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Old Jan 17, 2008, 06:55 PM   #1
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Intel's Custom Processor for MacBook Air



Anandtech pieces together what processor Apple is using from Intel for the new MacBook Air, and concludes that Intel did provide Apple with a custom solution to be able to launch the thin laptop.
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The CPU in the MacBook Air is a 65nm Merom based Core 2 Duo, with a 4MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB and runs at either 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz. The packaging technology used for this CPU is what makes it unique; the CPU comes in a package that was originally reserved for mobile Penryn due out in the second half of 2008 with the Montevina SFF Centrino platform. Intel accelerated the introduction of the packaging technology specifically for Apple it seems.
The details of the processor technology may not be of interest to most, but that Intel would take special steps to accommodate Apple is interesting. In the past, Apple has previously gained early access to certain Intel processors for use in its Mac Pro.

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Old Jan 17, 2008, 06:56 PM   #2
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Wow, what a great relationship Apple and Intel have! This is great for the future of Apple's dedicated creative consumer base.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:00 PM   #3
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Hehe... I wonder how hot the thing is going to run.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:04 PM   #4
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The 2nd half of 2008? I sure hope Intel and Apple's relationship is good enough to deliver a new MBP sooner than that!
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:04 PM   #5
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The strange thing is Apple's MBA developer tech note implies the processor has SSE4. If that is true this isn't a Merom based part. However the document doesn't seem self consistent ("SSSE4" for example) so I reported this to Apple... lets see if they correct the document. It seems like they lifted text from the Mac Pro tech-note but forgot to remove aspects of it that aren't correct and/or lifted text from a MBP tech-note, etc.

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The microprocessor in the MacBook Air is an Intel Core 2 Duo with the following features:

1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo microprocessor
Optional 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo microprocessor
4 MB shared, on-chip L2 cache
Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost
Connection to the North Bridge over an 800 MHz frontside bus
Supports Intel 64 Architecture
See the Intel Core 2 Duo Processors support site for detailed microprocessor documentation.

Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost accelerates data manipulation by applying a single instruction to multiple data at the same time, known as SIMD processing. SIMD technology accelerates vector math operations and floating-point calculations. Advanced Digital Media Boost supports Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) versions 1, 2, 3, and 4 and allows the processor to execute most 128-bit instructions every clock cycle.

For information on Advanced Digital Media Boost, refer to Technology@Intel Magazine.

Intel 64 Architecture increases the linear address space for software to 64 bits and supports physical address space up to 40 bits. The technology also introduces a new operating mode referred to as IA-32e mode. IA-32e mode operates in one of two sub-modes:

Compatibility mode enables a 64-bit operating system to run most legacy 32-bit software unmodified
64-bit mode enables a 64-bit operating system to run applications written to access 64-bit address space
In the 64-bit mode, applications may access:

64-bit flat linear addressing
8 additional general-purpose registers (GPRs)
8 additional registers for streaming SIMD extensions (SSE, SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE4)
64-bit-wide GPRs and instruction pointers
Uniform byte-register addressing
Fast interrupt-prioritization mechanism
New instruction-pointer relative-addressing mode
An Intel 64 Architecture processor supports existing IA-32 software because it is able to run all non-64-bit legacy modes supported by IA-32 architecture. Most existing IA-32 applications also run in compatibility mode.
http://developer.apple.com/documenta...loperNote.html

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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:05 PM   #6
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Coming soon - permanent "intel inside" motifs on the new MacBook Pros.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4God View Post
Wow, what a great relationship Apple and Intel have! This is great for the future of Apple's dedicated creative consumer base.
yes it is great. looks like an upgrade to the macbook air at the end of this year also.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:06 PM   #8
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I agree the custom service is a notable asset to both firms. It also bodes well for iPhone 2!

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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:06 PM   #9
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SSSE4 is looking more like a typo. It's more then likely a Merom now.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjohn101 View Post
The 2nd half of 2008? I sure hope Intel and Apple's relationship is good enough to deliver a new MBP sooner than that!
Actually I believe Montevina is targeted for May which isn't 2nd half 08. Note some mobile Penryns are "available" now (announced Jan 6th) while more will come out in May (higher clocked parts) along with the Montevina platform (depend on).

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Originally Posted by Eidorian View Post
SSSE4 is looking more like a typo. It's more then likely a Merom now.
Yeah it is a typo but did they mean to type SSE4 or SSSE3 (the later is the SSE3 supplemental extension added in the Merom). Note the block of text also states SSE 1, 2, 3, and 4 but that blocks looks like text from the Mac Pro tech note.

/me confused

Last edited by Rower_CPU; Jan 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM. Reason: post merge - please use muitlquote
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Shacklebolt View Post
Hehe... I wonder how hot the thing is going to run.
Wondering that was one reason I went for the SSD config. Should help some. Otherwise I guess it can double as a tortilla griddle.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:15 PM   #12
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I'm sort of surprised it doesn't use underclocked 45nm Penryns, but I guess Intel wasn't far enough along with Penryn in time for MWSF. Oh well, there's always the 2nd gen...
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:15 PM   #13
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The MBP will likely get Penryn CPUs as soon as they are available (probably in a few weeks, but there are reports that Intel has postponed them due to bugs). They'll go on the the same Santa Rosa chipset as the current Meroms. The Montevina chipset is scheduled to replace Santa Rosa in May.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnce View Post
Yeah it is a typo but did they mean to type SSE4 or SSSE3 (the later is the SSE3 supplemental extension added in the Merom). Note the block of text also states SSE 1, 2, 3, and 4 but that blocks looks like text from the Mac Pro tech note.

/me confused
I feel the same way. We'll just need to wait for someone to install Windows on it so we can learn every little thing about it.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnce View Post
Yeah it is a typo but did they mean to type SSE4 or SSSE3 (the later is the SSE3 supplemental extension added in the Merom). Note the block of text also states SSE 1, 2, 3, and 4 but that blocks looks like text from the Mac Pro tech note.

/me confused
Anandtech doesn't seem to have any special sources and is mostly doing guesswork. At this point, I'd have to assume the Apple Tech Note is correct and that it does support SSE4, making it some kind of proto-penryn.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by 4God View Post
Wow, what a great relationship Apple and Intel have! This is great for the future of Apple's dedicated creative consumer base.
People it is all money. You think intel did this because they like apples shiny new products?? Apple must ahve paid and I mean paid some serious cahs millions and millions for intel to do this.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:23 PM   #17
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I love Intel and i love Apple
and I love that they love each other
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:25 PM   #18
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It should actually run at the same temp I think, as it's exactly the same die just on a smaller package.

I wonder how much it cost them to develop.. hopefully they'll find another use for it rather than just suffering from the Air's reasonably likely flop.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocketman View Post
I agree the custom service is a notable asset to both firms. It also bodes well for iPhone 2!

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Maybe the Air will get a serious price drop like the iPhone?
For $900, I would actually buy one.

Still, knowing Apple has leverage to make pressure on Intel, that's going to be great for us customers. Now get those silicon batteries going and SSD cheaper and on a few years, you got some damn fine mobile computer.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:28 PM   #20
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looks like intel is favoring the apple market over the pc market lately... i hope that intel continues there relationship with apple... maybe there will start to be exclusive apple chips to come
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:31 PM   #21
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looks like intel is favoring the apple market over the pc market lately... i hope that intel continues there relationship with apple... maybe there will start to be exclusive apple chips to come
Ever since Dell started using (some) AMD chips, Apple is the last big all-Intel maker. I'm sure this fact is not lost on Intel.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:31 PM   #22
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:32 PM   #23
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I got a treat last night in listening to Intel's Enterprise Director. He basically told us that all the stuff we are seeing from Intel right now dealing with Apple is nothing new, it's all current technology that Intel already had. Then he got really excited and told us that the stuff they have been working on from the ground up with Apple is what will blow people's minds. He had a sly grin for a moment that was a little bit like a kid in a candy shop kind of look.

Basically, I'm buying lots of stock right now.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:32 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iSee View Post
Anandtech doesn't seem to have any special sources and is mostly doing guesswork. At this point, I'd have to assume the Apple Tech Note is correct and that it does support SSE4, making it some kind of proto-penryn.
Given the information in the tech note about the chipset and processor features I believe Anandtech is correct that this is Merom based and Apple's tech note has some incorrect information mixed into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudane View Post
It should actually run at the same temp I think, as it's exactly the same die just on a smaller package.
Same temp as what? These run a lower clock and voltage then the processors used in Apple's other laptops. As a result they have a lower thermal output despite any packaging used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudane View Post
I wonder how much it cost them to develop.. hopefully they'll find another use for it rather than just suffering from the Air's reasonably likely flop.
The packaging is likely what was planned for the small form factor Penryns planned for 2H 2008.
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Old Jan 17, 2008, 07:33 PM   #25
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Intel seem to do anything to please Apple these days. It's somewhat strange...

Maybe they just want to make sure Apple don't move to AMD since Apple's brand is helping push Intel?
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