Next Gen Air-related musings this week

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Jobsian, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. Jobsian macrumors 6502a

    Jobsian

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    #1
    Just some general thoughts of this week regarding any next-gen Air. I'm always thirsty for info on anything Air-related or even Air-'contenders', and thought this might be a suitable thread to keep some more conversation going (this forum's relatively stagnant compared with the MBP's).

    Firstly I have to reiterate that I'm still enormously excited at the prospect of a next-gen Air, I see myself pretty much getting one on the day of release (if there is one and it isn't a monstrosity).


    I was thinking - with this talk of the Tablet possibly being delayed until 2nd half 2010 to be able to produce OLED for it at sub $2000 prices, it's made me more hopeful of an Air update sooner rather than later, as I'd always imagined the Tablet stealing at least some attention from the Air. On the downside, the discussion about OLED costs in relation to the Tablet has made me less hopeful about OLED appearing on any imminent Air, not that I had much to begin with mind (costs and its current limitations/problems)


    This week we've also seen what kind of tech we can push inside an ultraportable - see Scottsdale's Asus thread. Discrete graphics from ATI, 4GB RAM and 320GB HDD (not that I'd go with HDD myself these days) - Some of its features are impressive, but not all eg CPU - they probably couldn't get an adequate thermal envelope for anything faster. Which is where Arrandale will come in real handy. Hopefully with the Nvidia dispute too, there's a possibility of an ATI card in the next Air, unless they demote the Air's status as a premium ultraportable and downgrade the graphics to exclusively Intel integrated. The latter would be a shame imo which ties in to another topic I want to mention.


    Dell have done 2 major things with the Adamo XPS imo:

    1) They've won the thinness competition, by a country mile (for now)
    2) They've clarified the notion that the portability/power compromise should ideally be a compromise on both fronts, ie not just power. While the original Adamo was quite beautiful, I just feel that the slightly unsightly design on the Adamo XPS to maximise thermal efficiency was a compromise too far. Not that it has very powerful internals itself. In my view, the 1.86/2.13 Rev B/C Macbook Air hit the sweet spot (possibly the 1.86 more than the 2.13).


    Snow Leopard - a lot of talk in the past couple of weeks about Windows 7 and Snow. We have to hand it to MS, Win 7 is a good OS, much much better than Vista. There isn't the same chasm between the 2 OS's that there was before. Especially with SL's poor Flash/HD vid performance (see Scottsdale's posts). Some good news today is the rumour that the next upgrade is already being worked on (see main page). Ultimately, of what little I've used of Win 7, I still prefer the UI/functionality of SL, but I'd love to see Apple pull their weight a bit more when it comes to performance.


    And that's not to mention any potential next-gen Air design - unashamedly one of my main attractions to Apple products...with Apple, you can almost guarantee that on this front they're going to hit a home run :)


    Itching to see Apple announce at least an Arrandale/ATI/4GB/256GB Air!
     
  2. bmstrong macrumors 6502

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    May 30, 2007
    #2
    Unfortunately I think it will be awhile before anything is announced.
     
  3. copykris Suspended

    copykris

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    #3
    no ****
     
  4. Jobsian thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jobsian

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    Jul 30, 2009
    #4
    ^ amended wiseass :p

    That's a possibility unfortunately. Though it may not be all bad if it means they're waiting to fit in more advanced tech - so many possibilities - with their recent partnership with LG, are they waiting for OLED 2.0? etc
     
  5. awesomedeluxe macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    #5
    Okay this thread looks like a lot of fun.

    With ASUS, I didn't check it but I think you're talking about the Vt. The switchable graphics look cool and all, but keep in mind it's packing a ULV processor. You don't want that. The CPU and IGP will almost assuredly be upgraded to Arrandale. But if they don't use the 25W LV processor, it's going to be unfortunate.

    Dell--you missed some of Dell's most interesting notebooks. Both Adamos are quite underpowered. But Dell is rolling out "z" models which kind of rock. Although pretty big compared to the Air, the Latitude Z (16" screen, .5-.7" thick) rocks some really nice features. I am expecting they upgrade this with a more powerful "precision" model (a Precision Z). Really, the latitude z is interesting mostly because it's likely you'll see more "z" models in the latitude line with the same awesome feature set, and hopefully they'll be a bit more powerful.

    Dell's studio/inspiron line has z models too, but I think only the 14z lacks a cd drive and is actually very thin. The battery on th 14z sticks out in an unsightly way (like the screen on the bottom of the adamo xps, for cooling) but this thing packs a full power processor and can be upgraded to sport an ATi 4330. No cd drive, still pretty thin, packs a wallop.

    Jobsian, I'm wondering what (realistically) you'd like in a next-gen ultrathin laptop? For me, the specs look like this:

    14-15" screen, ~.7" thick.
    Arrandale LV 25W @ 2.13GHz
    ATi "Park" 5430-5470 ~12W @ 512MB DDR5

    Details on Park are a little iffy and based on the latest rumors; it might end up being DDR3 and a little hotter/cooler. Obviously if I could have any dream feature I wanted I'd have OLED and USB 3.0, but since this is unreasonable, check out the screen and port set on the Latitude Z: A powered USB 2.0 / eSATA combo port with a screen reviews describe as gorgeous, stunning, etc. The latitude z also packs an ethernet jack, which is a big plus in my book. Anyway, Dell says they'll be rolling out a lot more "z" models this year, so they're definitely one to keep an eye on.
     
  6. bmstrong macrumors 6502

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    May 30, 2007
    #6
    Who knows? I'll be shocked if USB 3 hits by the year...
     
  7. gianly1985 macrumors 6502a

    gianly1985

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    #7
    I just want one thing: 4gb RAM.

    Even better, not soldered RAM. So to allow an upgrade to 8gb.

    A MacbookAir with 2.26ghz + 4-8gb + Intel X18-M SSD could do VMware virtualization at good speed.
     
  8. awesomedeluxe macrumors member

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    Jun 29, 2009
    #8
    Wait, they have 8GB on a single DIMM now? I'd never heard of it.
     
  9. gianly1985 macrumors 6502a

    gianly1985

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    #9
    No, you still need 2 SODIMMs, 4gb each.

    What's the matter with building the new MBA with 2 slots?
     
  10. awesomedeluxe macrumors member

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    Jun 29, 2009
    #10
    It's rather unprecedented. To be honest, the MBPs are some of the thinnest laptops I know of with two slots. We would be lucky to get control of a single upgradeable RAM slot for the Air; at its size you probably have to just hope they opt to solder 4GB of DDR3 on there. The Air is going to need ever centimeter of room it can get during the next generation so that it can host some kind of working graphics solution to replace the 9400m.

    The Dell Studio 14z lacks a CD drive but still comes to 1.2" at its thickest point. But it has 1GB of DDR3 RAM soldered onto the motherboard, making for up to 5GB DDR3 RAM. Dell redesigns their lines very frequently and a major new processor architecture is just around the corner, so it's something to keep an eye on.
     
  11. a.chufong macrumors member

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    Nov 17, 2005
    #11
    @awesomedeluxe: About the two slots, don't the Thinkpads each have two? I'm thinking of the X200s and T400s, specifically, seeing as they're the closest match to the MBA in depth. I'm not sharpshooting ya or denying that it would be hard - I'm just saying that it could be done, if Apple wanted to.

    Also, do y'all think that it's more likely that the MBA will have a CULV or i5 processor?
     
  12. awesomedeluxe macrumors member

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    Jun 29, 2009
    #12
    Well I've been trying to find other models like the Air since I'd like to purchase something like that next generation, and what I've really been looking at is 13+ inch laptops sans cd drive. So those two didn't really strike me, but you are right that the T400s, like the MBP, is another laptop just under an inch which is upgradeable to two slots of RAM. The HP Envy would also qualify, and probably deserves mention on this thread.

    But like the 14z I mentioned earlier it's sort of difficult to compare them to the Air, because they are really much thicker laptops. I brought that one up because it lacks a cd drive, and has a kind of slanted design so it goes from .7" at the front to 1.2" at the back. I can see it getting smaller in a premium redesign (e.g. an "XPS 14z"), whereas it would be tough to make that T400s any thinner since it keeps the optical drive.

    I worked out the TDP on both the i5 and the ULV processors you mentioned. With ION and the LV Penryn we're at like 31W, and both of those might be underclocked or something. At 35W TDP the i5 is a tough sell; with Calpella it's at 38.5W, well over the TDP of current makes. If they used it, it would be very difficult to add a discrete card. So you're relying on the Arrandale IGP. This means you get a 15% increase in CPU for about half the old graphics performance. Not a great upgrade.

    The ULV can easily spare room for discrete graphics, but now you're looking at a decrease in CPU performance. I mean we're talking 1.2GHz max here, no amount of clever architecture design is going to fix that.

    As difficult as it is to do, looking at the TDP breakdown I still believe the Air will use the upcoming LV i7 processor. Calpella and the LV Arrandale are already 28.5W. After shutting down the Arrandale IGP with graphics switching, you've got some room although a discrete GPU is admittedly a tight fit. If the ATi "Park" GPUs can really be kept around 10W with undervolting or what have you, then there's an excellent solution for that. Knowing Apple, though, a last-generation discrete card of around the same TDP is probably more likely.
     
  13. a.chufong macrumors member

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    Nov 17, 2005
    #13
    @awesomedeluxe: I definitely hear you with the 14z comparison. In addition to the thickness, the 14z doesn't even come close to the MBA, especially with the build quality. There seem to be reports on NBR about significant wiggle with the battery and its slot, indicating that Dell may have cut one too many corners with it.

    I know there's already another thread on the Asus UL30Vt, but it really seems like the closest thing to an MBA alternative. No optical, alumnium lid, under or around 4 lbs, etc. And while it's got a CULV schip, the unit does have some graphics horsepower in the G 210M, which is a die-shrink of the 9600. Although users say that the CULVs are adequate performers, I really hope you're right about the LV i7. If the LV i7 perform anything like their normal i7 counterparts, then we're really in for a treat. Also, I've read a bit about the i5/i7s being able to overclock and shut down unused cores, which is pretty useful.

    Hopefully the MBA isn't at the EOL and Apple refreshes with newer tech we're all talking about.
     
  14. MrCheeto macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

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    Nov 2, 2008
    #14
    Is the Air like the Pro? Or is it more like a Mini. Is there a way to distinguish from the Pro and the Pro?

    Yes.



    Using both names -.- MACBOOK Air MACBOOK Pro and MAC Pro. Calling it the air erks me more than actually thinking the official name is iTouch and when people hear "MacBook Pro" but SAY Mac Pro. How does that even happen? That would be like hearing a doctor tell the surgeon "It'd be best to amputate the right one and the left should not be, that's our best shot." then DOING a double amputation -.-' What kind of wise*** decided you can pick and choose what words to go by and which to drop, regardless.

    I can't tell you the number of people that have called me about their Mac Pro problems only to find out they're talking about a freaking laptop, ONE THAT IS LABELED DIRECTLY BELOW THE SCREEN!!!
     
  15. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    #15
    I would love to get a MacBook Air sometime too.

    With me, I'd probably wait until the new ones come out and try to find a previous generation one at a discount.

    So, the sooner they come out with the next best MBA the better! ;)

    Keri

    PS. That's how I got my Mac Pro and Mini.... They're not the latest but they're great anyway.
     
  16. Horus macrumors regular

    Horus

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    Mar 5, 2009
    #16
    In my opinion:

    New MacBook Air: Black Bezel (like the Pros), MultiTouch TrackPad and Thinner.

    Entry Version: The same as the current High End but with 4 GB of RAM.

    High End Version: Arrandale CPU, SSD 256 GB, Upgraded GPU (But not Dedicated), 4 GB of RAM.
     
  17. MrCheeto macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

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    Nov 2, 2008
    #17
    The MacBook Air already has multitouch trackpad, the ONLY difference is that it has a button. We just crammed a 9400m into the thing, no chance of putting something else in there for a while.
     
  18. Horus macrumors regular

    Horus

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    #18
    Yeah, that's what i meant.
     
  19. awesomedeluxe macrumors member

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    Jun 29, 2009
    #19
    Yup. It can shut down one core and overclock the other, and also supports hyper-threading. Pretty cool stuff. The LVs are designed to cut as much power as possible without significantly hurting performance, whereas the the ULVs intend to simply cut as much power as possible. So the performance of these LVs should be very nearly the same as the standard voltage i5s; about a 15% all-around increase in performance but now at 10W less.

    Unfortunately, while intel had originally planned to release these in Q1 2010, it now seems they are holding on to them--perhaps as long as Q3. This is a major headache for people looking for a new Air or similar notebooks, especially because the coming ULV processors are expensive, operate at an extremely low clock speed (1.2GHz tops), and with their accompanying IGP reach 17W. The old Penryns were 10W, 1.6GHz. So the ULV processors would have to really heavily on Turbo Boost and single-threaded applications to bridge that gap. You can compare the old and new ULVs yourself:

    1.6GHz Penryn + 9400m @ 24W
    OR
    1.2GHz i7 + 500mHZ IGP + Calpella @ 21.5W

    As you can see, it's very debatable as to whether or not the new ULV is an "upgrade." So let's hope intel doesn't delay with their LV processors.
     

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