It seems that some are still holding to the belief that Apple can't add a discrete graphics processor to the 13" MacBook Pro simply because there is no room in the current form factor to do so. In the following posts I will provide some arguments to challenge that opinion. This discussion could prove useful even after the introduction of Apple's next generation MacBook Pros, since I'm sure there will still be lots of questions and "why nots" about the final designs. Let's start by looking at the chip package area to estimate how much room would be required on a motherboard to include a given chip set (CPU, system controller, and GPU). There are, of course, other factors such as the package landing area used for the routing of connections to the chip and the requirements for cooling, but I'm going to propose that the total package area is an important enough consideration to provide a guesstimate to answer the question, "Would a discrete GPU fit?". In any case, the available area on a given motherboard design is something that can be optimized though other changes -- more highly integrated support chips, smaller, more efficient battery, or better cooling mechanisms, etc. Thus, it's probably reasonable to assume that the motherboard layout and space utilization on the existing 13" MacBook Pro could be improved upon and therefore past designs can only be used as a rough and somewhat dated guide to what might be possible today (or this coming Thursday). First, the simple "tale of the tape" (and our benchmark for further comparison): Total chip package area for Core 2 Duo CPU and NVIDIA 9400M system controller/GPU as used in the original unibody 13" MacBook Pro: 2380 mm2 Note, the above values are based on the chip package sizes (that part which is actually mounted to the motherboard). The actual chip die sizes are MUCH smaller and while the die size is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion, I want to stress that the values I'm using are for the full chip package, not the smaller die size. The reason I have decided to use the previous generation 13" MacBook Pro design as a benchmark is that I can't find much information on either the size or thermal properties of NVIDIA's 320M system controller/GPU that is used in Apple's current 13" systems. Besides that, I have seen posts that have referenced an analysis of the original 13" MacBook Pro done by Ars Technica as an argument that there simply isn't room in the existing 13" design to include a discrete GPU (whether true or not, but here is a link to that Ars Technica analysis: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/04/why-the-13-macbook-pro-didnt-get-a-core-i5-upgrade.ars ). Now, for an estimate on the total chip package area on a hypothetical Sandy Bridge-based system with a discrete GPU (three packages or chips, the CPU, the Intel System Hub, and the discrete GPU): 2150 mm2 As you can see, based purely on chip package size there appears to be room to include a Sandy Bridge CPU, the Intel System Hub, and a discrete GPU (the latter with the same package size as the NVIDIA GT 330M GPU used in the 15" Mac Book Pro -- which is a rather generous estimate). It is also worth noting that Intel's System Hub controller does NOT require a heat sink (you can confirm that by looking at the existing 15" MacBook Pro design which contains only two heat sinks, one for the CPU and another for the discrete GPU). Furthermore, the original 13" MacBook Pro also had two heat sinks, one for the CPU and one for the NVIDIA 9400M system controller/GPU. IMO, there seem to be two possibilities for the next 13" MacBook Pro. Sandy Bridge CPU (pretty much a given) + Intel System Hub: 1370 mm2 chip package area with ONE heat sink for the CPU. -- or -- Sandy Bridge CPU + Intel System Hub + discrete GPU: 2150 mm2 chip package area estimate with TWO heat sinks (one for the CPU, one for the discrete GPU). And, once again our "benchmark" Core 2 Duo design with the NVIDIA 9400M: 2380 mm2 with TWO heat sinks (one for the CPU, one for the controller/GPU). In case you are wondering, here is a list of the sizes of each chip package (largest to smallest). Core 2 Duo CPU: 35 mm x 35 mm = 1225 mm2 NVIDIA 9400M system controller/GPU: 34 mm x 34 mm = 1156 mm2* NVIDIA GT 330M discrete GPU: 28 mm x 28 mm = 784 mm2* Sandy Bridge dual-core mobile CPU: 31 mm x 24 mm = 744 mm2 Intel System Hub: 25 mm x 25 mm = 625 mm2 *the package sizes on the 9400M and GT 330M were estimated from high-resolution photos, the other values are from Intel's website. Note the trend, the Core 2 Duo and the NVIDIA 9400M packages are huge in comparison to the latest chip sets. Now, the only questions remaining are chip costs and the heat dissipation requirements which I plan on covering in a follow-up post.