*WWDC Macbook Air Rev D Update Thread* (if it happens) 7-11 June 2010. Likely specs?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Jobsian, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Jobsian

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    #1
    We now know WWDC is 7-11 June 2010 (contrary to earlier estimates of a late June WWDC). Apple didn't even touch the Air during the recent Macbook Pro updates. I hope they're planning a massive revamp, to be unveiled at WWDC, but even a minor spec update would do me (that darn RAM!).

    I'm probably going to use this thread to post rumors/leaks as well as for when WWDC actually starts!

    I'm going to give 2 scenarios in order of likelihood:

    1) Minor, silent, update:
    • Current Design
    • 4 GB RAM
    • 320m Nvidia or even no non-integrated GPU
    • Same Intel Core 2 Duo, less throttle
    • 192GB SSD
    Nothing else. Even with this update, I'll probably buy it on Day 1.


    2) A more major revision - perhaps introduced by Jobs as a "and one more thing" moment :D
    • Current or new design with better cooling
    • 4GB RAM, Maybe 6GB high end
    • Low TDP Nvidia or ATI GPU
    • Core i7 680UM processor - ULV 1.46GHz, Turbo to 2.53GHz
    • 256GB SSD
    • Glass trackpad
    • Better battery technology like the MBP
    • +/- IPS Screen
    • +/- USB 3.0
    Ok this is the update I want. I would literally buy this in an instant if this were to be announced. The difference between this one and the MBA above is that for this one I'd cancel any engagement I had on release day and wake up early to be at the Apple store well before opening time. For the MBA above this one, I wouldn't go as out of my way and would probably get it in the evening or on the weekend if there's any timetable clash.


    The Core i7 680UM
    The key for me here is the recently rumored Intel Core i7 680UM processor.

    Why is this processor the key? I've had a rethink on my previous wishes for MBA. Previously I (and many others here) wished for Intel's LV (not ULV) Core i7 640LM which has a base clock of 2.13GHz and Turbos to 2.93GHz. But after reading about, and experiencing the realities of the new 32nm processes, I have to say they're still hotter than I would have hoped.

    This Core i7 640LM 2.93GHz Turbo that we used to dream about is 25W TDP but I guess would just be too hot for the type of surfing I like to do on ultraportables, namely lap, bed and sofa-surfing...it would literally transform the MBA chassis into a kiln!

    This, combined with the fact that I do not need the full grunt of the Intel processor the vast majority of the time means that the 1.46GHz (remember still Core i tech and not Atom) will be perfectly sufficient. If I ever need to do some video edit/encodes etc, well I'll just set this on the hardtop table and fire away its 2.53GHz Turbo.

    Th 1.46GHz i7 is ULV and only 18W TDP. I used to despise ULV chips because of how underpowered they are but this is on another level, especially with 2.53GHz Turbo. It only has 4MB L3 Cache (2 less than current Air chips) but it's more than i5 and i3 Arrandales (3MB) and it has Core i7 architecture (increased clock-per-clock performance compared with C2D).

    Finally, we'll get that battery bump that we've wanted on the Air without having to compromise on the weight of extra battery! The 2.93GHz Turbo i7 would devour the battery.

    I'm now really hoping Apple get early stock of this CPU and put them in an updated Air (the CPUs are rumored for a "Fall" release).

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #2
    I don't think we will see the i7 at this time because it can't be paired with the 320M. It's either i7+intel HD or C2D+320M. If the new 13" MBP is any indication, it will be the C2D+320M.

    Best I can speculate for when we will see an i7 in the 13" computers (Air and Pro) is the next revision, after Apple has had time to redesign the logic boards. At that time, I'd also speculate that the Air will be redesigned to accommodate the changes.
     
  3. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    There can't be more than 4GB of DDR3 unless Apple adds another RAM slot. There are no bigger than 4GB SODIMM DDR3 modules
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jobsian

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    #4
    True I forgot about that, my mistake.

    Maybe then one of the low TDP ATIs a possibility?
     
  5. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #5
    You have a major problem with your major redesign option. With the Arrandale CPUs, Apple cannot use an Nvidia GPU/chipset. I believe the past tells us Apple will use the same setup as is used in the 13" MBP, unless Apple forgoes an update for the MBA at this time.

    An update later would definitely lose the C2D CPUs because Intel is done making them at the end of 2010. That means Nvidia GPU/chipset is not an option at that time. That leaves us with an Intel HD graphics option and Intel chipset, or AMD CPU/graphics, or even a dedicated graphics solution which is almost not even a possibility especially if Apple couldn't put one in the 13" MBP.

    I still think we're at 80% for an MBA update before or at WWDC with the same C2D CPU, 320m GPU/chipset, 4 GB RAM in both models, 128 GB SSD low-end, 192/256 GB SSD high-end, glass trackpad, and possibly IPS HD display.

    I am not looking forward to a "big" update as I fear it will mean Core i7-640UM or even Core i7-640LM with sole use of Intel's GMA IGP. I don't see that as a win-win for any MBA user who needs graphics performance or who expects to use their MBA as a primary Mac. The fear I have is Apple trying to get ten hours of battery on its Mac notebooks. I don't want a 10-hour battery because it will come at a huge cost to performance as Apple isn't going to add weight or thickness to the MBA. I say this is a 20% possibility and will happen at WWDC or later. It could be that Apple even moves away from Intel with the MBA first. An update anytime after WWDC could lead down that path.

    The real money is still on Apple using one basic strategy for all five Macs I have mentioned many times... the 13" MBP, MB, MBA, Mac mini, and 21.5" iMac all use the same basic configuration in terms of CPU, GPU/chipset, and etc. Apple made a successful MBA when it got rid of Intel GMA and used the same strategy across all five of these Mac products. I have to believe it will stick with what works. In addition, I believe an update now would make a lot of sense with these same configurations across all five products. I see updates to the iMacs, Mac mini, MB, and MBA all before or at WWDC.

    I am looking for the update now. I want Apple to just give us the GPU upgrade, de-throttle the CPU, give us more RAM, a better SSD, glass trackpad, and maybe an IPS display. I am fearful that the big update will get away from an MBA that is capable of being MY Primary Mac.

    Late last September, I learned of an inside FACT that lead me to believe Apple will eventually go ultra low voltage in the MBA. I had hoped that if Apple did that at least we would get a dedicated graphics card for our loss in CPU capabilities. With the recent 13" MBP update, I have to believe Apple will not go forward with any dedicated graphics for any of the five Macs that use the same base configuration. Even if the 13" MBP had an Nvidia 310m with 256 MB vRAM, we could have had some hope that Apple might give us a dedicated card in the MBA.

    Now ultra low voltage seems fine for the CPU, IF we can get similar performance from the CPU (around 1.6 GHz boosting to over 2 GHz) and we get a tremendous graphics boost and a dedicated card at that. It would really make sense for Apple to use AMD graphics as they use such low energy compared to Nvidia in dedicated graphics.

    With Apple sticking with Nvidia, not moving forward with Core i-in the 13" MBP, not using dedicated graphics in the 13" MBP, AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY, Apple trying to get a 10-hour battery in the 13" MBP, I believe the MBA is in serious trouble with its next update beyond C2D and Nvidia GPU.

    I just hope we get one more MBA with a C2D and Nvidia 320m and the updates we have wanted for two years... that would allow me to be happy for two years. It would give Apple time to figure out how to make the MBA just as capable while reducing the CPU voltage and using a graphics solution.

    I vote for an MBA with the same case -
    2.13 GHz Penryn C2D (de-throttled)
    320m Nvidia GPU
    4 GB RAM (probably soldered to the board) but two RAM slots would be great
    256 GB SSD
    glass trackpad
    IPS display
    USB 3.0 (no real hope for it)

    I believe an update beyond WWDC will skip the last C2D MBA with Nvidia GPU. That update will probably disappoint those of us who want to use the MBA as our primary Mac as it will probably use only the Intel GMA HD for graphics. I sure hope Apple has one last Nvidia-based GPU/chipset for us!

    ***BATTERY DISCLAIMER***
    Oh, and I don't want a 10-hour battery nor a true 7-hour battery as that will mean the end of the MBA as we know/love it. We simply cannot get those battery capabilities without seriously losing CPU/graphics performance to a Core i7-640UM with only Intel GMA HD, and probably adding weight to the MBA with a denser battery. So if people want a 10-hour MBA they can have it labeled as a 13" MBP. That is truly the difference in the 13" MB/MBP vs. the MBA, the weight and size of the battery is limited by the small thin case of the MBA with a goal of a 3 lb. Mac. We are all going to LOSE BIG to get even a 7-hour battery. I would prefer we get a true 5-hour battery by slightly modifying the battery with the flat cells and keeping the size, shape, and weight exactly the same.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    #6
    The memory is soldered onto the motherboard as 16x1Gb (small b) chips 8 per side yielding 2GB (big b) of RAM. Apple could easily move to using 2Gb or (gasp) 4Gb DDR3 chip (these were announced quite a while ago). My only sense is that the 1Gb ones are dirt cheap and help with the profit margin -- unless it would require more power or the large capacity chips are physically larger requiring a complete reworking of the mobo.
     
  7. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Location:
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    #7
    either on 18.May or 8.June the refreshments will appear and we will all - well most of us anyways - be pleasantly surprised :rolleyes:
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Huubster

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    #8
    Well, good point, seems everybody has developed a certain frustration during the (too) long wait.
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #9
    Ahh so MBA has no individual RAM module but it has integrated small chips (same as found in modules), right? It just lacks the module i.e. upgradeability?
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    #10
    That is correct.
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

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    #11
    I agree. Apple's infuriating delay in updating the MBA has made those of us who have been waiting a little testy. I suspect that if we get a significant upgrade, which alas is not a given, all of our moods will improve dramatically.:)
     
  12. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
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    #12
    We have essentially been waiting since October 2008... the June 2009 "update" was just a swap of the high-end CPU since Intel moved to the SL9600 at 2.13 GHz and a very nice $700 price drop. I really believed that we were going to get the "real" update in October/November 2009... and we're still waiting.

    To me it seems obvious Apple really wants to stick with Nvidia and C2D as long as it can. Since Intel is going to stop making C2D CPUs at the end of 2010, I really believe Apple will give the MBA the same update to the 320m GPU/chipset soon. If Apple gives the MBA nothing more than the 320m, 4 GB RAM, and at least a 192 GB SSD, I believe it could double the MBA's best sales sales half-year ever and at a price tag of $1999. When I read or hear why a potential MBA buyer didn't buy, it's almost always the RAM or drive space... and not the money, CPU, or GPU (I am talking potential MBA buyers not MB buyers who want low cost).

    It just makes a lot of sense to bump the MBA and keep MBA fans somewhat happy as it has been a long wait. I then think we will get a "major" update and a new design in Early 2011. By that time, Intel will have new CPUs with double the graphics capabilities, faster ultraportables, and a better selection of better suited CPUs. In addition, Apple could use AMD and ATI or even just use a dedicated ATI solution along with Intel CPUs. I believe that when Apple pursues a different strategy it will not mimic the new MBPs. I cannot believe Apple is happy with the Arrandale MBPs. The graphics are terrible, the Intel chipset and GMA IGP are a train wreck. We could see the new "Airized" MBPs in Early 2011 with LightPeak, less the optical drives and a new chipset strategy.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

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    #13
    I have never worried about the prospect of having to pay a premium for an MBA. Its elegant design and SSD would make it well worth its price but for its maddening RAM limitation. Ah, well, hope springs eternal, although I hope that I don't have to be institutionalized while I'm still waiting for Apple to refresh the MBA.:)
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Location:
    Orlando
    #14
    I see the MBA was last updated in June 09. Was this also during the WWDC? If so, perhaps it is a trend Apple is starting?:confused:

    If it does gt updated with the same specs as the 13 MBP, do you think they will raise the price?
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jobsian

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    #15
    Hmm good observation, it must have been, or at least around the time, anyone remember whether it was announced at WWDC?

    Another point, no-one has discussed the idea of the ULV 18W TDP Core i7 680UM 1.46GHz 2.53GHz Turbo as discussed in the OP. I'm warming to it much more than to the LV 25W TDP i7 640LM for the reasons I discussed. I believe we'd see performance gains, battery gains, cooling...gains, especially with a low W TDP GPU.

    Scottsdale, Gswat et al?
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

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    #16
    As nice as it would be, it appears to me that the ULV Core i7, or any other Arrandale chip, is a nonstarter because Apple would be unable to use an NVIDIA GPU with it. At least that's what the big boys seem to be saying.:)
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #17
    A major computer manufacturer like Apple certainly wasn't caught off guard by the licensing dispute between Intel and nVidia, so it's had plenty of time to come up with a viable long-term strategy.

    My take on the situation is this:

    Given that Apple relies so heavily on the GPU going forward, I can't see them using Intel only right now unless Intel starts supporting some of the technologies in OS X. That means that they have to use a 3rd party GPU in their machines.

    Switching to AMD seems somewhat odd. I'm not sure what they have coming up that will compete with Intel, and I'm not sure they have the manufacturing capability to meet Apple's demands (given Scottsdale's excellent 5-product platform theory).

    Going back to what I said originally, though, Apple has known that this day was going to come, when they'd have to deal with the licensing issue between nVidia and Intel. I think Apple will eventually move back to dedicated graphics across all lines, you know, the way it was before the Intel transition. I also agree that, at this time, a dedicated card in the Air is unlikely given the new w13" MBP. There isn't enough room for a dedicated chip in these models yet. However, a logic board/case redesign for some models could be in the cards and would allow Apple to have power and performance.

    (After RTFT: Honestly, though, it could be a space reason or a thermal one. If it's thermal, then a switch to the 680UM might be an eventual solution.)
     
  18. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Location:
    HK
    #18
    Is MBA design its waterloo ?

    I guess the boast of the slimmest laptop ever has caught Apple's B@LL5 in a knot.:apple:

    To make it functionally viable.....in the future making the laptop a bit thicker is not an option as it kind of implies that design was wrong in the first place !:eek:

    A decent capacity Hard Disk/SSD and a graphics chip and changeable RAM are already an issue. Add to that the heat of the i3/5/7 chips and the already smoldering aluminum design ... and you have the heat of hell on your laps !

    The design is beautiful and desirable... but is it becoming the reason of its own future functional limitation ?

    I would hope Apple would surprise us all and prove us wrong, I love everything about the MBA but the future doesn't look bright !

    Just my 2 cents
     
  19. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

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    Finland
    #19
    If they make it bigger, it would be same as discontinuing it... It's only advantage over MacBook (Pro) is its size, so to make it comparable, it has to be made even smaller
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #20
    I've often thought that when/if Apple redesigns the Air, they'd drop the taper. They could conceivably make the thickest point a bit thinner (possibly down to 1.5-1.6cm). At the very least, apple could spread a few things out for heat dissipation, maybe add a second USB port and a second speaker, a larger battery, and user-upgradable RAM (or some combination).

    It may add some weight, but if they keep it less than 3.3 lbs, I don't really see it being that much of an issue.
     
  21. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

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    #21
    IMO it would kill the whole Air. All who buys it knows that they are making sacrifices for the extra portability it gives. For most people the 13" MacBook (Pro) is portable enough so I don't really get it why Air should be made bigger and heavier as it might lose its small market due that
     
  22. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

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    #22
    I think you might be on to something. If Apple could add real RAM slots, give us a cooler running machine, and longer battery life, by giving the MBA a slightly thickened form factor and a 10 percent, or less, weight increase, I would be tempted to buy it. Finally I agree with your observation that as beautifully designed, and remarkably thin and light, as the MBA is, Apple really does seem to have painted itself into a corner with it.
     
  23. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #23
    I'm definitely not saying that they should make it bigger (I suppose it could be larger by volume, but not dimensionally), and I'm only saying it might be justified being slightly heavier if we gained a lot in return.
     
  24. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #24
    I think you're all wrong to assess the MBA as being too thin. Apple has used a Core 2 Duo Penryn CPU, Nvidia GPU, 128 GB SSD, and DDR3 RAM in an MBA that is its current thickness and at its current weight. If Apple can make the current V 2,1 MBA with these specs work wonderfully, how has it gone too thin? I just don't think people are being realistic to expect 10 hours of battery life with an MBA that's this thinness and this weight. So if people want a 10-hour MBA they can buy it labeled as a 13" MBP. Honestly, the way to make the MBA a 10-hour Mac is to make it the thickness and weight of the 13" MBP.

    Now, moving forward the issue is that Intel has added the GMA IGP die to the CPU itself, Apple is forced to buy an Intel GMA which is THE PROBLEM. The Intel graphics are less than half as capable as a 9400m, and that's the nearly two-year-old version of the 320m which provides 80 percent more than the 9400m. The real problem here is the benefit of using Intel CPUs goes away when its sub-capable GMA is included with it. Even the 15/17" MBP users are getting far inferior graphics to the 13" MBP/MB/MBA when they're running the Intel HD GMA. Someone said this in a 13" MBP post, and it's true; the Intel HD GMA might "sip" the battery but its performance is so poor that for the average tasks that just uses the Intel HD GMA for graphics, the 15/17" MBP is at a disadvantage.

    I really believe the problem here is Intel being a big bully when it cannot compete so it just forced the competition, Nvidia, out of the GPU/chipset market with all future Intel CPUs beyond C2D. All Intel did is move around the exact same pieces of the system by moving from chipset to CPU, and then it voided Nvidia's license. Until Intel is forced to allow Nvidia back in, Apple is STUCK using Intel CPUs with inferior HD GMA OR migrating to AMD.

    I don't believe any of this means the problem is the MBA's thinness or weight, unless one requires Apple to make a 10-hour battery in the MBA. But then the people wanting such a battery are going to lose so much in terms of CPU clock speed of an ultra low voltage CPU and Intel HD GMA graphics. To me none of that is a fair tradeoff. Where I think Apple went WRONG was ever bragging about a 10-hour battery in the MBP. All that means is Apple is adding a lot of weight and thickness to the MBP, and add to that a pointless optical drive.

    Apple should be able to improve the MBA without thickening it or adding weight to it. We're in an era of technology, and we should be expecting IMPROVEMENTS. The problem is the monopolist doesn't offer an improvement, and that's the Big Dog way. The bigger problem here is that customers have been SOLD the idea that a faster CPU is everything when that's not the case. With Intel Core i-series CPUs come terribly inferior graphics and Macs that cannot aspire to be better than the Macs before them. I don't know how one can say Apple went too thin with the MBA, as it did it 18 months ago and has achieved greatness with this mix of CPU/GPU, thickness and weight. I say the problem is the Big Dog bullying out competition, and as always the end user is the one who ALWAYS LOSES when a monopolist pushes out competition... competition drives better products for all of us, and the problem Apple has with the MBA is the loss of competition from its suppliers.
     
  25. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

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    #25
    Scottsdale -- First, I agree that a 10 hour battery probably isn't in the cards for the MBA, even if Apple should opt to make it slightly thicker and heavier. It would be nice, though, if there were a way to increase its very limited 5 hour battery to 7 or 8 hours. Obviously, though, if that would require increasing the MBA's weight significantly, Apple probably wouldn't do it, and shouldn't in my humble opinion.

    My primary point of concern with the MBA, as you know, is its hardwired 2Gb of RAM. Frankly, I don't think even 4Gb of hardwired RAM would be enough to convince me to buy one. If RAM slots could be included, though, even at the expense of a slightly thicker, heavier computer, I would almost certainly buy one. All of this gets back to what we see over and over again in laptop design. Everything is a compromise, with the need for thinness and lightness battling with the need for power. Every time I contemplate this dilemma I come to the same conclusion: there is no free lunch.
     

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