the difference. Also, how does more RAM = more power usage? You either access the RAM or you don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Going from 2GB to 4GB at the base price is already passing on the savings to us. If you really need 8GB, either wait for the 2012 models (at which time I expect 8GB to be a BTO option for the MacBook Air) or get a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Apply generally always provides a BTO RAM upgrade, so if they change the base amount to 4GB as this article implies, I would expect an 8GB option.
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post #26 of 88
I'm seriously considering selling my 2.4ghz C2D MBP for this. If it is available with 256gb HD and 8 GB - that would seal the deal.
post #27 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I don't do media work -- unless you count text with an occasional picture as media. There is no way I could work on a 64GB system with 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard wouldn't even use up half that space. If you don't have media files, why isn't the remaining 30GBs or so big enough for you?
post #28 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

Ultrabooks should be 400 to 600 g and as pocketable as possible (7-inch or so).

How useful would that be? A 7" laptop? What work would you be able to do on it?

There's no market for that, especially with a desktop OS. Just get an iPad.
post #29 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

The question is why should Apple not offer a BTO option? It sure adds extra revenue and from all their past pricing, even increases the overall margin.

It would be expensive to offer an 8GB BTO option for the MacBook Air (whether anyone ordered it or not) and not many customers would choose it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

I was under the impression RAM modules were a given size, and the density of the RAM on it was the difference.

There are no RAM modules (SO-DIMMs) in a MacBook Air. The DRAM chips are soldered directly to the motherboard. To go from 4GB to 8GB requires either using denser chips (which are currently insanely expensive) or using twice as many of them (for which there is no space).

Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

Also, how does more RAM = more power usage? You either access the RAM or you don't.

DRAM uses power whenever the machine is powered on, whether the CPU is in use or idle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

Apply generally always provides a BTO RAM upgrade, so if they change the base amount to 4GB as this article implies, I would expect an 8GB option.

No, when I bought my MacBook Air, Apple did not offer a BTO for more RAM; it was 2GB minimum and maximum. I believe that was true for Revs A, B, and C. I believe only the Rev D MacBook Air models have offered a BTO option for more RAM (4GB rather than the standard 2GB).
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post #30 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Snow Leopard wouldn't even use up half that space. If you don't have media files, why isn't the remaining 30GBs or so big enough for you?

Especially considering Thunderbolt will allow you to use an external drive when at work or at home that runs just as fast as if it were inside the case.
post #31 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Snow Leopard wouldn't even use up half that space. If you don't have media files, why isn't the remaining 30GBs or so big enough for you?

I have a 15" MacBook Pro with the 128GB option. With no movies and no music, I have 14GB free.
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post #32 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I have a 15" MacBook Pro with the 128GB option. With no movies and no music, I have 14GB free.

Then you must have a lot of apps. SL itself is only about 10 GB.
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post #33 of 88
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Originally Posted by rkdiddy View Post

I'm seriously considering selling my 2.4ghz C2D MBP for this. If it is available with 256gb HD and 8 GB - that would seal the deal.

I have a 2010 aluminum 2.0Ghz MacBook that I am giving away to a friend after I buy this new MBA.
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post #34 of 88
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Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Then you must have a lot of apps. SL itself is only about 10 GB.

I don't have a "lot of apps". If you subtract my iTunes folder, I am using about 90GB. The largest set of files I have on disk is my iPhoto library at 16GB.

I have no idea how someone would get by with only 64GB. You'd have to only email and web browse.
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post #35 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

There are no RAM modules (SO-DIMMs) in a MacBook Air. The DRAM chips are soldered directly to the motherboard. To go from 4GB to 8GB requires either using denser chips (which are currently insanely expensive) or using twice as many of them (for which there is no space).


DRAM uses power whenever the machine is powered on, whether the CPU is in use or idle.


No, when I bought my MacBook Air, Apple did not offer a BTO for more RAM; it was 2GB minimum and maximum. I believe that was true for Revs A, B, and C. I believe only the Rev D MacBook Air models have offered a BTO option for more RAM (4GB rather than the standard 2GB).

Ah. Didn't realize that. How expensive is insanely expensive? (just out of curiousity)

Ok, then I guess it would affect battery life, but that would only be with customers who would order 8GB, which probably wouldn't be too many ppl (excluding the average AI poster though, I suspect they're more likely than most to add the extra RAM).

I guess you're right, forgot that it wasn't a BTO. I only recently started considering getting a MBA (in the last year), so they've always had that option since I started paying close attention. :P
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post #36 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcorban View Post

I have a 2010 aluminum 2.0Ghz MacBook that I am giving away to a friend after I buy this new MBA.

Hey dcorban, wanna be my friend? Seriously - very nice of you.

I'd never buy a laptop with an 11" screen. Much as I LOVE the 13" air I think I am giving up on laptops. I am planning on exchanging my 13" MBP (which I use with a 24" monitor) for a Mini and an iPad. I can do my heavy lifting at work and still do all my email and admin on the move.
post #37 of 88
I got da money honey!
post #38 of 88
. . .
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post #39 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianlfl View Post

I'm due for a refresh but can't live with the low res on the 13.3 screen. I wish they put a higher pixel density panel in the higher end MBA...

What display do you current use with a substantially lower dot pitch.
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post #40 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

I hope the 8GB RAM option is true, but as far as the ULV processors, go, I still don't understand why everyone thinks Apple will use the ULV processors. Since the GPU in now bundled with the CPU, and the power usage of those combined chips is 17W, I don't understand why they need to use them as the current MBA's use a 17W CPU + separate 10W GPU. That's 27W. Therefore Apple should be able to use LV processors, which are 25W. Am I missing something here because I don't see why Apple needs to drop performance to the ULV processors when the LV processors are in the same thermal design arena as what the current models employ. Maybe the ULV's processors can be used on the 11 inch, which has had complaints about the battery life, but the 13" is more than capable of handling the LV processors.

I believe battery life is something apple values more than power. The battery difference between a 17w and 25w is quite significant where as performance is not, for what the macbook air is made to do (business/multimedia oriented not gaming nor video editing). judging from the other reviews of what the HD3000 is capable of, personally i am willing to sacrifice the 320m for extra hour of juice. Also for the second gen's i7 25w, you will be using more juice because base freq is 2.1ghz(tb 3ghz) instead of 1.6ghz(tb 2.7ghz) , and also base freq for the HD3000 is 500mhz (tb1.1ghz) instead of 350mhz (tb1.2ghz).

The problem with the first gen macbooks was throttling, this is because the CPU got too hot due to bad cooling. By using a 25w design there is a big chance that will happen, decreasing your performance output. So overall there really is no big gain by using a 25w design.



Quote:
Space? I was under the impression RAM modules were a given size, and the density of the RAM on it was the difference. Also, how does more RAM = more power usage? You either access the RAM or you don't.

NO more ram does not decrease your battery life, unless you upgrade to a difference set that specifically draws more power. ram is similar to SSD. it either draws a certain amt of power or its at idle drawing another certain amt. unlike HDD slower it spins the less power it draws vice versa.
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