MacBook Air's processor riddle solved

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 90
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 2,006member
    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...
  • Reply 2 of 90
    Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.
  • Reply 3 of 90
    sennensennen Posts: 1,472member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post


    Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.



    dude! get over it!
  • Reply 4 of 90
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,605member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sennen View Post


    dude! get over it!



    Dude! No kids for you!!!
  • Reply 5 of 90
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Dude! No kids for you!!!



  • Reply 6 of 90
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 90
    sennensennen Posts: 1,472member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Dude! No kids for you!!!



















  • Reply 8 of 90
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 90
    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?)
  • Reply 10 of 90
    so..... thats fascinating and all but when will they make a new computer that I will actually want?
  • Reply 11 of 90
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 90
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    Good point. Someone has made a mistake somewhere.



    Does this mean we can have children?
  • Reply 13 of 90
    msnlymsnly Posts: 378member
    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
  • Reply 14 of 90
    who needs kids?



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







    gotta love banned commercials.

    =]
  • Reply 15 of 90
    sennensennen Posts: 1,472member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 90
    aiolosaiolos Posts: 228member
    Quote:
    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
  • Reply 17 of 90
    msnlymsnly Posts: 378member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aiolos View Post


    I love that commercial



    Nice
  • Reply 18 of 90
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post


    Dude! Still only 5 hours of battery life.



    And what gets more?
  • Reply 19 of 90
    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.\
  • Reply 20 of 90
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    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!!!
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