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Production ramp of Apple's next-gen MacBooks creating labor shortages in China

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
Anticipated demand for Apple's redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company's Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker's production lines.

That's according to Taiwanese rumor publication DigiTimes, which added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the "strong orders from Apple" for the new notebooks, due "in the near future."

"Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry's traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple's new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand."


Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company's new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks' new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a 'possible launch' of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple's total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 -- a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

MacBook Lineup
An illustration of Apple's notebook lineup planned for the 2012 calendar year | Source AppleInsider.


No where in its report does the publication indicate whether its sources are referring to updated MacBook Airs or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

More details on Apple's plans for its 2012 notebooks can be found in AppleInsider's MacBook Air and MacBook Pro information archives.
post #2 of 54

I'm sure the analysts are bound to turn this into bad news for Apple.  They'll saw how Apple is suffering from shortages instead of focusing on increased production.  800,000 more MacBooks per quarter is a healthy increase.

post #3 of 54

Labor shortages in China? WTF! Yeah, it must be hard to find enough people in China to get things made.

post #4 of 54

This is Digitimes covering their butts so that when there's no hardware announced at WWDC they can say it was the shortages causing Apple to have to delay the launch. 

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post #5 of 54

I heard they will merge the Air and the Pro into a single line on Macbook's with screen size ranging from 10 to 17 inch. I wonder were those rumors are coming from.  Anyone read something about it?

 

I hope they new Macbooks's come out soon, I have a buyer for my 15" MBP and he needs it before the end of june.

post #6 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

This is Digitimes covering their butts so that when there's no hardware announced at WWDC they can say it was the shortages causing Apple to have to delay the launch. 

 

And how can you discern this from the case that Digi Times was right all along, i.e Apple did plan to announced at the WWDC and the shortages prevented them?

post #7 of 54

DigiTimes.

 

Why is this still happening?

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post #8 of 54

Yes they have the worst track record, but the only things they do get right are in this area.  Their rumors and rumor analysis are useless.  Actual facts about labor on the ground is a different data point.  Ignore any numbers and assumptions and assume something big is coming out of China soon.  This would be par for the course with Digi times.  New "data" about old news.  

post #9 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

That's according to Taiwanese rumor publication DigitTimes.

Hello AI, is that DigitTimes or DigiTimes?  I don't think adding an extra t will make DigiTimes anymore credible.   

post #10 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

Hello AI, is that DigitTimes or DigiTimes?  I don't think adding an extra t will make DigiTimes anymore credible.   


I dunno, as long as it's the middle one, it still fits..lol.gif

post #11 of 54
anything that digitimes reports, that is reported by appleinsider, is a almost a neo-godwins law LOL ;. thus the thread is over before it has started ... meaning fiction...
post #12 of 54
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Originally Posted by haar View Post
…thus the thread is over before it has started…

 

DigiTimes may lie about everything Apple, but they do seem to own the world's last remaining stock of thiotimoline.

Originally Posted by Marvin

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #13 of 54
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Originally Posted by silicon1138 View Post

Labor shortages in China? WTF! Yeah, it must be hard to find enough people in China to get things made.

Actually, spot labor shortages have been appearing in China for a couple of years. Some companies have been moving out of the denser manufacturing areas in order to find new labor pools. And I hope you don't think that Foxconn has been increasing wages out of the goodness of their heart.

It's the same thing that happened in Japan 40 years ago. They started out as being a cheap manufacturer due to very low labor rates. As they reached full employment, wages increased and employee benefits improved - to the point that Japan stopped being a low cost manufacturer at some point. No reason to think that the same thing won't eventually happen in China.
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post #14 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Actually, spot labor shortages have been appearing in China for a couple of years. Some companies have been moving out of the denser manufacturing areas in order to find new labor pools. And I hope you don't think that Foxconn has been increasing wages out of the goodness of their heart.
It's the same thing that happened in Japan 40 years ago. They started out as being a cheap manufacturer due to very low labor rates. As they reached full employment, wages increased and employee benefits improved - to the point that Japan stopped being a low cost manufacturer at some point. No reason to think that the same thing won't eventually happen in China.

That is the cycle of countless nations. The only difference here is that China is so vast in natural resources, labor and land that they will likely far exceed anything we've ever seen.

Their GDP is still about half that of the US but I think it's likely only a decade before they are number one. Look at Apple's growth and momentum when they first exceeded MS' i revenue and profit. Long before it happened we knew it would and we knew it was going to move past it quickly once it did.


PS: Where can I take Mandarin lessons?

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post #15 of 54

Theres so many people in China looking for work that there's never a labor shortage. It may be that Foxcon needs to hire more people but that comes with increased sales. Too bad that some of those jobs aren't in the U.S.

Bottom Line: people will get hired.  Wait till production starts ramping up for the Iphone 5, Chinas economy will ramp up also.

post #16 of 54

In the early 1950s, I'm told, half the industrial production of the world took place in the nine U.S. states that surround the Great Lakes. Now we refer to that region as our Rust Belt, with Detroit having a city population only half what it had then. That's the bad news.

 

And yes, it is true, as some have noted, that there's a cycle of rising wages/costs that tend to overprice a country's manufactured goods, allowing other countries to move into the gap. We lost our consumer electronics industry to Japan and Japan has lost theirs to Taiwan and China. But it's also possible for countries to adapt, using automation, a stress on quality, and design/engineering skill to compensate for higher labor costs. That's what Germany has done. It also helps if an industry isn't consumed by internal clashes that create blundering, risk-adverse executives and workers indoctrinated by their unions to whine, complain and demand. In that respect, workers in our southern states seemed to have learned something from the blunders of their counterparts in the Rust Belt north. 

 

Fortunately, automobile manufacturing is no longer what it was in Henry Ford's day, mindless workers tightening one bolt for eight hours a day. If you've got the sort of skills necessary to work in a modern automated factory, no employer with any sense will treat you badly. He has too much invested in your training. And if you have that sort of power, you don't need union stewards whispering in your ear, trying to justify their existence by making you hate your boss. That's why attempts to unionize southern auto factories are failing.

 

The U.S. is large enough and diverse enough that failure in one region doesn't mean failure in another. That's the good news. Only time will tell which path China will take.

post #17 of 54
Such a pity it's not "Production ramp of Apple's next-gen MacBooks creating labor shortages in Texas". Or similar.
post #18 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post
Such a pity it's not "Production ramp of Apple's next-gen MacBooks creating labor shortages in Texas". Or similar.

 

Such a pity that people who say this have no idea how this stuff actually works.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #19 of 54
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Such a pity that people who say this have no idea how this stuff actually works.

Such a pity this place is infested with people who have to make personal attacks.
post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post
Such a pity this place is infested with people who have to make personal attacks.

 

I know, right? Fortunately neither of us stoop to that level.

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The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #21 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post

Such a pity this place is infested with people who have to make personal attacks.

How is that a personal attack? Your comment clearly indicates that you don't understand what would be involved in having every single aspect of Apple's products designed and made in the US. In fact, it's impossible without having to reinvent many aspects and using inferior variants at much higher costs due to components and licenses from companies that reside outside the US that would need to be circumvented.

Then you have the issue of even having a factory whose building and equipment will be built with products from all around the world. But you're not caring about all that, are you? You just want the actual assembly to be in the US without regard for anything else to satisfy your myopic and cliched commentary.

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post #22 of 54
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
No where in its report does the publication indicate whether its sources are referring to updated MacBook Airs or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros [...]

 

Could be a next-gen Mac mini that replaces the Mac Pro.  Instead of a single large enclosure full of processors, memory, HDDs, and SDDs like the Mac Pro, Apple could ship a Mac mini with total Thunderbolt connectivity.  Just connect 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 of them together and you get a supercomputer.  Grand Central Dispatch could be modified to take advantage of Thunderbolt's ultra-high-speed transfer rates et voila.

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post #23 of 54
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Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post
Just connect 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 of them together and you get a supercomputer.  Grand Central Dispatch could be modified to take advantage of Thunderbolt's ultra-high-speed transfer rates et voila.


BOMBSHELL at WWDC: GCD modified to handle fully distributed computing over Thunderbolt.

 

That'll move units. That'll move units out the wazoo.

 

Have a room full of (current Mac Pro design) successors, and then they're plugged into an iMac as an interface terminal. For smaller operations, a room full of Mac Mini with the same…

 

And call it Apple Galaxy, with the computers being 'stars' in the metaphor.

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The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #24 of 54
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


BOMBSHELL at WWDC: GCD modified to handle fully distributed computing over Thunderbolt.

That'll move units. That'll move units out the wazoo.

Have a room full of (current Mac Pro design) successors, and then they're plugged into an iMac as an interface terminal. For smaller operations, a room full of Mac Mini with the same…

And call it Apple Galaxy, with the computers being 'stars' in the metaphor.

It would be great if we saw Thunderbolt "boxes" that had PCIe slots in there that could take HDD/SSDs, GPUs, cards for additional ports, and whatnot and put them in as you see fit. For HDDs and standard SSDs you'd have a sled that would do the PCIe to SATA III conversion.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #25 of 54

Nice to hear rumors about Apple refreshing its pipeline.  I'm going to be in the market for a new MacBook and would like to see an update this summer.  

 

I'm not in the market for a Mac Pro, but it would sure be interesting to see why Apple has delayed a refresh for those systems.  My company buys those literally by the truck load for its creative departments.

post #26 of 54
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Originally Posted by MacTel View Post
I'm not in the market for a Mac Pro, but it would sure be interesting to see why Apple has delayed a refresh for those systems.

 

Because there has been no delay. The chips for it just came out.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #27 of 54

Normally Digitimes will have something I am remotely interested in. This story just seems way off base even for them.

post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

DigiTimes.

Why is this still happening?

I sent the last article writer an email begging that they stop reporting on Digitimes.

Is there a publishing term for "filler"? Digitimes might be generously considered roughage as far as news sources go.
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

And call it Apple Galaxy, with the computers being 'stars' in the metaphor.

You're mixing your metaphors. It would be an Apple Orchard with the computers being the pips.

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post #30 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by silicon1138 View Post

Labor shortages in China? WTF! Yeah, it must be hard to find enough people in China to get things made.

RIM can send them 10,000 experienced Canadians. I can hear it now: Mandarin spoken with a heavy Canuck accent. Eh?

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post #31 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

 

Could be a next-gen Mac mini that replaces the Mac Pro.  Instead of a single large enclosure full of processors, memory, HDDs, and SDDs like the Mac Pro, Apple could ship a Mac mini with total Thunderbolt connectivity.  Just connect 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 of them together and you get a supercomputer.  Grand Central Dispatch could be modified to take advantage of Thunderbolt's ultra-high-speed transfer rates et voila.

I don't believe high performance computing clusters typically use a PCI bridge as an interconnect. This probably sounded like a good idea to you and others, but I have yet to see to see it suggested by anyone with even remote knowledge of engineering. The other issue is that no one has really pointed out how such a thing could be set up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


BOMBSHELL at WWDC: GCD modified to handle fully distributed computing over Thunderbolt.

 

That'll move units. That'll move units out the wazoo.

 

Have a room full of (current Mac Pro design) successors, and then they're plugged into an iMac as an interface terminal. For smaller operations, a room full of Mac Mini with the same…

 

And call it Apple Galaxy, with the computers being 'stars' in the metaphor.

I am guessing this is a joke? It's really silly how no one considers logistics such as the case for using a cluster vs a single workstation. Does thunderbolt support zero copy protocols? Will we see thunderbolt switches? Does GCD support a PCI bridge interconnect? Does it have some method of failover support? Have they started on thunderbolt switches? You'd need some kind of switch for issues like traffic shaping to deal with multiple IO requests. Details seem to be ignored.

post #32 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It would be great if we saw Thunderbolt "boxes" that had PCIe slots in there that could take HDD/SSDs, GPUs, cards for additional ports, and whatnot and put them in as you see fit. For HDDs and standard SSDs you'd have a sled that would do the PCIe to SATA III conversion.

Sonnet sells those:
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpresschassis.html
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post #33 of 54
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Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Sonnet sells those:
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpresschassis.html

That device will make the iMac practical for even more Mac Pro users.

I can picture a day, however, when Pro users have an iMac with lots of boxes lying around with their storage, video cards, audio cards, etc. Cables everywhere and a messy situation. Then Apple 'saves the day' by creating a tower that allows them to incorporate all those external devices internally. lol.gif
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post #34 of 54
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Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


That device will make the iMac practical for even more Mac Pro users.
I can picture a day, however, when Pro users have an iMac with lots of boxes lying around with their storage, video cards, audio cards, etc. Cables everywhere and a messy situation. Then Apple 'saves the day' by creating a tower that allows them to incorporate all those external devices internally. lol.gif

That was actually pretty funny. The $800 one has a 150W power supply, so it will run some things, not everything. It's still a lot of money for a less than ideal solution, but Sonnet in my experience isn't too bad. They jump on a lot of stuff early, but you pay for it. I guess it could be worth it for some people. I kind of wonder how many will buy it for an imac as opposed to a macbook pro.

post #35 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Sonnet sells those:
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpresschassis.html

Excellent! That is what I have been expecting to see, with the caveat that they could hold 4 or 6 double-width cards... but it's still early in Thunderbolt's history. It's only been a year since it was released to the world and even then it was exclusive to Apple.

It is interesting that the Sonnet equipment doesn't show any Windows compatibility. I was expecting to see more Win OEMs taking to Thunderbolt later this year but I'm not seeing any promises from vendors. I'm hope I'm just missing them like I missed this Sonnet tech.


PS: Can you install a GPU use it to play games with the display being built into a MBA or will you need an external display directly attached to the GPU ports to take advantage of it? If the latter, does that mean the Thunderbolt daisy-chain will not work with the Apple Thunderbolt Display because GPU cards aren't yet made to work that way?

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post #36 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Excellent! That is what I have been expecting to see, with the caveat that they could hold 4 or 6 double-width cards... but it's still early in Thunderbolt's history. It's only been a year since it was released to the world and even then it was exclusive to Apple.
It is interesting that the Sonnet equipment doesn't show any Windows compatibility. I was expecting to see more Win OEMs taking to Thunderbolt later this year but I'm not seeing any promises from vendors. I'm hope I'm just missing them like I missed this Sonnet tech.

I also don't understand that it's Mac only. Hopefully it will be adopted by Wintel, whoops, Windows as well, soon, otherwise I think it will go down like FireWire.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

PS: Can you install a GPU use it to play games with the display being built into a MBA or will you need an external display directly attached to the GPU ports to take advantage of it? If the latter, does that mean the Thunderbolt daisy-chain will not work with the Apple Thunderbolt Display because GPU cards aren't yet made to work that way?

I don't know if that is up to this expansion box, rather than MBA/OSX allowing a video input (from TB to internal screen) which I don't believe it does. Although after another gander at that marketing pic from their site it looks like you can indeed enjoy the better video card capability on a MB(A).

As to your 2nd question, the box seems to only have 2 TB ports, ie the ports on the cards you install are non user accessible. Can't find a picture of the back though, or any explanation/details.
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post #37 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post
I also don't understand that it's Mac only. Hopefully it will be adopted by Wintel, whoops, Windows as well, soon, otherwise I think it will go down like FireWire.

 

It isn't Mac-only. If Intel cares at all about it, they'll force it onto all their motherboards and Windows machines will have to have it. Provided Intel actually cares about this tech they've created, don't worry about adoption.

 

Remember what happened the last time Apple and Intel backed adoption of a port? USB happened.

Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #38 of 54
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Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Hopefully it will be adopted by Wintel, whoops, Windows as well, soon, otherwise I think it will go down like FireWire.

There seems to be a decent amount of Thunderbolt support from various logic board makers but I still see no direct support in Windows. As for Thunderbolt going down like FW I think that will be tough because unlike FW and like USB Intel is supporting it in their chipsets. It'll be hard to ignore. The big issue is the cost of the equipment but knowing I can buy a box and then use it with some other notebook later on does give me some expansion options that xMac users seem to want.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #39 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

I also don't understand that it's Mac only. Hopefully it will be adopted by Wintel, whoops, Windows as well, soon, otherwise I think it will go down like FireWire.

Do you know any Windows systems with Thunderbolt?

When they start to appear on the market, Sonnet will probably support them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post

That was actually pretty funny. The $800 one has a 150W power supply, so it will run some things, not everything. It's still a lot of money for a less than ideal solution, but Sonnet in my experience isn't too bad. They jump on a lot of stuff early, but you pay for it. I guess it could be worth it for some people. I kind of wonder how many will buy it for an imac as opposed to a macbook pro.

That's the point. No one ever said it would work for EVERYONE. But as time goes on and the iMac becomes more powerful, and as Thunderbolt catches on, and as Thunderbolt adapters do more, the number of people who needs a Mac Pro declines.

As for the MB Pro, that's another option - and essentially equivalent. It doesn't really matter if you're choosing an MBP or an iMac. Thunderbolt adds dramatically to the capability of the system.
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post #40 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

As for Thunderbolt going down like FW I think that will be tough because unlike FW and like USB Intel is supporting it in their chipsets.

That certainly is a valid statement that I haven't thought through - thanks. Although I don't use Windows at all, I bound to be confronted with it at my next job and possibly will like the coherence if available. (if that's the right word)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Do you know any Windows systems with Thunderbolt?

I saw a Lenovo laptop with TB support:
http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/5/2683261/lenovo-thinkpad-edge-s430-is-the-first-windows-laptop-with-intels
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