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MacBook Air's processor riddle solved

post #1 of 91
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Apple's new MacBook Air subnotebook raised eyebrows by using a mysterious new, ultra-compact Core 2 Duo processor. New research, however, reveals it to be a blend of old and new technology designed to make few sacrifices.

An in-depth study of the design by AnandTech founder Anand Lal Shimpi explains that the processor is actually based on Intel's 65 nanometer (65nm) Merom architecture with an 800MHz bus, first released in May of last year. All of Apple's current iMac, MacBook, and MacBook Pro models use some form of the processor at a higher clock speed.

But rather than struggle to fit the hot, standard-sized processor package into the tight confines of the Air's chassis -- a feat deemed impossible by Jobs during the computer's introduction -- Apple appears to have called on Intel to accelerate the release of an extra-small chip package not scheduled to arrive until the launch of the Montevina notebook platform in mid-2008.

"The MacBook Air uses the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor and Intel 965GMS chipset with integrated [graphics] using a new miniaturized package technology. This new CPU and chipset allows for approximately 60% reduction in total footprint," Intel explains in a response to the technology site.

The mixture of current and next-generation parts creates an unusual blend of performance characteristics. The new Core 2 Duo slots just above the Low Voltage (LV series) variants in terms of clock speed and power use -- starting at 1.6GHz with 20 watts of thermal design power versus 1.4GHz and 17 watts -- but is considerably more efficient than the regular mobile processor, which consumes 35 watts of peak power at a minimum 1.8GHz.



Apple may have been making "tradeoffs" to get the finished MacBook Air on the market in time, Lal Shimpi speculates.

As for the reason behind choosing the new variant instead of stock low or ultra-low voltage Core 2 models, the report suggests only that Apple's main concern was to avoid the low speeds of these chips while compromising as little as possible on energy efficiency or heat.

"Performance appears to be all but solved [for subnotebooks]," Lal Shimpi says. "The fact that Apple can cram a nearly-2GHz Core 2 Duo into the MacBook Air either means that Moore's law has caught up with our desires or Apple is going to make it so you can no longer have children."
post #2 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"The fact that Apple can cram a nearly-2GHz Core 2 Duo into the MacBook Air either means that Moore's law has caught up with our desires or Apple is going to make it so you can no longer have children.


OK... I guess I am going to hold off buying one until some of you guys test it out for a while...
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post #3 of 91
Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.
post #4 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post

Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.

dude! get over it!
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post #5 of 91
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Originally Posted by sennen View Post

dude! get over it!

Dude! No kids for you!!!
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #6 of 91
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Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

Dude! No kids for you!!!

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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GOA

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post #7 of 91
Hold up there Apple Insider. Anand is just speculating. There is some contradictory evidence on Apple's own developer page for the MacBook Air that suggests it may be a different chip.

"Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost accelerates data manipulation by applying a single instruction to multiple data at the same time, known as SIMD processing. SIMD technology accelerates vector math operations and floating-point calculations. Advanced Digital Media Boost supports Intel

Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) versions 1, 2, 3, and 4 and allows the processor to execute most 128-bit instructions every clock cycle.: As far I know, Merom doesn't have and can't have the SSE4 instruction code.
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post #8 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

Dude! No kids for you!!!









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post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Hold up there Apple Insider. Anand is just speculating. There is some contradictory evidence on Apple's own . . .

Good point. Someone has made a mistake somewhere.
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post #10 of 91
Can someone translate this into English for the lay user on the issues of whether it matters and if so, how (unless is it the usual inside-baseball tech b-s, which is what this AI news story sounds like)?

Thanks.

(Add: One more thing. What exactly was the 'riddle' here -- see headline -- and who was flummoxed by this riddle?)
post #11 of 91
so..... thats fascinating and all but when will they make a new computer that I will actually want?
post #12 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Can someone translate this into English for the lay user on the issues of whether it matters and if so, how (unless is it the usual inside-baseball tech b-s, which is what this AI news story sounds like)?

Thanks.

(Add: One more thing. What exactly was the 'riddle' here -- see headline -- and who was flummoxed by this riddle?)

It really doesn't matter. Intel have taken a standard chip on put it on a smaller circuit board. There are some technical issues but it doesn't matter a damn. The only thing that matters are the overall benchmarks, which we will need to wait a couple of weeks for. Don't hold your breath, they will be worse than the lowest spec MacBook.
post #13 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post

Good point. Someone has made a mistake somewhere.

Does this mean we can have children?
post #14 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuneman07 View Post

so..... thats fascinating and all but when will they make a new computer that I will actually want?

I wish they'd put out one I NEED so I can justify my WANTS
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post #15 of 91
who needs kids?

Click for reason to buy said ^^^ sperm killer.



gotta love banned commercials.
=]
post #16 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Don't hold your breath, they will be worse than the lowest spec MacBook.

what do you expect, considering the lower clock speed?! compared to it's direct competition, it will stack u pretty well.
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post #17 of 91
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Originally Posted by dontlookleft View Post

who needs kids?

Click for reason to buy said ^^^ sperm killer.



gotta love banned commercials.
=]

I love that commercial
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post #18 of 91
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Originally Posted by aiolos View Post

I love that commercial

Nice
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post #19 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post

Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.

And what gets more?
post #20 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"The fact that Apple can cram a nearly-2GHz Core 2 Duo into the MacBook Air either means that Moore's law has caught up with our desires or Apple is going to make it so you can no longer have children."

Maybe Apple should not be talking to China Mobile regarding the iPhone but the Chinese government about their one child per family population control law.

With a population of 1.3 Billion in China, the Chinese government can get two birds with one stone... population control and a nifty laptop. While Apple moves up the marketshare ladder a little more.\

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post #21 of 91
Both chips look IDENTICAL to me, the only difference being trivial (namely, the card where they are mounted). Is this pure and sheer marketing buzz? Shocking! I WAS EXPECTING 45 NM IN ANY CASE!!!
post #22 of 91
Pbbbbbbbht

The Macbook Air reminds me of an 80's band name.... Fad Gadget.
Put this one up there with the cube.
Looks cool, smells cool, no buyers.

Honestly, I got excited when I saw it... but let out a huge guffaw when Steve quickly announced the price before moving on. I'd buy one for sub $1000, but ffs, $1800 for slim
You would think that excluding all that useful stuff like cd player, ethernet, card reader, audio out, firewire, decent processor, decent video card, swappable battery, ram upgrades... this thing should be $800.
Glorified iPod. No wonder their stock took a dive.

I've not talked to or heard a single person say "OMG... I'm getting one".
Fad Gadget gang... nothing more then a fad gadget.
post #23 of 91
It's still a very fair clock speed given it's size, it's going to produce less heat also.
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post #24 of 91
I'm bored with the MBA, yes they should of put FW in it, its kinda of a Mac signature.

Roll on 10.5.2, I'm more excited about ...

BTW 3 kids and next one due in 4-5 weeks.
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Put this one up there with the cube.
Looks cool, smells cool, no buyers.

Boy, are you going to look dumb soon.
post #26 of 91
Why didn't they just throw in a ULV chip in there? The U7600 isn't slow at all, I've got one and I can do all the things that you'd be doing with the MBA. No one is going to be running games or editing video with this computer so why not get better battery life with a peppy ULV???
post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

It really doesn't matter. Intel have taken a standard chip on put it on a smaller circuit board. There are some technical issues but it doesn't matter a damn. The only thing that matters are the overall benchmarks, which we will need to wait a couple of weeks for. Don't hold your breath, they will be worse than the lowest spec MacBook.


Comparing MacBook Air to the MacBook is not a fair comparison. Its like comparing the MacBook to one of Dells 2inch thick desktop replacement laptops. That is not its competition. You need to compare its performance to other ultralight notebooks.
post #28 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

And what gets more?

The notebooks based on ULV chips can get 10+ hours in some cases, but that trades off speed, and is more expensive. Often you need to get the optional bigger battery to do that.
post #29 of 91
I'm dying to hear how hot this thing runs, no comments on that from the guys who were at the show?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

I'd buy one for sub $1000...

Wow, you don't really have any clue about the market for this kind of box. Take a look at other ultraportables. Comparable units are all at least as expensive.

Is it really so hard to understand that making something smaller is more expensive?

And the cube comparison is way tired...that was a huge mistake because nobody needs to make a desktop as small as possible. In a laptop, size and weight are huge selling points since you CARRY IT AROUND.
post #30 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontlookleft View Post

who needs kids?

Click for reason to buy said ^^^ sperm killer.



gotta love banned commercials.
=]

That's pretty sweet. Our first little one is coming any day now. Life certainly should get a lot more interesting...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

I've not talked to or heard a single person say "OMG... I'm getting one".
Fad Gadget gang... nothing more then a fad gadget.

I'm not sure it's a total fad gadget, but I've talked with a few people about it, and the story is pretty much the same: "nice machine, but I won't be buying one."

Quote:
Originally Posted by i386 View Post


BTW 3 kids and next one due in 4-5 weeks.

Congrats!
post #31 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuneman07 View Post

so..... thats fascinating and all but when will they make a new computer that I will actually want?

The Air is pretty cool. After playing around with one for an hour or so at Macworld I could definitely see myself using one.

The one thing that has been bothering me ever since I got the iPhone is Steve's vision of free wifi on every corner. It just isn't happening. With the Air having no cell card slot and no ethernet it is really dependent on abundant wifi. And by the way, the wifi networks and cell towers were so overloaded in SF during the show that no one was able to get on the web, not even at the Apple booth.

And of course every notebook user understands that if it is going to be used for travel, you're going to need the external usb ethernet adapter, the bluetooth mouse the power brick and maybe even a usb hub because you only get one usb port on the Air. Try to fit all that in an envelope.

m

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post #32 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

I'm dying to hear how hot this thing runs, no comments on that from the guys who were at the show?

Runs very cool. I put my hand on the bottom and it was barely warm under heavy use for hours.

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post #33 of 91
What's funny about the Cube and it's use as a comparison is that the Cube still lives in a slightly altered form. It's called the Mac Mini. The difference is that the Mac Mini doesn't seem quite as well made and costs less, but is even smaller.
post #34 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

(Responding to rain)
Wow, you don't really have any clue about the market for this kind of box. Take a look at other ultraportables. Comparable units are all at least as expensive.

Is it really so hard to understand that making something smaller is more expensive?

And the cube comparison is way tired...that was a huge mistake because nobody needs to make a desktop as small as possible. In a laptop, size and weight are huge selling points since you CARRY IT AROUND.

Smack.
post #35 of 91
Engadget blogged a Fujitsu Lifebook today. There sensationalist headline stated that it is lighter than the MacBook Air. The Lifebook has an 8.9" display, a 1.2GHz ULV Core Solo and mini-keyboard.

It escapes me how the the redeeming factors of the MBA are being so easily overlooked and how it can so easily be negatively compared to any ultra-portable. Did Jobs once call an ultra-portable?
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post #36 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyKrz View Post

What's funny about the Cube and it's use as a comparison is that the Cube still lives in a slightly altered form. It's called the Mac Mini. The difference is that the Mac Mini doesn't seem quite as well made and costs less, but is even smaller.

Amen!
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post #37 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Engadget blogged a Fujitsu Lifebook today. There sensationalist headline stated that it is lighter than the MacBook Air. The Lifebook has an 8.9" display, a 1.2GHz ULV Core Solo and mini-keyboard.

It escapes me how the the redeeming factors of the MBA are being so easily overlooked and how it can so easily be negatively compared to any ultra-portable. Did Jobs once call an ultra-portable?

I agree. LED backlight LCD, full-size illuminated keyboard, and gesture trackpad are not standard or BTO for others. So comparisons cannot be exact.
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post #38 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

The Air is pretty cool. After playing around with one for an hour or so at Macworld I could definitely see myself using one.

The one thing that has been bothering me ever since I got the iPhone is Steve's vision of free wifi on every corner. It just isn't happening. With the Air having no cell card slot and no ethernet it is really dependent on abundant wifi. And by the way, the wifi networks and cell towers were so overloaded in SF during the show that no one was able to get on the web, not even at the Apple booth.

And of course every notebook user understands that if it is going to be used for travel, you're going to need the external usb ethernet adapter, the bluetooth mouse the power brick and maybe even a usb hub because you only get one usb port on the Air. Try to fit all that in an envelope.

m

Not only that, but wifis that used to be free are rapidly being locked. Ever since people started getting charged with child pornography when some drive-by pervert used their wi-fi, people are a lot less likely to share. My office building used to have several open wireless networks (mostly named "linksys"), now it has none.

And none of the hotels I've stayed on business in the last few months have had wifi outside the common areas. The rooms still had a stupid ethernet port (across the room for the couch).

Instead of the Ethernet adapter, though, I would recommend carrying an Airport Express around. If the hotel doesn't supply you wireless, supply it yourself. This has the advantage, too, that you can then have your iPod Touch, laptop, and whatever else using the network simultaneously.
post #39 of 91
I think the bigger story (which everyone ignores) is Apple's ability to squeeze everything into a little board, which is smaller than any PC-on-a-board out there.

Imagine the next revision of iMac....it may well look like a regular display. LCD's are getting thinner and thinner too.

Or the next eMac (education mac):
20 inch LCD w/ iSight.
single USB for keyboard (then mouse).
no 1394.
Wifi (no Bluetooth).
no optical drive.

That will simplify the school labs so much, with a single power cord to plug-in (and keyboard and mouse), and that's it. Finally we go back to the simplicity of Mac 128K.
post #40 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Imagine the next revision of iMac....it may well look like a regular display. LCD's are getting thinner and thinner too.

The new iMacs are pretty damn thin. If not for the chin I wouldn't think they were complete systems.
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