MBA Sandy Bridge CPUs

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by vingochr, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. vingochr macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #1
    We haven't heard any real rumours on what CPUs we expect the MacBook Airs to have on refresh, so this is for your entertainment.

    I've done a lot of searching to work out what we might expect for the 11" and 13" models of the MacBook Air. Now firstly, I did some predictions on the MBP processors which can be found here:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1101568&highlight=
    Apple hadn't used quad-core processors in its laptops before, so it was a bit harder to predict.

    With the MBAs, it should be a lot easier. To start off with, the values I got for the TDP of the GeForce 320M iGP weren't the same, I heard different values quoted, ~12W from forums and 20W from wikipedia. In my working, I used the 320M at 12W TDP, which seems the fit best in comparison to the new MBP battery life. All the predictions have been done on the specs of the current MacBook Airs and the current Sandy Bridge Mobile Processors see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge.

    11 Inch MacBook Air
    The current 11" MBAs have 1.4 and 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs with GeForce 320M iGP, with a TDP for CPU/iGP combo is 10+12=22W.

    Therefore, most logical processors are the ultra low power Sandy Bridge mobile processors, i5-2537M, i7-2617M and i7-2657M. At current price points, it makes sense to go with the i7 chips, the i7-2617M and i7-2657M at 1.5 and 1.6GHz each. These are dual core and two-threads-per-core (2C/4T) and have a TDP of 17W, 5W less than currently required.

    This will increase the performance of the CPUs considerably, as when needed, they will boost to 2.3/2.4GHz on dual core and 2.6/2.7GHz on single core. The performance of the graphics chips will be comparable to before, if not just slightly slower due to the lower turbo clock on the Intel HD 3000 iGP for these CPUs.

    The power management features on these processors will reduce the power required considerably when the CPUs are not stressed. So added to better performance, it will result in much cooler & quieter laptops and also longer battery life.

    13 Inch MacBook Air
    The current 13" MBAs have 1.86 and 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs (2C/2T) with GeForce 320M iGP, with a TDP for CPU/iGP combo is 17+12=29W.

    In this case, most logical processors are the low power Sandy Bridge mobile processors, i7-2629M and i7-2649M at 2.1 and 2.3GHz each with 2C/4T and TDP of 25W, 4W less than currently required.

    Again, the new Sandy Bridge CPUs will increase performance a lot. The CPUs will boost to 2.7/2.9GHz on dual core and 3.0/3.2GHz on single core. The performance of the graphics chips will be similar to previous, and the HD 3000 iGP has a higher turbo clock for the low-power SB than the ultra-low-power SB mobile processors (+10% increase).

    Again, the power management features on these processors will reduce the power required considerably when the CPUs are not stressed. So added to much better performance, it will result in much cooler & quieter laptops and also longer battery life.

    Summary
    11" MBA: 1.5 & 1.6GHz dual-core i7 Sandy Bridge processors @17W
    13" MBA: 2.1 & 2.3GHz dual-core i7 Sandy Bridge processors @25W
    =
    Faster, quieter, cooler laptops whose batteries last for longer. The CPUs will be much more powerful than before, in fact performance on the 13" MBA may be more powerful than some of mid-2010 15" MBPs.
     
  2. Psilocybin macrumors 6502a

    Psilocybin

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #2
    Yo forgot one thing. How much Is this going to cost? We all aren't millionaires you know

     
  3. vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #3
    The 1k unit price for the new SB processors is similar to that of the CPU + iGP of before, so it should cost the same, check ark.intel and wikipedia to check the costs for the new and old CPUs, there's no cost estimates of 220m though. Basically, unless Apple make a bigger profit margin, the new SB MBAs should cost the same as the current ones.
     
  4. Funkymonk macrumors 6502a

    Funkymonk

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    #4
    I love the fact apple skipped the i3 and went straight for i5. i5 11" MBA sounds awesome!
     
  5. lshirase macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
  6. Buck987 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    #6
    great...the extra power will open up a business app in a zillionth of a second...we need that in a 11" portable.

    I know ur coding and film editing on an 11 inch screen on the go all day.and you need the juice.
     
  7. Funkymonk macrumors 6502a

    Funkymonk

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    #7
    Hell yeah brah! Its great that you agree, I can sleep peacefully tonight.
     
  8. alexandero macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #8
    I agree, although I see a slight possibility that Apple will use the 2620M at 35W (as in the current MBP 13") instead, in case the GPU on the 2629M/2649M isn't good enough (I haven't seen any comparison between the Intel HD3000 and the GeForce 320M yet).
     
  9. vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #9
    Alexandero, the HD 3000 on the LV SB is only slightly underclocked.

    The 35W SB CPUs could be a possibility, I seriously doubt it though as it'd make the MBAs too hot, less efficient and basically canabalise the 13" MBP sales.
     
  10. WMuntean macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    #10
    Interesting. Now we have to wait for 2012 to get here. JK. But really, don't the Mini's and Mac Pro's have to updated before we see the MBAs get an update? I definitely see Apple holding out till at least the end of 2012 to update these bad boys.
     
  11. alexandero macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #11
    Well, there's that theory that the 13" MBP does not have a high res screen option as people would then start noticing that the HD3000 isn't really very fast.

    As I doubt the MBA 13" will have its screen size reduced, and also it'll be mid-2012 by the refresh (and expectations rise constantly), I could imagine that Apple might have a problem with a GPU that's clocked slower than in the MBP 13", especially when running a screen with a higher resolution.
     
  12. brentsg macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    #12
    The HD 3000 whining is silly. This IGP is far more powerful than the NV 9400m that many people have getting along with just fine, and it's on par with the 320m as well.

    If people want to play FPS then they are buying the wrong notebook anyways.
     
  13. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816

    Gemütlichkeit

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    #13
    Seriously, the mba is not a gaming rig lol.

    I'm looking for the better power consumption and less heat out of 1 chip.
     
  14. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #14
    This makes no sense. The HD3000 graphics have no problems pushing much higher resolutions, like they do on the 27" ACD or even on the internal display of the MBP 17".

    Let's face it, desktop resolutions of much more than 1280x800 were being pushed without any issues back in the 90s, with 8 MB VRAM and 100 mhz graphic processors.

    I wouldn't have bought a Intel IGP equipped Macbook Air.


    The HD3000 is not on par with the 320M, it's slower according to all the benchmarks. Don't be fooled by the CPU bound scenarios where the faster Core iX processor is helping it keep up to the Core 2 Duo assisted 320M.

    Might not be, but it's nice knowing it runs games in an acceptable fashion.
     
  15. alexandero macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #15
    Well, me too. Unfortunately Apple decided to take the "more power, more heat" in the latest MBP series, so they might do the same in the MBA (I hope not).

    While many applaud the quad core chips in the new MBPs, I'm staying away from the MBPs for exactly that reason, as I really don't want a 45W CPU plus discrete GPU burning my lap. It might be a nice desktop replacement, but the 15/17" MBP is not a laptop anymore.

    Let's hope the MBA refresh is decent and available soon.
     
  16. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816

    Gemütlichkeit

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    #16
    Yeah you're kinda forced to go the 13"

    Unless you want to buy the 15" and turn off the ATi GPU :eek:
     
  17. Psilocybin macrumors 6502a

    Psilocybin

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #17
    Woa way off! you need to get your facts straight
     
  18. vingochr, Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011

    vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #18
    Well, Ivy Bridge will be here before then and Apple's really plugging portable at the moment, so I seriously doubt it will be until late 2012. Mac Mini would be the next obvious one to upgrade as it traditionally has had the same CPU and iGP set up as the 13" MBP and it also refreshes at similar times to the MBPs.

    Mac Pros aren't possible for a while yet as SB Xeon CPUs aren't out yet.

    Sandy Bridge iMacs are a possibility with the 2500/2600/k CPUs, so we'll see how long Apple takes for those. They'd definitely go with the 2500 and 2600 over the 2500k/2600k as they'd require discrete GPUs anyway, so the slower HD 2000 iGP would hardly make a difference. They may wait for some different i7 quad/hexa cores before they do that upgrade though.

    As for MBAs, it looks like Apple is dropping Nvidia, so it would make sense for Apple to stop with the 320Ms, go to Intel for an all-in-one-package. Apple is also quite strong with Intel at the moment; it's one of the first big companies to support Intels mobile Sandy Bridge processors (and one of the only if not the only to buy Sandy Bridge from at the moment) and the first company to support and really "jump on board" Intel's Light Peak technology (with Thunderbolt). Using SB CPUs on the MBAs would give Apple pretty much ownage on all laptops as it would have the fastest in both super-lightweight and performance laptops. Apple has pretty much decimated the opposition (in the performance market) with its MBP lineup; I'm not sure any other laptop maker could outperform the 17" MBP without being incredibly more expensive, heavy, hot and loud (would need a better GPU and the only faster CPU, the i7-2920XM). Intel would probably be willing to do anything for Apple after being boycotted by so many companies (DELL included) after the Sandy Bridge chipset fiasco*. So it would make sense for Apple to thrash any MBA competition before it even gets released by providing some portables that can even kick the trash out of last years 13" MBPs and even some of the 15" MBPs.

    I think the MBA update will come at or around OS X LION -Tiger-, and definitely before the end of the year.

    *Anyone buying a SB MBP needn't worry as they'll only use the safe SATA III connectors if the boards are from the 'faulty' batch
     
  19. vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #19
    Putting cooling and battery aside, 35W SB processors do NOT make sense at the moment. If Apple went with 35W processors for the 13" it would have be 25W for the 11". At the moment, there are only i7 CPU's for the 25W TDP. This means Apple will either have to go only with the FASTEST 35W CPU in the i7-2620M or go with i5/i3 CPUs. Now I seriously doubt Apple will take away the CPU upgrading option, (they left it in the 15" and 17" MBPs) and that they'll have a MBA as-fast-as a MBP with standard SSD, so that rules out the i7-2620M and using 17W SB CPUs for the 11" as only one is an i5 CPU. As for the other 35W CPUs, Apple would find it hard to sell i3 or i5 branded SB 35W CPUs for the MBA for more than i7 branded 25W CPUs to anyone but the Intel-literate.

    In short: Ignoring fan sound/heat and battery, Intel would have to release new i3/i5 CPUs at TDP ~25W or less for Apple to consider having 13" MBA SB CPUs at 35W that would sell.
     
  20. zinka macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    #20
    Really? 2005? How's your Delorean?
     
  21. vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #21
    In the best case scenario, if the TDP for the 320M is 20W, then that gives 8W more to play about with. In that case, if the sellability issue of the 25W for 11" and 35W for 13" could be solved and the battery and cooling conditions were right, we could see these processors in the MBA. More likely: even if the 320M TDP is 20W, the 17 and 25W SB CPUs are very viable upgrades as they are a toned-down version of the performance CPUs in the MBPs and they reduce the cooling and power issues of the tiny MBA maintaining its ultraportability. I've seen a few comments that the 13" MBA can be a bit louder than the 11" due to its higher TDP.

    Apple may just choose to go with the 17W SB CPUs for all MBAs to reduce any fan noise as much as possible and increase the battery for the 13" quite considerably (I estimate it would increase the life of the 13" from 7 to up to 10 hours on Apple's new measurements, not including battery enhancements)
     
  22. vingochr thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #22
    Haha, must be getting tired, all these Cats make things confusing, I don't think they'll be any more left by the time we get to OS 11. I meant OS 10.7 Lion
     
  23. unixphone macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    #23
    i wanted to get the 11" one. But I feel stupid not wait for i5......
    man.. maybe i will go for macbook pro
     
  24. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    The Black Lodge
    #24
    10.8 Tigon
    10.9 Liger
     
  25. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    The Black Lodge
    #25
    Sounds like you should go for the Pro then.

    The SL9600, which the most powerful C2D being used in the 2010 MBAir, draws 17 W - while most of the i5 SB notebook processors draw 35 W (except for the 1.4 GHz one with only 17 W). If you need a SB i5 CPU to take care of your computing needs, you should go for the MBPro and not wait for the next Air.
     

Share This Page