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View Full Version : WWDC or bust for Premium Mobility Macs - What do today's updates indicate? Major Rev?




Jobsian
Apr 13, 2010, 01:36 PM
The 13" MBP update today was terribly anemic and of course, no MBA update at all.

Conclusion: Excruciatingly disappointing day for premium mobile notebook users who've been waiting and waiting.

Then we ask why? Is it really a technical issue with cooling/lack of space to fit in the required modules on Apple's 13" PCBs? While this is a current restriction, I simply refuse to believe this was beyond Apple. Just look at the hulking specs of the MBA-weighted Vaio Z, it torches every other 13" and even bigger notebooks to ashes. Apple simply didn't bother at this stage. Which leads to the next question:

Why didn't they bother?
I have two theories, one unpalatable and one exciting:

A) For the portable market, they don't want to shift too much focus away from the iPad with a stunning new MBA/13"MBP. The App store is Apple's neverending pot of gold and they want maximum focus on their two flagship devices utilizing it including the iPad.

For consumers like myself who want a top premium portable/ultraportable, the App store may unfortunately become the catalyst that buries our own wishes and in lieu is the cancerous behemoth continuously yielding profit upon profit. Apple, like any other corporation, always prioritises profit anyway (despite any noble declarations otherwise), however never before will this have seemed more apparent. Seeing Apple giving their iPad unprecedented priority with such an enormous focus on the App store made this all too clear. Sometimes I wish they hadn't even made the damn iPhone! (though I love the phone)

But I hope, and I would predict, it's not this theory, but the following that will be true:

B) This weak 13" MBP update and no MBA update is a precursor to something special at WWDC. A major revision is taking place for the premium portable/ultraportable, those who want a mobile notebook at top, top spec. As people have mentioned, though sales are lower, the margins are higher, those customers are prepared to pay more. I can't imagine Apple eschewing this demographic.

I'm going to guess we're going to see something show-stopping at WWDC, perhaps a "one more thing" item after the iPhone HD introductions to again stoke the crowd's ecstasy dwindled by the multiple post-iPhone HD presentations.

A major MBA revision at WWDC...I only hope!

If not I'll likely go elsewhere for my 13" premium ultraportable.



entatlrg
Apr 13, 2010, 02:08 PM
WWDC maybe, or Q4 or Q1/11 ...

Who knows but after today's disappointing news a lot of people are going to stop waiting and buy something else.

AppliedMicro
Apr 13, 2010, 02:08 PM
Maybe it's a technical issue.
Maybe they're awaiting some part to become widely available.
With the recent advent of the iPad I could imagine Apple having shifted engineering talent and manpower to the former.

I'd guess the MacBook Air will take the route of the Mac mini:
Its main feat was establishing the form factor.
Now that the earlier shortcomings (heat, underclocking, hinges) have been ironed out, I suppose we will see a less frequent updates. With more opportunistic timing instead of occuring in the usual product cycles (like the MB/MBP). Like with the Mac Mini, basically. I.e., when Apple sees it fit, new parts (CPUs) become available at reasonable price points...

As if it did matter anyway...
The MacBook Air isn't bought because of top-notch tech specs.

Jobsian
Apr 13, 2010, 02:38 PM
As if it did matter anyway...
The MacBook Air isn't bought because of top-notch tech specs.I think I know what you mean but I wouldn't entirely agree though I can only speak for myself. My unwritten implication is that it's bought for top-notch specs at a given form factor. If the MBA had an atom processor or ULV processor, as many similar form-factors and Air rivals had only had until late, I wouldn't have been half as interested as I was in the Air.

Its spec given its form factor, especially Revs B+C, was absolutely phenomenal (less so in today's market).

I would agree that there are other reasons that the Air is interesting :)

eba
Apr 14, 2010, 05:50 PM
The "why" seems obvious to me: Of all the Mac notebooks, the MBA is the one most likely to cannibalize sales of the iPad. We're in for a bit of a wait, I'm afraid.

koyou
Apr 14, 2010, 07:01 PM
Just look at the hulking specs of the MBA-weighted Vaio Z, it torches every other 13" and even bigger notebooks to ashes.

Don't forget Vaio Z is much thicker than MBA and even MBP. Also, Vaio Z is using aluminium + carbon fibre compared to aluminium unibody of MBA. Last but not least, Vaio Z has up to 6 hours battery life which in real usage, it will be at max. 4 hours. But, the new 13" MBP has up to 10 hours battery. Although in real usage it may has only 6 - 7 hours, but still, is more than Vaio Z.

AppliedMicro
Apr 14, 2010, 07:11 PM
The "why" seems obvious to me: Of all the Mac notebooks, the MBA is the one most likely to cannibalize sales of the iPad.
Don't think so. Why should they even worry about cannibalizing iPad sales? Firstl, the MBA is a niche product anyway. Being offered at an entirely different price point than the iPad, it would put a totally negligible dent into iPad sales anyhow. Secondly, it's not like Apple problems selling the iPad. They have problems with churning out enough units to satisfy customer demand so that they had to postpone its international launch today. Finally, would selling MBAs instead of iPads be a bad thing? The absolute margin should be higher on the MBA.

In fact, I'd rather argue that the more affordable iPad will cannibalize sales of MacBook Airs (being more expensive)... In this regard, wouldn't the logical thing to do be: releasing a revised Air as soon as possible? :p

delux246
Apr 14, 2010, 07:19 PM
In fact, I'd rather argue that the more affordable iPad will cannibalize sales of MacBook Airs (being more expensive)... In this regard, wouldn't the logical thing to do be: releasing a revised Air as soon as possible? :p

I agree one the first part but I think Apple realizes that the iPad is the next gen comp (although I don't see it as a comp now). This is the direction of technology and the Air is just a thin macbook. I see the Air being discontinued in a couple or years.

Scottsdale
Apr 14, 2010, 07:37 PM
Nice thread here Jobsian. Good post.

I believe, after thinking about it for 36 hours, that the MBA will get C2D and Nvidia 320m. I believe it's a good thing. I don't believe Apple would use a different chipset and Arrandale ULV CPU in the next MBA. I also believe the Mac mini, iMac 21.5" and MB will all get C2D and Nvidia GPU.

The biggest problem I have here, is why didn't they do this last October? Or January? Or February? Or March? Seriously, why this long for these updates?

In the end, we're probably going to get around 30% CPU gains from the same SL9x00 CPUs by reducing the throttling. We're also going to get about an 80% gain in graphics performance which is great. We are definitely going to get 4 GB of RAM in the high-end at least. There will probably be either 192 or 256 GB SSD available although maybe BTO. I also believe either a glass trackpad or something new in the trackpad. I wonder if Macs might get a glass trackpad that allows multitouch with an iPad/iPhone OS like experience by clicking on the trackpad just like the display's an iPad except controlled via a trackpad not requiring user to touch the display itself but doing the same thing... seems obvious to me.

This will provide us a much better experience than an Arrandale Core i7-9x0UM ultra low voltage CPU maybe even with a 310m with dedicated RAM. It will provide us a better experience than an Arrandale Core i7-6x0LM low voltage CPU with sole use of Intel's GMA IGP for graphics. Truly, the C2D is what is giving us the best graphics within the confined space of the MBA. People want to compare the Sony Vaio Z, because it weighs three pounds like the MBA, but it's over an inch thick! That space is critical for cooling the system!

I think we're going to be disappointed to expect anything else except maybe a new display tech (although I expect that might be in the update featuring a new form factor).

I expected this kind of update to the MBA if it came in January (or last October when I predicted it, LOL). However, I will be surprised if we do get an update that features anything great or even the need for an announcement.

I suspect that Apple moved forward with the MBPs first because they sell a lot more than the MBAs. I suspect the 320m Nvidia GPU/chipset, with C2D updates to the MBA, MB, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac all between now and WWDC. Apple will want to use this new Nvidia GPU/chipset in all its Macs that use the 13" Mac mobility chipset and mainboard.

I would bet that if there's a great new Mac introduced at WWDC it will be the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro needs an update, and that's sorta the right place to introduce a new Mac Pro design with complete update. In addition, I believe Apple will introduce two new LED ACDs at WWDC (one will be a 27" LED ACD, and the second will be approximately a 32/34" LED ACD) and it will also introduce a new AppleTV type product. Furthermore, I believe the smaller iPad speculation is true, and a 6" iPad will be introduced at WWDC. There is no reason for Apple to focus on the Mac notebooks at WWDC, as there's nothing new in terms of innovation or technology (just some spec bumps). Not all of this will happen, as it's not Apple-like to overwhelm us with new products to buy.

Anyways, it's not as bad as I thought initially, and it seems really obvious that we're going to get an MBA that looks the same with the same SL9x00 CPUs and Nvidia 320m GPUs/chipset. This is Apple, and they're about innovating, but all of that is focused on the iPad products. With the MBA, it seems that Apple is going to use the same logic board with components as the other 13" MBP, MB, and same chipsets/GPUs used in iMac 21.5" and Mac mini.

I am guessing late this year or early next year will be the next real transformation of the MBA. At that time, Apple will be forced to move beyond the C2D and Nvidia chipsets... maybe Apple will skip Arrandale there and wait for what's next.

sturmnacht
Apr 14, 2010, 10:32 PM
Don't forget Vaio Z is much thicker than MBA and even MBP. Also, Vaio Z is using aluminium + carbon fibre compared to aluminium unibody of MBA. Last but not least, Vaio Z has up to 6 hours battery life which in real usage, it will be at max. 4 hours. But, the new 13" MBP has up to 10 hours battery. Although in real usage it may has only 6 - 7 hours, but still, is more than Vaio Z.

Forumers here also have to realize the Vaio Z is on par with the 13" MBP volume-wise. Clearly Sony's cream of the crop laptop is undeniably the cream of the crop of ultraportable laptops.

glitch44
Apr 15, 2010, 12:34 AM
I don't see an update at WWDC.

Q4.

Scottsdale
Apr 15, 2010, 01:28 AM
I don't see an update at WWDC.

Q4.

If Apple sticks with the same form factor, and uses the same C2D and Nvidia 320m as the 13" MBPs, I guarantee it by WWDC. All Apple is doing is giving the MBPs their moment and time to be produced first, because the 13" MBP is Apple's most popular Mac. Now if the MBA were to truly get a form factor change, you could be correct. I have to believe Apple is truly disgusted with the Intel GMA IGP and chipsets to be so willing to stick with C2D and Nvidia. The Intel GMA IGP is simply incredibly inferior to the Nvidia 9400m even... so a 320m at 80% improvement is a great deal for us. I don't see Apple changing the MBA and going with Core iAnything until Intel's next round of chip improvements utilizing 32nm on all DIEs on chip. Also, Intel's roadmap calls for canceling the Core 2 Duo at the end of 2010. At that time, Apple will have to choose, suck it up and go with Intel, switch to AMD, or Cortex A9 for the MBA...

I see an update as soon as the production facilities have room for it after the MBP sales cool down and initial demands are met. I expect a quiet update in the store bringing us C2D SL9x00 CPUs with 30% improvement in benchmarks (reducing throttling) and 80% improvement in graphics performance with a 320m. I also see 4 GB of RAM, glass trackpad, and no other improvements until the "big" update (with new display tech and more).

I would be glad to be wrong and see a Core i7-640LM with a dedicated Nvidia 310m graphics solution w/1GB VRAM, two RAM slots for up to 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, glass OLED display inside a multitouch trackpad adding iPad like capabilities to the MBA's trackpad, OLED/3D displays with super high resolution, BluRay support, new form factor dropping weight by 1/2 lb, thinner case while .25" at thickest point, USB 3.0, LightPeak, MDP, HDMI, DVI (all in one small port tray with rotating port selection), Intel wireless display tech, aluminum-capped keyboard keys, surround sound, digital out, 3G/4G/LTE built in, and a 32" LED ACD comes with the MBA as a docking station setup, free iPhone, free iPad, 24-hour battery, Flash w/API support, and how about unlimited iTunes content for the life of the product... all for $999! But I don't think any of this is happening with this update. I think the 13" MBP shows us exactly where Apple is going with the MBA update, and I believe there's no reason to wait any longer for an update that could have been given to us last October, if not last June.

koyou
Apr 15, 2010, 04:57 AM
I think the next update of MBA will be more or less the same as the new 13" MBP. Comparing 2009 13" MBP and the current MBA, their specs are very similar. The differences are only CPU (faster in MBP), HDD (air: 4200 rpm vs MBP: 5400 rpm) and the slots which does not exist in MBA.

The next MBA will have only C2D CPU and the same graphic card as the new 13" MBP, unless there is a new form factor providing more space and heat treatment.

DeRail
Apr 15, 2010, 05:55 AM
I just have to mention I few things from your post Scottdale

The Intel GMA IGP is simply incredibly inferior to the Nvidia 9400m even...

The GMA HD is actually not that bad in performance in comparison...
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Graphics-Media-Accelerator-HD.23065.0.html

"In some games, the GMA HD is even as fast as a GeForce 9400M / ION chipset. On average it should be as fast as the HD 3200 / 4200 by ATI and therefore allow the user to play older and less demanding games in low settings. The driver support is still not as good as for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards."

Cortex A9 for the MBA...

Definitely NOT going to happen. Cortex is an ARM processor not x86 which means no OSX or any other software built for it. The only thing this would allow is the iPhone OS on it. would you really want that on the Air?

gri
Apr 15, 2010, 10:42 AM
I doubt/am afraid it won't be WWDC. They have 1.) The NEW iPhon;e 2.) iPhone/Pad OS4; 3.) The new medium sized iPad; 4.) one last thing - new Mac Pros... Maybe new MB.
1 & 2 seem almost certain, the rest is rumor. MP are overdue, Laptops have just been updated, the iPad is the new mobile "computing", "ultraportable" device so I agree with others - why distract from that with a sexy new MBA? Unless they call it "everything mobile" or something alike. But - the MP are the flagship high end Pro computers, so WWDC would be a good venue. MBA is a niche.

So - I wish it will happen, I assume it will be later in 2010 or early 2011 (if at all). I am going to get a refurbished one now (too much traveling in the next 8 weeks for my 4 year old MBP) and the new one whenever it comes out.

halledise
Apr 15, 2010, 03:47 PM
I doubt/am afraid it won't be WWDC. They have 1.) The NEW iPhon;e 2.) iPhone/Pad OS4; 3.) The new medium sized iPad; 4.) one last thing - new Mac Pros... Maybe new MB.
1 & 2 seem almost certain, the rest is rumor. MP are overdue, Laptops have just been updated, the iPad is the new mobile "computing", "ultraportable" device so I agree with others - why distract from that with a sexy new MBA? Unless they call it "everything mobile" or something alike. But - the MP are the flagship high end Pro computers, so WWDC would be a good venue. MBA is a niche.

So - I wish it will happen, I assume it will be later in 2010 or early 2011 (if at all). I am going to get a refurbished one now (too much traveling in the next 8 weeks for my 4 year old MBP) and the new one whenever it comes out.

I thinks all of the above is a very good call.
(then again, Apple do love to pleasantly surprise.)
your intention to buy a current model refurb is also a great idea.
just the other day here in Aus on ebay an as-new MBA 2.13 with SSD fetched Au$1950 - just $400 below new price.
THe Air certainly holds value well
And whether or not they are 'old' technology, they still fly

Scottsdale
Apr 15, 2010, 04:37 PM
I just have to mention I few things from your post Scottdale



The GMA HD is actually not that bad in performance in comparison...
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Graphics-Media-Accelerator-HD.23065.0.html

"In some games, the GMA HD is even as fast as a GeForce 9400M / ION chipset. On average it should be as fast as the HD 3200 / 4200 by ATI and therefore allow the user to play older and less demanding games in low settings. The driver support is still not as good as for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards."



Definitely NOT going to happen. Cortex is an ARM processor not x86 which means no OSX or any other software built for it. The only thing this would allow is the iPhone OS on it. would you really want that on the Air?

BS. You're reading non-scientific data and most importantly all of those studies are with Windows OS which is completely different. You are drinking some Intel KoolAid.

If the Intel GMA IGP included with Arrandale even came close to the 9400m, don't you believe Apple would have been happy to go with it rather than moving to the 320m? It would have been a lot easier to just give us all Intel Core i series CPUs with their own GMA IGPs. The problem is they have no ability to compete when it comes to graphics... they cannot even compete with nearly two year old Nvidia GPUs. Nevermind the fact that the Nvidia 320m is an 80% improvement over the 9400m.

We all know the ARM Cortex A9 isn't X86... nobody ever said it was. I do believe that at some point Apple will switch away from Intel, and the reason is Intel wants to play bully. It's better to get away from such a company especially when they're the supplier of the most expensive parts of your electronics components. Don't count Apple out from changing the way we do everything with computers. The way of just bumping the CPU specs doesn't truly give the user a better experience. Our experience could be so much better if software and graphics performances were improved greatly. The CPUs are plenty powerful enough for the next five years. Apple doesn't have to run x86... it can change everything, and it will eventually if the numbers make sense of it. With the development of the iPhone OS, Apple is quickly learning how to provide users a better experience via observation of material usually used by an x86 computer to perform (whether playing games on a computer, watching video, or etc). Apple will also learn how to make this same style of OS on its own system-on-a-chip silicon that also provides creation computation and not just observation on the devices. If you think Apple doesn't have this tech in its vision, you better go read some more about the companies Apple has acquired and the technologies Apple is using to change how computers are used and operate for the end users.

Seriously, don't limit your scope of Apple and the Mac to x86, as that's a huge mistake!

Scottsdale
Apr 15, 2010, 04:49 PM
I doubt/am afraid it won't be WWDC. They have 1.) The NEW iPhon;e 2.) iPhone/Pad OS4; 3.) The new medium sized iPad; 4.) one last thing - new Mac Pros... Maybe new MB.
1 & 2 seem almost certain, the rest is rumor. MP are overdue, Laptops have just been updated, the iPad is the new mobile "computing", "ultraportable" device so I agree with others - why distract from that with a sexy new MBA? Unless they call it "everything mobile" or something alike. But - the MP are the flagship high end Pro computers, so WWDC would be a good venue. MBA is a niche.

So - I wish it will happen, I assume it will be later in 2010 or early 2011 (if at all). I am going to get a refurbished one now (too much traveling in the next 8 weeks for my 4 year old MBP) and the new one whenever it comes out.

It seems obvious to me that the entire 13" mobility product line will get the same update as the 13" MBPs. Apple uses one chipset/graphics set across its entire line of 13" MBP, MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac. Look at how the 9400m has been used in all of these same devices. Why would Apple change strategy now? Part of Apple's strategic model is to use economies of scale not just to build each product better and at lower costs but to make one chipset model/logic board development work across all of its entry level and 13" mobility devices.

I see a quiet update to the MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac following the exact same model as Apple has used in the past. It doesn't make sense for Apple to offer a completely different MBA with an entirely different component makeup. In addition, Apple is focused on the iPads and iPhone OS right now. It will do the minimum required to keep its Macs going. The iPads and iPhones are selling more Macs, so Apple doesn't have to keep innovating with the Macs if it keeps innovating with iPhone OS products.

Yes the iPhone will be the focus of WWDC, but Apple could introduce any number of products as I have mentioned before. Could it introduce a new MBA there? Sure, but why if it's just going to be the same old case, CPU, and Nvidia GPU/chipset. So if it's updated at WWDC it will just read the new specs off on one Keynote slide just as it did last year at WWDC. I believe the MBA is in for a bigger update, but that should be the next update when Apple is forced to move away from C2D and the Nvidia chipset/GPU model.

Look at the past, and tell me why Apple would completely change its strategy with any of the 13" mobility products? The 13" MBP, MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac (20" iMac before it) have had the exact same chipset/GPU and CPU types for the last few years. There is no reason to believe it will take Apple more than a few months to get the production ramped up to update all of the internals of these products to the same C2D and Nvidia 320m as the 13" MBPs just received. Any speculation beyond that is just hope. With Intel ending the C2D products at the end of 2010, it makes a lot of sense to believe the MBA will get a bigger update in 2011 or even late 2010. There is no reason not to stimulate sales now with a C2D and Nvidia 320m chipset that are already ready to go and just need to be setup for an MBA production run.

gri
Apr 15, 2010, 05:52 PM
It seems obvious to me that the entire 13" mobility product line will get the same update as the 13" MBPs. Apple uses one chipset/graphics set across its entire line of 13" MBP, MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac. Look at how the 9400m has been used in all of these same devices. Why would Apple change strategy now? [...]

I see a quiet update to the MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac following the exact same model as Apple has used in the past. [...]

With Intel ending the C2D products at the end of 2010, it makes a lot of sense to believe the MBA will get a bigger update in 2011 or even late 2010. There is no reason not to stimulate sales now with a C2D and Nvidia 320m chipset that are already ready to go and just need to be setup for an MBA production run.

I leave the speculation to you as the advanced expert with insight as demonstrated by your many appreciated posts. Couldn't it be that Apple may skip to update the MBA now and update later in the year along the line of the 13' MBP (as you suggested) when the C2D is running out? Could be an update late 2010 with higher specs in the 15', 17' MBP and a change of procesor in the 13' MBP and MBA. Might be a silent MBA update in between. However, the end of the C2D in late 2010 actually means that inevitably an update of the 13' MBP must happen and that might be carried over to the MBA (or they drop both, which I doubt). We will see if the silent update of the MBA is worth it. I may skip that one and see what happens late 2010 (now since I ordered the refurnished one) or jump on than.

halledise
Apr 15, 2010, 06:29 PM
WWDC big announcements - new iPhone running OS4 and G5 PowerBooks :D

aapl fan
Apr 15, 2010, 07:44 PM
Some pretty good discussion here. Tough to imagine Apple going with core i technology since they specifically forwent it in the 13" refresh. On the other hand, tough to see them sticking with the same SL9600 2.13 chip after a 1 year upgrade cycle. Also, if Apple was planning on keeping the Air on the old program, why wouldn't they have just released them along with the MBP's last Tuesday?

As such, I'm inclined to lean towards a more radically new Air this summer. Intel's second gen of ULV CPUs could yield a compelling boost in portability and performance. As far as IGP performance, isn't Air's 9400M somewhat throttled compared to the MBP? This could potentially allow Apple to utilize Intels IGP without a noticeable drop in performance. At the same time, I wouldn't put much more than even money on any of this happening.

Beyond internals, the 4th Air refresh could very well see some form factor updates. A glass screen, buttonless trackpad, slightly updated keyboard (the mbp keyboard is already slightly different from the AIR), and maybe some other changes.

Scottsdale
Apr 15, 2010, 10:04 PM
I leave the speculation to you as the advanced expert with insight as demonstrated by your many appreciated posts. Couldn't it be that Apple may skip to update the MBA now and update later in the year along the line of the 13' MBP (as you suggested) when the C2D is running out? Could be an update late 2010 with higher specs in the 15', 17' MBP and a change of procesor in the 13' MBP and MBA. Might be a silent MBA update in between. However, the end of the C2D in late 2010 actually means that inevitably an update of the 13' MBP must happen and that might be carried over to the MBA (or they drop both, which I doubt). We will see if the silent update of the MBA is worth it. I may skip that one and see what happens late 2010 (now since I ordered the refurnished one) or jump on than.

Well, I am no "advanced expert" but I do believe I understand technology and business strategy (btw, I consult on technology and business strategy for smaller companies). If Apple didn't have a history of utilizing the same CPU/chipset/GPU in all of its 13" mobility products, one could make a strong argument against my case. The problem is the MBA has been successful since following the other 13" mobility products (not just 13" products but all that use the same CPU/chipset/GPU strategy - MBA, 13" MBP, MB, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac). I am calling them 13" mobility products because three of the five represent Apple's complete 13" mobility product offerings and the other two are based on the same exact components.

Now, it is possible Apple will skip this update for the MBA and use the MBA as the launching platform for the next series of CPUs and chipsets for 13" mobility products. Of course Apple could have gone with C2D and a 320m Nvidia chipset as early as last October... but why introduce this MBP update now with such components? It does seem that Apple will be forced to upgrade the 13" mobility products by the end of the year, so waiting is possible. The 13" MBP had to be updated, as did the other MBPs. That product is Apple's number one seller (13" al. MB/MBP), and not upgrading it was creating backlash and bad speak about Apple. So the 13" got what it could have got six months ago, this week. Does that tell us Apple is going to wait with ALL of the other 13" mobility products? Will it really wait for the MBA, MB, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac updates? The MBA is nearly eleven months old with no real update since October 2008. The other products were updated over six months ago already meaning they're due. If Apple just finalized this 320m and C2D strategy, why wouldn't it implement it with all of the 13" mobility products? The way production works is equipment is all moved to make the new equipment and then they go forward with the new tech. I would bet Apple is done making 13" mobility products with 9400m GPU/chipsets. I would bet the stockpile is there, and when the stockpile runs low, and when the new 13" MBPs demand is being met, Apple will focus on getting the other 13" mobility products updated.

Possible Apple can do anything, but with the iPad and iPhone OS 4.0 products in general being Apple's focus, do we really think Apple would have bigger plans for the MBA, now, in six months? I wish, but Apple has stopped everything else so it can focus on iPhone OS 4.0 products. Why not update the MBA now if the products are all ready and you can build one series of product lines easier? It is a lot less expensive the way Apple uses one component set for all of its 13" mobility products. Why not go ahead and call it a day with all of your products and spur more sales (and some disappointment will be there no matter what)? Leave real innovation for early 2011 when Apple must move beyond C2D with the 13" mobility product lines. Why make the MBA lover wait when all the MBA buyers truly NEED is 4 GB of RAM?

Hell, the 9400m and C2D CPUs are fine. Where is our real problem, the RAM and drive space. Beyond that, the MBA needs some innovation that doesn't cost real money. Maybe Apple waits to introduce a new display in the MBA at WWDC, but I still see the MBA being updated by WWDC. In looking at Apple in the past, they have just used this strategy and it works for Apple. They save in production costs, development costs, and even software costs which all gives its products stability and ease of implementation of features like h.264 hardware acceleration and OpenCL with one GPU across all of the 13" mobility product line.

Apple can do anything it wants, but right now it seems less concerned about the Mac and more concerned about its iPhone OS products set to revolutionize the world. Jobs vision is to sell every family in America an iPad or two... he just doesn't have the focus with the MBA.

Scottsdale
Apr 15, 2010, 10:19 PM
Some pretty good discussion here. Tough to imagine Apple going with core i technology since they specifically forwent it in the 13" refresh. On the other hand, tough to see them sticking with the same SL9600 2.13 chip after a 1 year upgrade cycle. Also, if Apple was planning on keeping the Air on the old program, why wouldn't they have just released them along with the MBP's last Tuesday?

As such, I'm inclined to lean towards a more radically new Air this summer. Intel's second gen of ULV CPUs could yield a compelling boost in portability and performance. As far as IGP performance, isn't Air's 9400M somewhat throttled compared to the MBP? This could potentially allow Apple to utilize Intels IGP without a noticeable drop in performance. At the same time, I wouldn't put much more than even money on any of this happening.

Beyond internals, the 4th Air refresh could very well see some form factor updates. A glass screen, buttonless trackpad, slightly updated keyboard (the mbp keyboard is already slightly different from the AIR), and maybe some other changes.

Possible, but is it like Apple to do this? Apple has failed with the original MBA which used a radically different strategy than the other 13" mobility products. I believe you are wishfully thinking... it doesn't make sense given Apple's proven business model with all of the 13" products using the same internal makeup chipset, series of CPUs, GPU, and logic board.

I would be happy to be wrong IF Apple can give us an MBA with a dedicated graphics solution. If this new product uses Intel's Arrandale Low Voltage or Ultra Low Voltage CPUs how does Apple make a dedicated card work? Why would Apple use a different strategy with the MBA when the Arrandale CPU with its GMA IGP wasn't good enough for the 13" MBPs? Apple couldn't put a dedicated graphics solution in the 13" MBP, so how does it make it happen in the MBA? I don't believe it's cost based but rather a decision to make one component set across all 13" mobility Macs (okay financial based). But I believe that decision was made because Apple couldn't make a dedicated solution work in the MBA and/or possibly other 13" mobility products (13" MBP, MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac). It would seem that the MBA would be the smallest space to cram a dedicated graphics solution and try to cool it.

Remember, SJ says that the graphics on the Intel Arrandale CPUs are not sufficient. When we see independent studies, they show the Intel GMA IGP included in Arrandale CPUs are about a 50% drop from the 9400m. Now also remember that the 320m gives us an 80% boost in performance and a 35% drop in TDP. It makes a lot of sense that Apple made this decision for the 13" MBP based on ALL of its 13" mobility products including the MBA.

I can say that it is just as possible for Apple to not even deal with the MBA if sales aren't strong enough to warrant an upgrade now. If it cannot sell a certain number of MBAs with an update to C2D and Nvidia, then wait until sales warrant an upgrade. However, we can all read the posts and the number one reason people are not buying an MBA is the lack of RAM... it has NOTHING to do with the C2D CPU or Nvidia 9400m GPU. The number two reason for not buying an MBA, the lack of drive space. Apple can update the MBA to 4 GB of RAM, a 192/256 GB SSD, and use the same C2D, new Nvidia 320m, and even boost the performance of the current CPU by de-throttling it. It all makes sense to boost sales now and offer this small MBA update now to what seems to be the two reasons people aren't buying the MBA as it currently is. I believe Apple could triple MBA sales just by upgrading the RAM and offering more drive space options. Add to that less throttling of the CPU, so it can market 30% performance boosts, and a new 320m with 80% graphics boost, and we have a real update. Then, take some time and focus on how to make a really great MBA with amazing innovative updates when the iPhone OS 4.0 products have all been released and there is a break in the action.

Maybe I am looking at this all wrong? It seems to make sense to me though.

gri
Apr 16, 2010, 09:35 AM
Maybe I am looking at this all wrong? It seems to make sense to me though.

It makes perfect sense. I only wonder if - given all the attention and focus shift to the iPad and iPhone OS - they are doing it until WWDC or just let it sit and offer a major upgrade come the end of C2D. In fact, they probably have to work on it already if the end of the CPU is 7 months out. I wish you were completely right and we see a RAM/Disc upgrade by WWDC but I am afraid that all the iPhone/iPad stuff AND the not yet upgraded MP make more sense (with new LED screens for example - how old is Apples 30 inch screen by now, 5 years?) for Apple right now. An upgraded MBA (even if silent) might drive people away from the iPad. But offering a completely new 13 inch family say in January 2011 or Q4 for the holiday season once C2D dies might warrant good publicity ("The NEW 13' inch Macs: MB, MBP and MBA..."). We will see.
In the meantime I am starting my Europe traveling season with the refurbished MBA I ordered yesterday, at the same time waiting for the real upgrade we all want but enjoying the weight AND improvements over my now 4 year old first gen. MBP

AppliedMicro
Apr 16, 2010, 01:47 PM
One could just ask: What's wrong about the MacBook Air, in its current incarnation?

To me, the answer is quite simple: Battery life and thermal envelope.

When you consider that the Air is aggressively marketed as a mobile device ("ultraportable"), 5 hours are nothing. Especially when compared to the 10 hour upgrade the MBP 13" just got (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=898029), or to the many Windows netbooks around there. And while baseline performance seems just alright to me, I have the feeling that my MacBook Air chokes (throttles) on demanding video playback (H264), Flash and the like.

A possible solution could be just as simple:
Replace its guts with even lower voltage (ULV) components.

I still believe there might be a market for a portable Mac (running a full-featured Mac OS X, as opposed to the iPhone OS on the iPad) that is optimized towards portability instead of performance ("Pro" line) or price (MacBook white). Low voltage components seem well suited to that. However, I strongly doubt Apple will be making a step backwards and release a MacBook Air with lower performance than its predecessor.

Are the necessary components available?
I.e., does Intel make an ultra low voltage CPU providing at least the same performance as the current one?

The current generation MacBook Air uses a Low Voltage CPU
with 1.86GHz (Core 2 Duo SL9400) or 2.13 GHz (SL9600, respectively) with a 17W TDP. The fastest ULV CPU currently officially available from Intel is the Core 2 Duo SU9600 with a 10W TDP, clocking at 1.6GHz. Seeing that the SU9600 was released slightly more than a year ago, its next iteration could just be around the corner. And it could be just what Apple is waiting for: A CPU providing the same performance as the current MacBook Air, but at a lesser power draw.

gwsat
Apr 16, 2010, 02:16 PM
One could just ask: What's wrong about the MacBook Air, in its current incarnation?

To me, the answer is quite simple: Battery life and thermal envelope.
You are right, of course, although the primary factor that caused me to decide against getting the current MBA was its limited 2Gb of RAM. For reasons I have expressed in other threads in this Forum, that means the MBA couldn't satisfy my needs. What you have raised, plus the MBA's limited RAM give credence to the theory posited by some that Apple decided not to refresh the MBA in order that there be no danger a refreshed model might overshadow the newly released iPad. That's certainly what happened with me. I bought an iPad within hours after I learned that Apple had not refreshed the MBA. If nothing else, Steve Jobs is a marketing genius. :)

Scottsdale
Apr 16, 2010, 03:06 PM
One could just ask: What's wrong about the MacBook Air, in its current incarnation?

To me, the answer is quite simple: Battery life and thermal envelope.

When you consider that the Air is aggressively marketed as a mobile device ("ultraportable"), 5 hours are nothing. Especially when compared to the 10 hour upgrade the MBP 13" just got (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=898029), or to the many Windows netbooks around there. And while baseline performance seems just alright to me, I have the feeling that my MacBook Air chokes (throttles) on demanding video playback (H264), Flash and the like.

A possible solution could be just as simple:
Replace its guts with even lower voltage (ULV) components.

I still believe there might be a market for a portable Mac (running a full-featured Mac OS X, as opposed to the iPhone OS on the iPad) that is optimized towards portability instead of performance ("Pro" line) or price (MacBook white). Low voltage components seem well suited to that. However, I strongly doubt Apple will be making a step backwards and release a MacBook Air with lower performance than its predecessor.

Are the necessary components available?
I.e., does Intel make an ultra low voltage CPU providing at least the same performance as the current one?

The current generation MacBook Air uses a Low Voltage CPU
with 1.86GHz (Core 2 Duo SL9400) or 2.13 GHz (SL9600, respectively) with a 17W TDP. The fastest ULV CPU currently officially available from Intel is the Core 2 Duo SU9600 with a 10W TDP, clocking at 1.6GHz. Seeing that the SU9600 was released slightly more than a year ago, its next iteration could just be around the corner. And it could be just what Apple is waiting for: A CPU providing the same performance as the current MacBook Air, but at a lesser power draw.

I completely disagree with your assessments.

Look at what people complain about as to why they're not buying an MBA. It has nothing to do with the battery life or TDP of CPU/GPU. Most people who use an MBA, myself included, love the MBA's power and performance. Sure, if you're talking an original MBA, the Merom CPU and Intel GMA were problematic and the thing was always hot and remember the performance loss by utilizing Intel's GMA IGP. The Penryn SL9600 and SL9400 at 2.13 and 1.86 GHz have been amazing and can run nearly the speed of the MB while at half the TDP. In addition, the use of the Nvidia 9400m has allowed the MBA to compete with the MB with similar performance but weighing a lot less and being a lot thinner.

The MBA could be fine with the same SL9600 and Nvidia 320m... add in 4 GB of RAM and some more disk space, and the MBA would sell like hotcakes! Most people aren't complaining that their MBA cannot do what they want or it's too hot nor that the battery doesn't last long enough, they're complaining that they cannot run Windows 7 in a VM sharing out 2 GB of RAM or they're complaining they don't have the disk space they need. I believe you're confusing the problems with the current MBA and original MBA.

Also, the MBA doesn't "choke" on h.264. The MBA has problems running plug-ins in the browsers especially with Flash where Apple will not allow it to run h.264. Also, I can run my 2.13 GHz MBA with Windows 7 and get STUNNING performance with Flash and other plug-ins that run h.264 on the exact same hardware, MBA. The problem is OS X and Apple wanting everyone to pay to run the content within iTunes... that's FACT! Look at how the MBA runs HD content and h.264 outside of a browser or inside an application not running in a browser. Go use an MBA for a day in OS X and try to run free ad-based Flash content... then spend a day doing the exact same thing on the exact same MBA in Windows 7. You will quickly learn that the MBA's hardware is NO PROBLEM at all. The problem is when plug-ins don't have access to APIs the performance is inferior to that on the same hardware while running Windows 7 platform.

I completely disagree with every point in your thread. An ultra low voltage CPU isn't going to do anything different as it's going to run at 1.2 GHz and be even more disappointing in Windows... run cooler, but that's not a problem with the current MBA. Again, you're considering the original 20W TDP Merom CPU and its overheating issues. Sure, you're going to get more battery life but at a huge cost to performance. I will take my four hours of battery life over losing performance and capabilities of my Mac. What you really want is to not only stick us with Intel's ULV Core i-series CPU, you also want to stick us with Intel's most inferior GMA IGP. Remember, there's no Nvidia GPU with Intel's ULV Arrandale chips. Want to talk about losing 30-50% CPU performance and losing another 50% CPU performance over the 9400m... let alone consider the difference in the 320m at 80% superior to the 9400m. Do you realize what you're going to lose in performance to gain your battery life? Want to do it by adding more battery??? The whole advantage of the MBA is not its thinness it's the weight of the MBA. Sure, we can get a 24-hour battery in the MBA if we're willing to add a pound or two... really? That's what you want? You cannot have it both ways, in fact you're willing to lose on both fronts! Power and performance of the CPU and power and performance of the graphics... then you're willing to lose by getting rid of the 3 lb. MBA to get your 12-hour or more battery???

People, this logic makes no sense. Think about why you love the MBA? Even think about the 13" MBPs. Why would Apple not go with the MBA that really works? What worked for the MBA, Intel and Intel GMA with the original MBA, or Intel LV CPU and Nvidia 320m GPU which is the same strategy that works in the current MBA (remember that Apple can give us a performance boost in CPU with the savings of power for the 320m).

We absolutely have to give up either the performance or the weight and thinness to get your beloved 10+ hour battery. That is not a fair trade off nor one that I believe most would be willing to make. I tell you what... create a thread with a poll.

Ask people if they would prefer an MBA with a Core i7-640UM running at 1.2 GHz with sole use of Intel's GMA IGP to get 10 hours from their MBA, OR if they would rather have an SL9600 running at closer to 2 GHz with an Nvidia 320m. Explain the numbers of each. The Intel ULV option leaves them with a typical 30-50% loss in CPU performance (remember with the TDP savings in the 320m GPU the CPU can be de-throttled on the SL9x00), while the graphics would be a loss of at least 50% from the current MBA's 9400m (about 70% less than 320m). Also explain that the second option will give them a 30% boost in CPU from the same SL9600 by reducing the throttling, and an 80% boost in GPU over the 9400m by moving to the 320m that uses 35% less TDP than the 9400m.

Option one - Intel Core i7, ULV 1.2 GHz, Intel GMA graphics, 1/2 lb. weight added... 10-hour battery.

Option two - Intel C2D, LV 2 GHz, Nvidia 320m graphics... 4/5-hour battery depending on how CPU/GPU are optimized.

Remind them where the original MBA was with its Intel graphics. Remind them that they will lose not just CPU performance but the Intel ULV will give them approximately 25% of the graphics capabilities of the 320m.

iMacmatician
Apr 16, 2010, 03:56 PM
If that rumor about future Macs using AMD is true, I'm going to guess that a 2011 Llano MacBook Air may be the next "large" MacBook Air update.

Remind them where the original MBA was with its Intel graphics. Remind them that they will lose not just CPU performance but the Intel ULV will give them approximately 25% of the graphics capabilities of the 320m.The GPU decision for Apple in the 13" MacBook Pro (and MacBook Air) wasn't the GMA HD vs. the 9400M. It was the GMA HD vs. the 320M, and the 320 is the clear winner there.

Scottsdale
Apr 16, 2010, 05:00 PM
If that rumor about future Macs using AMD is true, I'm going to guess that a 2011 Llano MacBook Air may be the next "large" MacBook Air update.

Yes, I was looking at the AMD lineup and roadmap also. I don't know that we're ultimately headed there, yet. But it's interesting news/rumor. As I read in one article about it, Apple could just be using AMD to leverage its relationship with Intel. Certainly Intel will think a lot more about its axing of Nvidia and the GPU/chipset if that move costs Intel not just its chipset business but also its CPU business. Apple is a big player, and maybe as important as the sales to Apple is the brand image to be in Apple's Mac computers. Don't conclude this as finished, and don't consider Nvidia out of the game yet.

I am fully for something that focuses less on the CPU performance gains and much more on the graphics gains. We can really improve computing by focusing more on the GPU at this time. We have CPUs that wouldn't be fully utilized for many years if we focused on taking advantage of the CPU with better software. In addition, how about improving the drive controllers and the drive performance well beyond Intel's SSDs.

I would appreciate the AMD CPUs more because they would probably include ATI graphics in a super system of sorts. While some will be disappointed Intel CPUs were gone, most would be ecstatic to move to much better ATI graphics. Apple has focused on the graphics gains over the CPU gains with its move to stick with C2D and improve the GPU to the 320m.

Regarding your last paragraph to me...

The GPU decision for Apple in the 13" MacBook Pro (and MacBook Air) wasn't the GMA HD vs. the 9400M. It was the GMA HD vs. the 320M, and the 320 is the clear winner there.

Please tell me what this means? I did compare both the 9400m and the 320m. I used both numbers to explain what we have and where we could go with each set of statistics reported. I didn't just include one, as both were used in comparison. Obviously, my hypothesis is Apple used the 320m and C2D in the 13" MBP not just because it was the best choice for the MBP, but because it was the best choice for Apple's entire 13" mobility products line's chipset/components which includes the 13" MBP, 13" MB, 13" MBA, Mac mini and 21.5" iMac products.

raccoontail
Apr 16, 2010, 05:03 PM
I completely disagree with your assessments.
Look at what people complain about as to why they're not buying an MBA. It has nothing to do with the battery life or TDP of CPU/GPU. Most people who use an MBA, myself included, love the MBA's power and performance

Coming from an iMac owner who wants an ultra-portable mac laptop, for me to spend the $$$$ for a MBA I would need 4GB of RAM and min 5 hour battery life to even consider. The MBA form factor is great, but the specs are just not on par with its price. Let's compare it to my Samsung-NC150 netbook:

Price: Advantage Netbook. 20% of of the MBA's cost.
Battery: Advantage Netbook. 2x MBA.
Ports: Advantage Netbook: VGA, SD, 3 USB, ethernet
RAM capacity: Identical at 2GB
OS: Advantage MBA, though Win 7 is surprisingly stable
Screen: Big Advantage MBA
Weight: Draw
Storage: Draw. SSD is nice but netbook HD is 33% larger than MBA biggest storage option.
Video: Advantage MBA - though neither are very good at video
Portability: Advantage Netbook. A bit thicker, but much smaller overall and no case/manila folder required.
Input: Advantage MBA keyboard is backlit, trackpad larger
Processor/Speed: Slight advantage MBA. Sure the MBA is faster, but if you are primarily running MS Office, the Windows office apps are so much faster than the mac counterparts, there's not much difference in terms of usability

I honestly hope the next MBA updates raise it to a useful value proposition, but between the options of a netbook or a MBP, I can't imagine very many people find the MBA appealing these days.

Scottsdale
Apr 16, 2010, 05:12 PM
Coming from an iMac owner who wants an ultra-portable mac laptop, for me to spend the $$$$ for a MBA I would need 4GB of RAM and min 5 hour battery life to even consider. The MBA form factor is great, but the specs are just not on par with its price. Let's compare it to my Samsung-NC150 netbook:

Price: Advantage Netbook. 20% of of the MBA's cost.
Battery: Advantage Netbook. 2x MBA.
Ports: Advantage Netbook: VGA, SD, 3 USB, ethernet
RAM capacity: Identical at 2GB
OS: Advantage MBA, though Win 7 is surprisingly stable
Screen: Big Advantage MBA
Weight: Draw
Storage: Draw. SSD is nice but netbook HD is 33% larger than MBA biggest storage option.
Video: Advantage MBA - though neither are very good at video
Portability: Advantage Netbook. A bit thicker, but much smaller overall and no case/manila folder required.
Input: Advantage MBA keyboard is backlit, trackpad larger
Processor/Speed: Slight advantage MBA. Sure the MBA is faster, but if you are primarily running MS Office, the Windows office apps are so much faster than the mac counterparts, there's not much difference in terms of usability

I honestly hope the next MBA updates raise it to a useful value proposition, but between the options of a netbook or a MBP, I can't imagine very many people find the MBA appealing these days.

Um, okay. You and I are talking two different things if you're satisfied with a netbook or even want to compare it to an MBA. The MBA owner gets a full-sized beautiful LED backlit display and a full-sized keyboard to type on. Those are the reasons why it's successful. In addition, it has the power of an MB yet the weight and thinness of an ultraportable.

I am comparing the MBA with an ultra low voltage Intel Core i-series CPU with Intel's GMA graphics vs. an MBA with a C2D SL9600 and Nvidia 320m. The 4 GB of RAM is a given in the upgrade. Now, do you want 10 hours and half the CPU capabilities and 1/4 of the graphics capabilities, or five hours and a hell of a performing Mac just like the 13" MB?

My posts are not to compare the MBA to a worthless netbook. A netbook isn't worth the time of day for me to argue its one point of greatness, CHEAP! Built cheap too!

Anyone want to debate the two future MBA options? Or are we going to get challenged by netbook owners some more?

AppliedMicro
Apr 16, 2010, 06:00 PM
Most people who use an MBA, myself included, love the MBA's power and performance.
No. They love it because of its design and portability. While many appreciate that its power, display and keyboard is way ahead of current notebooks, power and performance is definitely NOT the primary selling point.

add in 4 GB of RAM and some more disk space, and the MBA would sell like hotcakes!
I absolutely don't think so. The Air is regarded as a less capable machine (performance, lack of optical drive) machine at an even higher price point than the other 13 inch machines. Which doesn't change with a HD/CPU upgrade. There is no physical way to make it as capable and powerful as the 13" MBP.

Most people aren't complaining that their MBA cannot do what they want ()
they're complaining that they cannot run Windows 7 in a VM sharing out 2 GB of RAM or they're complaining they don't have the disk space they need.
People WANT to run Windows 7 in a VM and complain that it cannot (run well), while at the same time they are NOT complaining that it cannot do what they want?

You're contradicting yourself here.

None, not a single of my customers complained about Windows 7 (in a VM) performance on the Air, let alone shied away from buying one because of it. Now this only my personal observation. But I do sell Macs for a living.

run cooler, but that's not a problem with the current MBA. Again, you're considering the original 20W TDP Merom CPU and its overheating issues
I do use the current generation MacBook Air everyday.
It has been recently cleaned by our technician, so there's no issue with dust inside.
And customers are telling me the same.


An ultra low voltage CPU isn't going to do anything different as it's going to run at 1.2 GHz.

What you really want is to not only stick us with Intel's ULV Core i-series CPU, you also want to stick us with Intel's most inferior GMA IGP. Remember, there's no Nvidia GPU with Intel's ULV Arrandale chips. Want to talk about losing 30-50% CPU performance and losing another 50% CPU performance over the 9400m... let alone consider the difference in the 320m at 80% superior to the 9400m. Do you realize what you're going to lose in performance to gain your battery life?

Not at all.
This goes against everything I actually wrote in my previous post.
ULV CPUs running at up to 1.6 GHz exist today.
I explicitly mentioned the Core 2 Duo SU9600, which is of course NOT based on the new Core microarchitecture.
Die-shrink the thing, and we have a winner.
Pair it with a Geforce 9400GM (or whatever), and we would be seeing improvements in battery life.

Why shouldn't Apple be able to do it?
See, that's almost exactly what Apple did with the MBP 13".
And you yourself stated it in the other thread:
Improvements in battery life on the MBP 13" are (more than anything) based on lower power draw, not on larger battery capacity.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9685498&postcount=18

Do you realize what you're going to lose in performance to gain your battery life? Want to do it by adding more battery??? The whole advantage of the MBA is not its thinness it's the weight of the MBA. Sure, we can get a 24-hour battery in the MBA if we're willing to add a pound or two... really? That's what you want? You cannot have it both ways, in fact you're willing to lose on both fronts! Power and performance of the CPU and power and performance of the graphics... then you're willing to lose by getting rid of the 3 lb. MBA to get your 12-hour or more battery???
Bollocks.
A Core 2 Duo can be shrinked without losing performance.
If Apple can improve battery life on the 13" MBP, they could do it on the Air as well - without losing performance.

We absolutely have to give up either the performance or the weight and thinness to get your beloved 10+ hour battery.
10 hours is out of the question, because of the smaller battery (and the displays should draw about the same).
My point is: We do NOT have to sacrifice performance for an IMPROVEMENT in battery life.
And as I stated above: Scaling back performance is the last thing I expect Apple to do.

Option one - Intel Core i7, ULV 1.2 GHz, Intel GMA graphics, 1/2 lb. weight added... 10-hour battery.
Option two - Intel C2D, LV 2 GHz, Nvidia 320m graphics... 4/5-hour battery depending on how CPU/GPU are optimized.
Option three: Intel C2D ULV at 1.8 - 2.0GHz, GeForce 320M: Same weight, same performance - longer battery life.

AppliedMicro
Apr 16, 2010, 06:20 PM
Look at what people complain about as to why they're not buying an MBA. It has nothing to do with the battery life
The MBA is advertised by Apple as an "ultraportable".
So battery life is only a secondary consideration in an "ultraportable"?
This logic is totally beyond me.

When a company advertises similarly-sized books having twice (!) the battery life of its "ultraportables" (along with more features, better performance and a significantly lower price tag), I believe they are in some serious trouble in finding a good selling proposition for the latter.

Scottsdale
Apr 16, 2010, 09:52 PM
No. They love it because of its design and portability. While many appreciate that its power, display and keyboard is way ahead of current notebooks, power and performance is definitely NOT the primary selling point.


I absolutely don't think so. The Air is regarded as a less capable machine (performance, lack of optical drive) machine at an even higher price point than the other 13 inch machines. Which doesn't change with a HD/CPU upgrade. There is no physical way to make it as capable and powerful as the 13" MBP.


People WANT to run Windows 7 in a VM and complain that it cannot (run well), while at the same time they are NOT complaining that it cannot do what they want?

You're contradicting yourself here.

None, not a single of my customers complained about Windows 7 (in a VM) performance on the Air, let alone shied away from buying one because of it. Now this only my personal observation. But I do sell Macs for a living.


I do use the current generation MacBook Air everyday.
It has been recently cleaned by our technician, so there's no issue with dust inside.
And customers are telling me the same.


Not at all.
This goes against everything I actually wrote in my previous post.
ULV CPUs running at up to 1.6 GHz exist today.
I explicitly mentioned the Core 2 Duo SU9600, which is of course NOT based on the new Core microarchitecture.
Die-shrink the thing, and we have a winner.
Pair it with a Geforce 9400GM (or whatever), and we would be seeing improvements in battery life.

Why shouldn't Apple be able to do it?
See, that's almost exactly what Apple did with the MBP 13".
And you yourself stated it in the other thread:
Improvements in battery life on the MBP 13" are (more than anything) based on lower power draw, not on larger battery capacity.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9685498&postcount=18


Bollocks.
A Core 2 Duo can be shrinked without losing performance.
If Apple can improve battery life on the 13" MBP, they could do it on the Air as well - without losing performance.


10 hours is out of the question, because of the smaller battery (and the displays should draw about the same).
My point is: We do NOT have to sacrifice performance for an IMPROVEMENT in battery life.
And as I stated above: Scaling back performance is the last thing I expect Apple to do.


Option three: Intel C2D ULV at 1.8 - 2.0GHz, GeForce 320M: Same weight, same performance - longer battery life.


It is obvious we love the MBA because of its weight first, its thinness second, and the fact that it performs similar to a MB within those limitations to weight and size. Obviously weight and size are a GIVEN. From there, we NEED the power and performance, so it's not just a netbook. We want a real Mac that is the full-sized display and keyboard. So we're willing to pay more money to get the lower weight and thinner form factor while retaining the same footprint with full performance to meet the demands of a Mac user... not meet the netbook demands for someone surfing the web or checking their email on the go.

Is an MBA less powerful than an MB or MBP, ABSOLUTELY. Is an MBA not powerful? BS. Not even close. The MBA is more powerful (in terms of clock speed) than ANY ultraportable on the market with a 2.13 GHz CPU. But the MBP isn't more powerful than a Mac Pro nor even a real PC professional laptop, but we don't say an MBP isn't powerful just because there are more powerful computers.

You're not listening to or reading what MBA users want. If you think that 4 GB of RAM is not the number one request for people who would buy the MBA but... [list reason here], then go read some more or ask a larger percentage of the MBA market buyer.

People want 4 GB of RAM, and they want larger disk space. Most people DON'T want an optical drive. Hell, half the MBP users think the optical drive is useless as long as it's not even Blu Ray capable. You saying an optical drive is powerful is about as relevant as saying an external HDD is powerful... and certainly the MBA works fine without the optical drive or with an external optical drive. The optical drive has nothing to do with POWER. In fact, the optical drive with only CD/DVD is a dead technology and most think it's a joke that Apple still keeps it around unless it gives us Blu Ray. Even then, most MBP buyers would prefer to lose the weight and have an external optical drive when needed. The optical drive is a feature, a dead one at that, but it's nothing to do with POWER or performance.

Most people love the MBA because it's nearly as capable as an MB. It has a full-sized 13" display, and a full-sized keyboard. This means the user doesn't get less of an experience, and that the portability is in savings of weight and thinness of the MBA rather than making the user's experience inferior like a netbook! It's more powerful than any netbook out there... I have already discussed power here but one last analogy. The average Mac notebook user doesn't need more power or performance than the MBA has available, but some might need a FW port, or more screen space for photos/graphics, or more drive space than 128 GB. And they might even want an optical drive... but most people buy a MB over an MBA because it's cheaper. If the MBA were the same price, with the same specs as today, more people would buy the MBA because it's powerful enough.

You and your Windows 7 observations don't even read what the people in these forums say. Not to mention, the over 30 people I personally/professionally know with MBAs who use them for various programs and professions... I have spoken with many of these people who would love to run Windows 7 virtually on their MBA or even in boot camp. Most that don't or that have tried and failed cite lack of RAM to run it virtually and lack of drive space to run it in Boot Camp. This is obvious stuff to anyone that reads these forums, even if you don't believe my numbers the proof is just as obvious by reading threads in this forum. Go do some reading and tell me you are actually seeing something different. Seems like a bunch of speculating on your behalf. I am using actual data from colleagues and user reports right off these forums to determine what I believe are the qualities of the MBA and the problems with the MBA.

I run Windows 7 on my MBA and get about 4X the performance as OS X when using it for entertainment purposes, like Flash or HD playback. My problem, 2 GB of RAM doesn't even meet the minimum RAM requirement from OS X (1 GB) and Windows 7 (1 GB). Before you go tell me that the MBA has 2 GB of RAM, realize that 256 MB of RAM is shared right to the graphics. I have to run Windows 7 in Boot Camp because my MBA doesn't have enough RAM. And I would prefer to not have to take my 128 GB SSD and save space for Windows... so a 256 GB SSD would be greatly preferred.

You think dust inside your MBA means it has a problem? Perhaps you should clean the space around the MBA... I don't know what to say other than clean up a bit. Seeing dust inside of computers doesn't mean it's terribly flawed and running too hot and needs an ultra low voltage CPU rather than its low voltage CPU. Nice myth!

I don't know what to say about ULV over LV other than, why the hell did Apple use a low voltage SL9x00 CPU over the CULV chips to begin with? Because Apple wants us to have more than 1-1.2 GHz of power and performance. Apple could have gone that route and saved itself a lot of energy and added battery life a long time ago. Apple used the MBA to prove we can get a MB level of performance from an ultraportable. That is the competitive advantage of the MBA over other Mac notebooks and other ultraportables. It sounds like you want a Mac netbook... go buy an iPad, because that's as close as Apple will give you to a netbook!

Your bullocks statement was rather odd. We all know that a C2D can be "shrunken" down and give us the same level of clock speed for less energy. Look at the 2.13 GHz SL9600 CPU! It uses 17W vs. the MB's C2D that uses 35W, and both are giving the user clock speed capabilities close to 2 GHz. The SL9600 is saving space and energy, isn't that obvious? I don't know what you're expecting, an ultra low voltage that has better graphics than an Nvidia 320m and more clock speed than 2 GHz? It's not here yet! We all know energy requirements are one part of the performance factors. It's an offset... the more energy efficiency the less performance or much greater cost to produce the CPU (look at SL9600 17W C2D over a 35w TDP C2D at around 2 GHz). The more power, the less energy efficiency we're going to get. This is all within a range. RIGHT NOW, the Low Voltage Core i7 is at 1.2 GHz and boosts from there. It also offers a grossly inferior GMA IGP. It also doesn't allow Apple to use its preferred Nvidia GPU/chipset. Why would Apple use an SU9x00 CPU now? Why would Apple go smaller and less powerful? Why when its strategy was to keep the MBA powerful (relative, powerful enough to keep the average Mac user happy - remember Apple says people wouldn't be happy with a small Mac netbook that doesn't offer not just display and keyboard but the power to keep the OS X user happy - the chip you're talking about is contrary to Apple's statements and policy with the MBA). I believe the MBA is great power given the minimal space used to house and cool the components and the weight limit of 3 lb.

Your statement about battery is ridiculous. I am saying we ARE going to lose performance to go to your beloved SU9x00 CPUs... and if you think we aren't LOOK AT THE CLOCK SPEEDS AND PERFORMANCE DIFFERENCES OF THE TWO CHIPS! The SL9600 blows away the ultra low voltage variant. We do not get to DOUBLE the battery life to ten hours without sacrificing performance and going to the ULTRA low voltage CPU you are touting. And consider power and performance of both the CPU and GPU as a whole.

Now, you have misrepresented what I have stated... go back and read any one of my posts and see that what I state is the same every time. I am not bringing up gimmicks like there's dust in my MBA, nor am I saying we can go ultra low voltage and get the same performance and double the battery life. I am being honest about the truth of technology. We are not going to get 10 hours of battery by going to ultra low voltage CPUs without losing badly in terms of performance and capabilities of the SL9600 and Nvidia 320m.

If you think going to an SU9600 is going to give us a magical transformation, I believe you're sadly mistaken. If you believe going from 2.13 GHz down to 1.6 GHz isn't a loss in performance POTENTIAL, I believe you're sadly mistaken. If you believe going to an ultra low voltage CPU will give us a real 10-hour battery without losing performance and capabilities, I believe you're sadly mistaken.

Also remember the marketing implications of going from a 2.13 GHz MBA to a 1.6 GHz MBA. Remember all of that in the whole picture of the computer and ultraportable business. Apple factors the whole picture into its decision. We have heard and read about Apple going to ultra low voltage or CULV CPUs in the past, but Apple found an even better Penryn SL9x00 when the original Merom CPU was problematic. Apple has had chances to go SU/CULV CPUs, but it chose Penryn SL9x00!

We can gain same battery life one of a few ways, but it's not going to double the battery life to ten hours. When dealing with technology, there are sacrifices. The SL9600 has been Apple's choice to date, so thinking it's going to go backwards to a less powerful CULV CPU doesn't make sense given the facts or Apple's history or the marketing loss of going "backwards."

How about we come back the day the MBA's are updated and see what happens. I am saying we're more likely to get a C2D SL9600 and Nvidia 320m than a Core i7-6x0LM, and more likely to get a Core i7-6x0LM than a Core i7-6x0UM, and more likely to get a Core i7-6x0UM than an SU9x00 C2D. Also, if Apple would have went with an Arrandale CPU and dedicated graphics in the 13" MBP it would have been more likely to go with a Core i7-6x0UM so it could afford the TDP required from a dedicated graphics solution.

Apple can boost the performance of the current SL9600 CPU by about 30% given the same power requirements and cooling required with the Nvidia 320m. I predict we will see marketing numbers that say 30% faster with the same SL9600 CPU. And Apple will say we will get 50% to 80% graphics boost in switching to the 320m. Apple can throttle the GPU and still give us a much better all around performer focusing on closer to the 2.13 GHz clock speed of the SL9600 or running the GPU at a higher speed.

Your arguments are not very convincing. Until you can show with facts, a representative sample, and even Apple's history, that it wants to go to CULV CPUs, I am not going to buy the argument you're selling. It just doesn't add up. In addition, you're not even considering the marketing ramifications of switching to the CULV chips, let alone the performance losses of doing that.

If Apple hadn't stated that it doesn't want to be in the market you're pitching, and if Apple hadn't introduced the iPad to dominate and destroy the netbook market, maybe your theory would have some merit. However, I don't see it as happening in this market, in these times, or with this technology out there. When chips get better clock speeds and more performance characteristics with ultra low voltage variants, maybe. But right now the performance capabilities of the low voltage CPUs blow away anything CULV has to offer. One last point. Look at the Core i7 low voltage CPUs. The Core i7-640LM runs at 2.13 GHz and boosts all the way to 2.93 GHz. The Core i7-640UM runs at 1.2 GHz... where is the MBA now? and why would the MBA go backwards? end of story!

iMacmatician
Apr 16, 2010, 11:28 PM
Regarding your last paragraph to me...



Please tell me what this means? I did compare both the 9400m and the 320m. I used both numbers to explain what we have and where we could go with each set of statistics reported. I didn't just include one, as both were used in comparison. Obviously, my hypothesis is Apple used the 320m and C2D in the 13" MBP not just because it was the best choice for the MBP, but because it was the best choice for Apple's entire 13" mobility products line's chipset/components which includes the 13" MBP, 13" MB, 13" MBA, Mac mini and 21.5" iMac products.I just mentioned that because you said the ULV [GMA HD?] has 25% the performance of the 320M. Looking at the MacBook Pro, if there wasn't a 9400M successor by now, then a Core i3 + GMA HD wouldn't look as bad compared to Core 2 + 9400M than it would with a Core 2 + 320M. The arrival of the 320M as a 9400M successor means that Apple has more of a reason to stick with Core 2 for the MacBook Pro (and probably other products using the 9400M) than to go Core i3.

PAC88
Apr 17, 2010, 12:36 AM
I have a feeling that Apple will introduce a 1440x900 display in the revised MBA (probably not AG).. does anyone else beside me think this is possible ?

AppliedMicro
Apr 17, 2010, 10:17 AM
You're not listening to or reading what MBA users want. If you think that 4 GB of RAM is not the number one request for people who would buy the MBA but... [list reason here], then go read some more or ask a larger percentage of the MBA market buyer.
I talk to customers 5 days a week.
The number one reason against the MacBook Air is the price.
Almost no one showing interest in the Air talks about RAM limitations.
These people want to have a portable machine to get Web/Mail/Office work done.
They don't need 4 GB of RAM.

Having 4 GB of RAM is about power & performance.
The MacBook Air is NOT about power or performance.

Most people love the MBA because it's nearly as capable as an MB. It has a full-sized 13" display, and a full-sized keyboard. This means the user doesn't get less of an experience
Yep. But the Air does not need to equal the MBP's performance to offer a similar experience to these customers.

You and your Windows 7 observations don't even read what the people in these forums say. This is obvious stuff to anyone that reads these forums, even if you don't believe my numbers the proof is just as obvious by reading threads in this forum. Go do some reading and tell me you are actually seeing something different. Seems like a bunch of speculating on your behalf.
No - it's observation on my own behalf.
I don't think the people frequenting these forums are representative of the average Mac buyer.

Anyway... may we can cut this discussion short in regards to the 4 GB RAM. Apple's entire line (save for the entry-level Mac mini) comes with 4 GB minimum, so it's only appropriate for the MBA to follow suit.

You think dust inside your MBA means it has a problem?
Seeing dust inside of computers doesn't mean it's terribly flawed
Dust and dirt are the most common causes for thermal problems on computers, especially on notebooks. However, my MacBook Air has been professionally cleaned.

I don't know what to say about ULV over LV other than, why the hell did Apple use a low voltage SL9x00 CPU over the CULV chips to begin with?
To achieve performance similar to the earlier C2D MacBooks.
Which is just "good enough".

I don't know what you're expecting, an ultra low voltage that has better graphics than an Nvidia 320m and more clock speed than 2 GHz? It's not here yet!
Does the Air need a higher clock speed? I don't think so.
What would I like to have, what would I consider reasonable?
Same clock at lower power draw.

Why would Apple use an SU9x00 CPU now? Why would Apple go smaller and less powerful?
They wouldn't.
That's what I am saying all the time.
If a one-year old ULV runs at up to 1.6 GHz, its next generation might be on par with the current LV CPU.

We do not get to DOUBLE the battery life to ten hours without sacrificing performance and going to the ULTRA low voltage CPU you are touting.
I am being honest about the truth of technology. We are not going to get 10 hours of battery by going to ultra low voltage CPUs
We can gain same battery life one of a few ways, but it's not going to double the battery life to ten hours.
Now where did I ever make the assumption 10 hours of battery runtime would be possible on the Air (without sacrificing performance)?
Never did I.
However, I do believe the Air needs BETTER battery life.
As enlarging its form factor is not an option, Apple needs to put lower voltage parts in it.
Today's performance is just good enough.
Way better than PC netbooks, which have hardly made any progress performance-wise since their advent.

Apple can boost the performance of the current SL9600 CPU by about 30% given the same power requirements and cooling required with the Nvidia 320m. I predict we will see marketing numbers that say 30% faster with the same SL9600 CPU. And Apple will say we will get 50% to 80% graphics boost in switching to the 320m. Apple can throttle the GPU and still give us a much better all around performer focusing on closer to the 2.13 GHz clock speed of the SL9600 or running the GPU at a higher speed.
Apple just doesn't need to boost performance.
They are going to have to boost battery life.

If you think going to an SU9600 is going to give us a magical transformation, I believe you're sadly mistaken. If you believe going from 2.13 GHz down to 1.6 GHz isn't a loss in performance POTENTIAL, I believe you're sadly mistaken.
Now it's you who is misrepresenting what I stated.
Never, ever did I suggest Apple might (or should) go down in performance on the Air (e.g., by replacing the SL9400/SL9600 with a slower part). In fact, I explicitly stated just the opposite.

The SU9600 is slightly over a year old.
By now, Intel should probably be able to make a ULV part that achieves the same performance at a lower voltage

Scottsdale
Apr 18, 2010, 12:29 AM
I talk to customers 5 days a week.
The number one reason against the MacBook Air is the price.
Almost no one showing interest in the Air talks about RAM limitations.
These people want to have a portable machine to get Web/Mail/Office work done.
They don't need 4 GB of RAM.

Having 4 GB of RAM is about power & performance.
The MacBook Air is NOT about power or performance.


Yep. But the Air does not need to equal the MBP's performance to offer a similar experience to these customers.


No - it's observation on my own behalf.
I don't think the people frequenting these forums are representative of the average Mac buyer.

Anyway... may we can cut this discussion short in regards to the 4 GB RAM. Apple's entire line (save for the entry-level Mac mini) comes with 4 GB minimum, so it's only appropriate for the MBA to follow suit.


Dust and dirt are the most common causes for thermal problems on computers, especially on notebooks. However, my MacBook Air has been professionally cleaned.


To achieve performance similar to the earlier C2D MacBooks.
Which is just "good enough".


Does the Air need a higher clock speed? I don't think so.
What would I like to have, what would I consider reasonable?
Same clock at lower power draw.


They wouldn't.
That's what I am saying all the time.
If a one-year old ULV runs at up to 1.6 GHz, its next generation might be on par with the current LV CPU.


Now where did I ever make the assumption 10 hours of battery runtime would be possible on the Air (without sacrificing performance)?
Never did I.
However, I do believe the Air needs BETTER battery life.
As enlarging its form factor is not an option, Apple needs to put lower voltage parts in it.
Today's performance is just good enough.
Way better than PC netbooks, which have hardly made any progress performance-wise since their advent.


Apple just doesn't need to boost performance.
They are going to have to boost battery life.


Now it's you who is misrepresenting what I stated.
Never, ever did I suggest Apple might (or should) go down in performance on the Air (e.g., by replacing the SL9400/SL9600 with a slower part). In fact, I explicitly stated just the opposite.

The SU9600 is slightly over a year old.
By now, Intel should probably be able to make a ULV part that achieves the same performance at a lower voltage

You absolutely did say Apple could use an SU9600. In addition, I even gave you the list of Intel Core i7 CPUs available. The ultra low voltage variety is at 1 to 1.2 GHz max (they boost from there, but the boost isn't a determination of actual performance - the biggest problem is the GMA die and the 32nm CPU die share the boost performance between them whether the CPU is being requested for computing or graphics). What you're missing is that Intel changed the specs of ultra low voltage CPUs. They're now included with the GMA IGP DIE on chip. The result is about half the graphics performance of the 9400m... so doesn't even come close to comparing with 320m. Now, go to Intel.com and look up all the CPUs already released and the roadmap for the future. Either way, the low voltage chips you wanted have been changed and no longer benefit just low voltage CPU but also factor in the graphics. You're not going to get 1.6 GHz all the time... and you can go read this all over the web. Also, the Nvidia GPU/chipsets cannot be paired with the Nehalem/Arrandale CPUs.

Going back to the MBA itself and your interaction with customers... consider the ACTUAL INTENDED TARGET MARKET for the MBA. Don't think oh this guy isn't buying an MBA because it costs more. He wasn't the target in the first place. Look at the actual target market buyer and ask that person why they are or are not choosing the MBA right now. The vast majority will give you one of two reasons. Number one, I need more than 2 GB of RAM for this or that. Number two, I need more drive space than 120/128 GB. You are thinking like a salesperson selling computers to all buyers and not thinking about the logic in sales or the target market for each product. Of course the MBA isn't going to sell to someone that wants to pay $1000 for a MB. I cannot believe I am wasting my time explaining this to you.

I am done wasting my time here. If someone wants to have a serious discussion about the current aspects of the MBA, future potential of the MBA, the target market buyer for the MBA, or anything else related to the MBA I am willing to debate. But we cannot even debate when you're not willing to even look for yourself to see what Intel is no producing, and you're just guessing that ultra low voltage means a 2.4 GHz CPU now because it was at 1.6 GHz last year. Obviously you didn't say 2.4 GHz but the point is you don't bring facts to the table, you say SU chips and leave it at that. Apple doesn't have a history of using an SU chip, as it used the SL chips for obvious reasons. Could Apple use ultra low voltage in the next MBA, sure but it's not going to be a C2D SU, it will be a Core i7 and it will be a huge hit in performance down to 1.2 GHz.

I am not trying to misrepresent what you have said, but you're not very clear and your arguments are so poorly designed and stated that I have to guess as to what you mean or are intending to imply next. It's a waste... and pointless!

Go get your MBA professionally cleaned, AGAIN. Please.

AppliedMicro
Apr 18, 2010, 08:51 AM
remember with the TDP savings in the 320m GPU the CPU can be de-throttled on the SL9x00
a 30% boost in CPU from the same SL9600 by reducing the throttling, and an 80% boost in GPU over the 9400m by moving to the 320m that uses 35% less TDP than the 9400m.
Let me get this straight:
By employing a GPU with 35% lower TDP, we might be able get 30% higher CPU performance - just be un-throttling the exact same CPU?
Any evidence to back this up?

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
(Otherwise the industry's best engineering at Intel/Apple/NVIDIA would have it implemented already)

However, I do agree that C2D SL9600 / NVIDIA 320M / 4GB seems to be the most reasonable (and thus most probable?) upgrade path for the MacBook Air.

gwsat
Apr 18, 2010, 10:40 AM
Going back to the MBA itself and your interaction with customers... consider the ACTUAL INTENDED TARGET MARKET for the MBA. Don't think oh this guy isn't buying an MBA because it costs more. He wasn't the target in the first place. Look at the actual target market buyer and ask that person why they are or are not choosing the MBA right now. The vast majority will give you one of two reasons. Number one, I need more than 2 GB of RAM for this or that. Number two, I need more drive space than 120/128 GB. You are thinking like a salesperson selling computers to all buyers and not thinking about the logic in sales or the target market for each product. Of course the MBA isn't going to sell to someone that wants to pay $1000 for a MB. I cannot believe I am wasting my time explaining this to you.
Scottsdale -- I agree with your conclusion that most potential buyers who pass over the MBA do so either because of its limited 2GB of RAM or its 120 to 128Gb hard drive size. To me, the MBA is, indeed, about "power and performance." Until and unless Apple finds a way to market an MBA that can do what my 2007 Santa Rosa MBP has been able to do for two plus years, I won't be interested.

Scottsdale
Apr 19, 2010, 01:27 PM
Let me get this straight:
By employing a GPU with 35% lower TDP, we might be able get 30% higher CPU performance - just be un-throttling the exact same CPU?
Any evidence to back this up?

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
(Otherwise the industry's best engineering at Intel/Apple/NVIDIA would have it implemented already)

However, I do agree that C2D SL9600 / NVIDIA 320M / 4GB seems to be the most reasonable (and thus most probable?) upgrade path for the MacBook Air.

Absolutely. Right now, Apple is using a 2.13 GHz SL9600 in the high-end MBA. It is actually throttled. We have to assume it's throttled because Apple is trying to reduce heat and use less energy. However, a 2.13 GHz CPU is marketed as a 2.13 GHz CPU. It's not marketed as a 2.13 GHz CPU that is throttled. Apple uses the branding of a 2.13 GHz CPU as part of the sales marketing. I find it hard to believe Apple would have an easy time selling a 1.2 GHz CPU in the next MBA... especially because it's not going to be faster than the current CPU no matter how it's marketed.

The MBA is currently at 29W TDP. The SL9x00 is 17W, and the Nvidia 9400m is 12W. Let's guess that since the CPU is throttled (and so is the GPU), that the total TDP is closer to 25W. Run the SL9600 without throttling at 17W. Run the 320m without throttling at 8W, and the MBA is at 25W TDP. That is the exact same as the Core i7-640LM. So we're getting a GPU that's about 300% faster with the 320m over the GMA IGP included with the Core i7. Now, let's say Apple cannot run both the SL9600 and the 320m fully, wouldn't it choose to run the CPU fully and throttle the GPU more? We would still get a graphics improvement and a CPU speed improvement.

I see a C2D SL9600 with a 320m now giving us some decent improvements - however, the real improvements MBA buyers are looking for are 4 GB of RAM and larger drive space options. In Early 2011, I don't know what happens. But if the AMD/ATI news is correct, we get a CPU that probably will be similar to the current CPU but incredible graphics compared to what we currently have. This could be Apple's strategy to get out of the Intel Arrandale vs. Nvidia GPU/chipset battle. And in the end, I believe we will all get a better experience with AMD/ATI than we could with Intel Arrandale and Intel HD graphics. Even if the next generation Intel CPUs have double the graphics performance they're still at the same level or behind the then two-year-old graphics of the Nvidia 9400m.

I say bring on the SL9600 and 320m NOW! Give us 4 GB of RAM! Give us a 256 GB SSD or give us a 32 GB of NAND Flash space for our OS and Apps and either an HDD or SSD for the drive itself! Give us a glass trackpad! Give us something else that truly blows us away - something truly innovative and a real advantage not available in the PC alternatives!

Scottsdale
Apr 19, 2010, 01:39 PM
Scottsdale -- I agree with your conclusion that most potential buyers who pass over the MBA do so either because of its limited 2GB of RAM or its 120 to 128Gb hard drive size. To me, the MBA is, indeed, about "power and performance." Until and unless Apple finds a way to market an MBA that can do what my 2007 Santa Rosa MBP has been able to do for two plus years, I won't be interested.

Ehrm, you mean it has to have 6 GB of RAM? I don't know about that. I am hopeful for 4 GB of RAM soldered to the board. But maybe it will have two RAM slots allowing us 8 GB of RAM! That sure would be one hell of an MBA. Maybe too good.

Apple likes us to have only one or two reasons to upgrade with each update so over two updates we want to buy a new one. I see 8 GB of RAM as being an option in the update after this update, but I hope I am wrong. Let's remember, incremental improvements are the Apple way. The only time an update/upgrade happens like October 2008 is when Apple massively screwed up as it did with the original MBA, ha ha - okay it wasn't funny, I was screwed by Apple and bought an original MBA too!

So do you need a 15" display and an 8600 GT graphics too or is 6 GB of RAM or more your demand for a purchase order? I would suspect that the 320m performs similarly to the 8600? Remember Apple only supported 4 GB of RAM in that MBP. Also, 4 GB of RAM will easily allow us to allocate 2.75 GB of RAM to OS X (3 GB including 256 MB GPU VRAM), and 1 GB of RAM for Windows 7 virtually. That would be amazing coming from 2 GB of RAM total when 256 MB is shared out for the GPU.

gwsat
Apr 19, 2010, 02:10 PM
Ehrm, you mean it has to have 6 GB of RAM? I don't know about that. I am hopeful for 4 GB of RAM soldered to the board. But maybe it will have two RAM slots allowing us 8 GB of RAM! That sure would be one hell of an MBA. Maybe too good.
I would buy an MBA with only 4Gb of soldered RAM but only if if I could know to a certainty that I could run Fusion and Windows 7 in Unity mode as quickly and satisfactorily with 4Gb of RAM as well as I am able to do now with 6Gb. Unfortunately, I haven't heard anybody claim that, at least not yet. If our dreams came true and Apple made two RAM slots available in the MBA I would upgrade it to 8GB because even the 6Gb on my MBP sometimes seem marginal .

Scottsdale
Apr 19, 2010, 06:02 PM
I would buy an MBA with only 4Gb of soldered RAM but only if if I could know to a certainty that I could run Fusion and Windows 7 in Unity mode as quickly and satisfactorily with 4Gb of RAM as well as I am able to do now with 6Gb. Unfortunately, I haven't heard anybody claim that, at least not yet. If our dreams came true and Apple made two RAM slots available in the MBA I would upgrade it to 8GB because even the 6Gb on my MBP sometimes seem marginal .

I suspect you will have a much longer wait than those of us waiting for 4 GB of RAM. Apple just disappoints too often for those wanting more than a marginal update. I think 4 GB of RAM is about a 90% possibility. I believe that two RAM slots is about 15% possibility. If Apple could have fit two RAM slots in the original MBA I believe they would have already done it. In addition, the last update didn't bring 4 GB of RAM although everyone guaranteed it. It was obviously too costly to make two different boards for the MBAs, so Apple made one board and just two different CPUs. Had it been made with one RAM slot, Apple could have put 2 GB in one and 4 GB in the other... HOWEVER, one 4 GB RAM DIMM was/is awfully expensive. Because of the costs of using 2 X 2 GB RAM vs. 1 X 4 GB RAM, Apple will have to keep it soldered to the board until a major update that allows two RAM slots. It's too costly to even have one RAM slot and that's all the space allows for.

Therefore, I am now going to predict that both low-end and high-end MBAs get 4 GB of RAM in the next revision. It just makes more sense to manufacture one board than two as that's what Apple has done until now. The differences will probably be smaller vs. larger SSD and possibly an HD display in the high-end. I also see the high-end MBA going up to $1899/$1999. The price has to go up for a 256 GB SSD, and I believe the display tech could further justify this.

gwsat
Apr 19, 2010, 07:56 PM
Scottsdale -- I agree that it is far more likely Apple will only put 4Gb of soldered RAM in the revised MBA, rather than two RAM slots. The technology for ultra lightweight computers is at a clumsy stage right now. SSDs have become a requirement but are still extortionately expensive. That's going to get better, of course, and probably quickly. What all of this boils down to for me is that the appearance of an MBA that would fill my needs at a price i would be willing to pay appears unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future.

miatadan
Apr 19, 2010, 10:32 PM
Absolutely. Right now, Apple is using a 2.13 GHz SL9600 in the high-end MBA. It is actually throttled. We have to assume it's throttled because Apple is trying to reduce heat and use less energy. However, a 2.13 GHz CPU is marketed as a 2.13 GHz CPU. It's not marketed as a 2.13 GHz CPU that is throttled. Apple uses the branding of a 2.13 GHz CPU as part of the sales marketing. I find it hard to believe Apple would have an easy time selling a 1.2 GHz CPU in the next MBA... especially because it's not going to be faster than the current CPU no matter how it's marketed.

The MBA is currently at 29W TDP. The SL9x00 is 17W, and the Nvidia 9400m is 12W. Let's guess that since the CPU is throttled (and so is the GPU), that the total TDP is closer to 25W. Run the SL9600 without throttling at 17W. Run the 320m without throttling at 8W, and the MBA is at 25W TDP. That is the exact same as the Core i7-640LM. So we're getting a GPU that's about 300% faster with the 320m over the GMA IGP included with the Core i7. Now, let's say Apple cannot run both the SL9600 and the 320m fully, wouldn't it choose to run the CPU fully and throttle the GPU more? We would still get a graphics improvement and a CPU speed improvement.

I see a C2D SL9600 with a 320m now giving us some decent improvements - however, the real improvements MBA buyers are looking for are 4 GB of RAM and larger drive space options. In Early 2011, I don't know what happens. But if the AMD/ATI news is correct, we get a CPU that probably will be similar to the current CPU but incredible graphics compared to what we currently have. This could be Apple's strategy to get out of the Intel Arrandale vs. Nvidia GPU/chipset battle. And in the end, I believe we will all get a better experience with AMD/ATI than we could with Intel Arrandale and Intel HD graphics. Even if the next generation Intel CPUs have double the graphics performance they're still at the same level or behind the then two-year-old graphics of the Nvidia 9400m.

I say bring on the SL9600 and 320m NOW! Give us 4 GB of RAM! Give us a 256 GB SSD or give us a 32 GB of NAND Flash space for our OS and Apps and either an HDD or SSD for the drive itself! Give us a glass trackpad! Give us something else that truly blows us away - something truly innovative and a real advantage not available in the PC alternatives!

Scottsdale - I would agree with what you have said here as well, for me it would be nice if hard drive was not the 1.8" size but normal 2.5" size and 9 mm height allowing more choices of upgrading the SSD. Another concern for me in general is that OS X does not yet support TRIM in SSD's ( which from I read in most forums is needed for peak performance over long term in SSD's ).

In the least as you stated 4 GB of RAM is needed.

Dan

Mhkobe
Apr 20, 2010, 01:04 AM
I would really like to thank scottsdale to start off, everything I read on this site posted by you seams great.

Before the iPad was announced I had an idea that the MBA would cannibalize the basic macbook... this was wrong. I do, however, believe that apple is still looking to move all their products to ARM (everyone dreams of ripping my head off and drinking my blood). Apple loves control, and they love to be secretive and unpredictable: Intel gives them no control, is very open about their roadmap, and lastly are playing bully to nvidia.

Lets face it, the only thing good about amd is ati, if I were to buy a pc with an amd core I would get it with an ati card not nvidia. Intel is making it very difficult for companies to continue to use nvidia's cards, and are therefore they are taking away control from apple.

Apple doesn't want to go with amd because they have badly underpowered cards for their power consumption. For obvious reasons apple wouldn't go back to IBM and power pc. They really only have one more choice: ARM.

ARM will give them an excellent control, and will allow apple to truly develop a new product; a high power ARM processor for desktop use. Of course none of this will happen tomorrow or the next day or in 2010, or 2012, but I am sure it is coming.

Scottsdale
Apr 20, 2010, 03:18 AM
I would really like to thank scottsdale to start off, everything I read on this site posted by you seams great.

Before the iPad was announced I had an idea that the MBA would cannibalize the basic macbook... this was wrong. I do, however, believe that apple is still looking to move all their products to ARM (everyone dreams of ripping my head off and drinking my blood). Apple loves control, and they love to be secretive and unpredictable: Intel gives them no control, is very open about their roadmap, and lastly are playing bully to nvidia.

Lets face it, the only thing good about amd is ati, if I were to buy a pc with an amd core I would get it with an ati card not nvidia. Intel is making it very difficult for companies to continue to use nvidia's cards, and are therefore they are taking away control from apple.

Apple doesn't want to go with amd because they have badly underpowered cards for their power consumption. For obvious reasons apple wouldn't go back to IBM and power pc. They really only have one more choice: ARM.

ARM will give them an excellent control, and will allow apple to truly develop a new product; a high power ARM processor for desktop use. Of course none of this will happen tomorrow or the next day or in 2010, or 2012, but I am sure it is coming.

I completely agree with your ARM assessments.

People always reply saying oh Apple won't get an X86 license or this or that when I say Apple will make their own CPUs. Then I mention I mean an ARM SoC design, and people really go crazy to that prophecy, LOL.

In reality, it's obvious to see Apple wants complete control of its Macs. In Apple's perfect world, people will not see or read the Intel CPU is a 2.13 GHz, SL9600 with 6 MB L2 cache. Apple wants the user to read, our fastest Mac ever that runs all of your apps and games flawlessly in the thinnest and lightest Mac ever.

I definitely believe the long-term strategy will be to move the Mac to a custom Apple A(X) ARM CPU. It will definitely be a SoC design with a lot of cores (like 32 or 64 cores). It will have an OS and apps meant solely to capitalize on multiple processes or spreading the OS/app workload out to many cores. The software will be truly made to take advantage of every bit of resource available.

I cannot wait for the OS that runs on a truly optimized SoC design by Apple. It should be incredible especially when apps are written specifically to take advantage of all of the capabilities designed by each chip Apple would use for each specific set of tasks that would be required from the Mac using each chip.