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Intel Update: MacBook Airs Get Penryn, MacBooks and Pros Get Montevina Benefits

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Intel's processor and chipset codenames have long been a source of confusion, and the adoption of NVIDIA's chipset in the newest MacBooks and MacBook Pros won't help matters.

One of the updates that had been long anticipated for the late 2008 MacBook and MacBook Pro updates has been the adoption of Intel's Montevina platform. This topic got lost with all the recent rumors of hardware redesigns and the adoption of NVIDIA's chipsets.

Despite Apple's migration to NVIDIA chipsets, Apple has still adopted the key advantages of the Montevina platform. This primarily includes a 1066MHz front side bus and the latest Penryn processors. How much of a difference (if any) the higher bus speeds have will have to wait for side-by-side benchmark testing, though the graphics performance of the new NVIDIA GPUs should give the new notebooks a clear graphical advantage.

This likely doesn't change anything for future planning as Apple will certainly adopt Intel's upcoming Nehalem processors over time. Nehalem is expected to offer a dramatic performance boost over existing processors. These next-generation Intel processors will be first launched for servers in Q4 2008, and come to desktop and mobile platforms in 2009.

Meanwhile, Intel confirms that Apple has quietly replaced the processors in the MacBook Air with the latest 45nm Penryn processors.
But new Intel processors did make a debut in the refresh of the MacBook Air. Instead of the Small-Form-Factor (SFF) 65-nanometer Merom chips, Apple has gone with with the more advanced 45-nanometer Penryn SSF processor. Penryn chips typically boast either 3MB or 6MB of cache memory versus the 2MB or 4MB that the older mobile procesors offer. (Cache memory speeds performance.)
The MacBook Air's processors now carry 6MB of cache memory (up from 3MB) and use a more power-efficient design. Apple had previously been using a custom 65-nm Merom chip. Any power savings from the new processors, however, may be offset by the adoption of the NVIDIA graphics card as Apple has not advertised any benefits to the change.


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chewbaccacabra

macrumors regular
Mar 20, 2008
185
0
Nice info on the AIR. The 1.8/128GB SSD AIR . . . probably the only laptop I would buy out of todays update. Love my 1.6/80 *most* of the time. ;)
 
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emigrand

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2008
2
0
I would not expext Nahalem to arive befor late 2009 into Macs...

I just called Apple Support line to ask about a full spec of machine but ... THEY did not KNOW :mad: about a processor model and if Hybrid SLI work in new MAc BOOK Pros.

So I am asking you, will it ??

The other thing is people are complaing about Pros to be not for Pros any more. People it still is a Pro machine. Just think about 4GB of DDR3 and what boost you get out of it !!

Glossy display, ok it is crap but glossy LED dispaly is not that bad even for pro desigers !!

Overall I think it is a good update in a line...
 
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Malooga

macrumors member
Sep 17, 2008
30
0
Dallas, TX
Yea, the 4GB DDR3 ram is going to be nice. I figure in Jan. at WWDC 09, they will introduce the option to go higher, 6/8GB because it wont be until Snow Leopard that we will really be able to reap the benefits of 4+GB ram.

WWDC 09' will be all about Snow Leopard and maybe minor speed bumps. Maybe also new processors for the Mac Pros.

I think the mbp and mb wont be updated again until fall 09 and maybe even then well begin to see the i7 processors.
 
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allforpiratebay

macrumors member
May 17, 2008
38
0
Agreed. Although, wan't Penryn meant to offer a 'significant' jump on previous gen too?:confused:

,

... yeah. Its worth thinking about that isn't it. I think better power efficiency is some thing to most look forward to rather than 'significant' performance jumps. Even Longer lasting laptops - cool.
 
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alvls

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2008
4
0
Refurb 2.5Ghz / 6M chace / 800Ghz FSB/ 5400rpm HD / 512 vram / DDR2

New 2.4Ghz / 3M chace / 1066Ghz FSB/ 7200rpm HD / 256 vram / DDR3

Wich machine will run faster in your opinion ?
 
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calisurfboy

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2008
179
139
Refurb 2.5Ghz / 6M chace / 800Ghz FSB/ 5400rpm HD / 512 vram / DDR2

New 2.4Ghz / 3M chace / 1066Ghz FSB/ 7200rpm HD / 256 vram / DDR3

Wich machine will run faster in your opinion ?

I am thinking a dell or hp at this point in time.....
 
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comictimes

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2004
874
1
Berkeley, California
So when they say "Nehalem is expected to offer a dramatic performance boost over existing processors", how dramatic are we talking exactly? Because I definitely want to replace my Macbook with a Macbook Pro, it would just make my life much easier. However, it isn't an absolute necessity, so if we're talking an improvement like going from the G5 to Intel was, then I can wait, but if it's just mildly faster processors that are getting hyped up then it's not worth it, I don't think.
 
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dr_lha

macrumors 68000
Oct 8, 2003
1,599
33
Refurb 2.5Ghz / 6M chace / 800Ghz FSB/ 5400rpm HD / 512 vram / DDR2

New 2.4Ghz / 3M chace / 1066Ghz FSB/ 7200rpm HD / 256 vram / DDR3

Wich machine will run faster in your opinion ?
Its a toss up for sure, I would guess the New one. 0.1 Ghz speed advantage of the old one will be definitely outweighed by the faster memory and hard drive access speeds IMHO. The larger cache of the old one is variable I'm not sure about.
 
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M

mvo

Guest
I hope Apple provides an upgrade path for the current struggling Macbook air users:

I hope this new chip, that consumes 17W instead of the current 20W will finally fix the heating problem that many Macbook Air users are struggling with, like mine. We first had several months of core shutdown and in August apple finally tried to fix it with a patc, but that just slowed the system down more quickly to avoid the core shutdown. But this makes the Macbook Air useless for video playback/iChat Video.

I can simulate the issue in the following way:

a) room temperature is warm (to be specific more then 76 Fahrenheit/26 Celsius)
b) I use iChat Video and after xx minutes.
c) Kernel_task (NOT PANIC) jumps in (this is process that Apple added in the specific Macbook Air System update) After a few minutes it takes over 100 to 150% of the cpu and then cutting my iChat Video. I can't do anything. Before this update my system was having core shutdowns.
d) I went already 3x times to Apple Store Genius and they told me several times (also with his super visor) that Apple knows about this issue and that Apple is working on a fix.
This was about 2 weeks ago.
 
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Catfish_Man

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2001
2,579
1
Portland, OR
comictimes: I've been hearing ~20-30% or so when running at the same core count and clock frequency. We'll see how that pans out across various applications though.
 
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dr_lha

macrumors 68000
Oct 8, 2003
1,599
33
I hope Apple provides an upgrade path for the current struggling Macbook air users:
I doubt it, you'll most likely get a software fix (i.e. throttle the CPU, spin the fans harder).
 
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commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,021
113
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/mobile/print/20070907170824.html

I should point out that the advantage of smaller footprint could have been achieved just as easily by staying with Montevina, since the GS45 option with a small form factor ICH9M southbridge has a 1415mm² total area compared to 3342mm² total area for a full size GM45/ICH9M combination. The small form factor GS45 also has the same feature set as the full GM45.

Montevina also has support for switching between integrated and discrete graphics cards. The prime differentiating factor with going nVidia is the strength of the IGP.

The question is, what is nVidia's role going forward with Nehalem? Mobile Nehalem processors will integrate the memory controller, IGP, and PCIe x16 links. So basically the whole northbridge will be integrated into the CPU. And I believe because the whole northbridge is in the CPU, mobile Nehalem will not have any QPI links. Instead it'll only have a DMI link to connect a southbridge.

Will Apple still use nVidia for southbridges? It seems unnecessary. If they want the route of least effort, they should simply stick with stock Intel southbridges. If they want to put more effort into it, they'll probably have PASemi design their own southbridge. PASemi may not have the time or expertise to produce the best northbridge since tuning memory controllers is no doubt difficult, but producing a southbridge should be viable. Apple could certainly integrate the ethernet and firewire controllers that are currently separate as well as any other unique functionality. The integration of northbridge also means that either Apple stays with the stock Intel IGP in every CPU or have discrete GPUs in all models.

And I wonder if Montevina will be used in the iMac. A powerful IGP really isn't needed on a desktop to save power and all current iMacs use a discrete graphics card anyways. It seems likely that the iMac will stick with Montevina and use ATI GPUs to avoid sole-sourcing on nVidia.
 
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AppliedMicro

macrumors 6502a
Aug 17, 2008
700
215
Refurb 2.5Ghz / 6M chace / 800Ghz FSB/ 5400rpm HD / 512 vram / DDR2

New 2.4Ghz / 3M chace / 1066Ghz FSB/ 7200rpm HD / 256 vram / DDR3

Wich machine will run faster in your opinion ?
The new one. Faster FSB, more cache, faster HD, faster graphics (VRAM doesn't really matter. It's the chip!)
Little doubt about it. Even the processor should be faster on the new one, despite being clocked at 100MHz less.
 
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ruku

macrumors member
Apr 26, 2007
80
0
the sweet spot for an upgrade will be when they introduce a four core laptop that has USB 3 onboard. At least that's when I'll upgrade my 2.2 ghz MacBook.
 
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MrCrowbar

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
2,066
239
Is there an online petition urging Apple to add firewire back to the next Macbooks?
 
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AppliedMicro

macrumors 6502a
Aug 17, 2008
700
215
Will Apple still use nVidia for southbridges? It seems unnecessary.
I would guess it comes down to this: NVIDIA seems to be making a strong push for chipsets with integrated graphics cores. Apple more and more deemphasize the importance of CPU and (notice lower clock rates in new models?) in favor of doing more tasks on GPU cores. That's what that OpenCL for Snow Leopard is made for.

And that should also be the business model NVIDIA want to establish (see: CUDA). Cause their position in the market has never seemed more in danger than nowadays: ATI will be "fusing" CPU and GPU, Intel wants to get in the gaming GPU business next year. Meanwhile, NVIDIA are at a serious disadvantage compared to their rivals: They don't have a competitive x86 core in-house, unlike ATI (AMD), Intel, and - dare I say it? - even S3 (VIA). NVIDIA really have (had) to make an effort in these days, and the Apple notebooks are an important design win for them.
 
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amac4me

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
1,303
0
I'll be replacing my Penryn MBP once Nehalem based MBP's are released. Hopefully Apple will once again sell a matte version :rolleyes:
 
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