Reason for no Thunderbolt and 480p

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Four by Six, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. Four by Six macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2015
    I thought I would share some info from sources in the know that I have spoken to since the launch. This is second hand info, but this is a rumor site afterall.

    Supposedly the new MacBook was designed around Skylake processor. As Skylake slipped out due to Broadwell delays, Apple felt pressure due to competitors coming out with similar products. Worried they needed a foothold in the market segment, they rushed out a Broadwell based MacBook as a placeholder until Skylake is available.

    One problem with this strategy is that the I/O chip for the single port was designed for Skylake. This interface chip included Thunderbolt with all the currently offered interfaces. So, without Skylake, they could not include Thunderbolt, supposedly. They used a different interface chip for now.

    I also heard that they realized in testing that the MacBook would be underpowered. Supposedly all the hands-on samples at the unveiling were the 1.3GHz version overclocked slightly. They also carefully controlled what was running on the demo units to keep user experience fluid and smooth. The reason for the 480p camera was not to save money or space, but rather to lower the strain on the CPU, because internal user experience testing showed that during long Facetime sessions, when the processor started throttling, the image got too choppy with HD cameras.

    The people I spoke to heard a rumor (now third hand info) that the decision to put out a Broadwell MacBook went all the way to Tim Cook and was made pretty recently. He had a choice between taking heat that there was still no Retina Air or competition for latest competitor offerings until Fall, or taking heat that the MacBook is slightly underpowered and has no Thunderbolt yet. He decided the latter.

    So, now after hearing all this, I am struggling with whether to wait for the Skylake version or not. I was going to be the first in line to order the MacBook, but now I might wait until I see real world testing from reviewers. I don't need Thunderbolt or HD camera, but I do want more CPU power. Or I could buy now and flip it around Christmas if the Skylake version shows up.

    Again, this is all 2nd and 3rd hand info, but it does seem to align with many rumors leading up to the launch and the lack of TB and only 480p camera.
  2. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    Core M shouldn't be that underpowered... I am really curious for the reviews next month.

    At any rate, it's always better to wait for a gen 2 Apple product.
  3. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 27, 2013
    I don't understand how the MacBook would not be able to handle FaceTime when the iPhone can, does it really use that much cpu?

    I'm also at a loss as to how a mere 200mhz would make such a difference. Are they not using the same graphics chips. Anyways I'm hoping with education discount the upgraded processor is not too much, couple that with credit card cash back and fat wallet and it might be a (free) upgrade.

    I plan to get this underpowered or not. Then upgrade next year if there is something on it I really need.
  4. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    We already know that this is what really went down:

    The 480p is just there for the lolz :D and of course a 720p camera costs $2 more.
  5. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2011
    I don't get the 480p camera, not when the Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro has a 720p one - so the processor isn't the issue. Perhaps the assembly needed to be 1mm thicker to accommodate it and they decided against it, I don't know.

    The TB one is perhaps a matter of heat control/dissipation, perhaps they can't get the full-on 10 Gbps bandwidth stream going without seriously overheating the machine; anyway, it's just a theory.
  6. HardBall macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    The explanations are probably pretty simple:

    Apple has done consumer research that very small amount of ppl actually use HD video chat; most are satisfied with standard def.

    TB3.0 will be better suited for ultra-portable machines with a new formfactor; so that's just waiting for compatible tech to come along, rather than design the machine around a port that will be obsolete in short order.
  7. iPaintCode macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2012
    Metro Detroit
    Apple has had a great track record for I/O device and hardware decisions (minus Firewire). They do adopt or discard far more aggressively and I think their move to USB C has way more uptick in the long run for consumers. Thunderbolt peripherals are more expense and a lot harder to find compared to USB 3.0 peripherals. Intel licensing requirements are just too expensive and that alone will cause Intel to lose the I/O war.

    IIRC, USB C speeds are around 10Gbps and have added DisplayPort support. Of course in pure speed TB is faster but USB C allows for a plethora of expansion and at 10Gbps speeds that's not too shabby. I think Apple made the right decision to move over to USB C. The only caveat is the lack of Magsafe and I think with a 2lb machine it won't take much to have it flying across the table. If the rMBP's go this route I'm betting 2-3 USB C ports come into play.
  8. ParanoidDroid macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2013
    Venusville, Mars
    Thank you, really! This is the first sane post naming possible reasons for the rather strange Macbook specs. At least it makes more sense now why Apple – namely Cook – decided to release such a half-assed machine.

    After reading the knee-jerk argument "This Macbook wasn't made for you... go get an rMBP" over and over again (which I already have, read my signature!), I feel a relief.
  9. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Personally I am looking more and more at the new "MacBook" as unfortunately the MacBook Air is now a depreciated product, certainly the 11" with omission of; updated SSD, new "Force Trackpad",and same TN display makes this very clear. By the time I spec the Air to my needs it makes no sense, I may as well just go for a second 13" MBPr, with the latest updates.

    The 12" MacBook will meet the middle ground, Retina, greater portability at the cost of some performance, has RAM and storage I require. Had Apple reduced the price of the Air and it`s in house upgrades it would be more inclined to go for the Air.

    I have not completely ruled out the 11" Air, equally a fully spec`d one is an expensive proposition compared to newer and better hardware on offer, equally the Air has the thermal headroom and a full set of ports...

  10. pasadena macrumors 6502a


    Sep 12, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    I have no idea whether these "people familiar with the matter" rumors are true in the "why they made it like this" but I do believe this machine is just a placeholder, along with a proof of concept and a way to get a feel of the market and of what people really value (i.e. what are we complaining most about). Not that I won't buy it, because it probably still meets my needs, but from a financial point of view, it makes absolute sense to wait for Gen2 and Skylake.

    However, regarding the Thunderbolt port, if I look at my 11" MBA, I don't see how one would fit in a case that is 4mm or 5mm thinner, unless they come up with a "mini thunderbolt".
  11. Four by Six thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2015
    TB over USB-C

    I think, if TB is added to MB, it will be over existing shared port, so yet another dongle. This slide shows how new TB and Skylake are linked and will still support USB and DP:


    And here is the pinout of the existing port:


    So, just a guess here, but I would expect TB support to be added to USB-C when MB is updated to Skylake. Also, better 4K support. However, they could always change their minds later.
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Sorry, but this does not make any sense to me. Current Intel's encoders are so efficient that a Core M shouldn't even notice 720p...

    Same with your rationale for lack of TB port. A TB port is same height as the USB2/3, so there is no way that it would fit into the slim 12" MacBook. So I really don't see how this is supposed to be a late decision — its simply not possible change the design of the entire laptop + battery assembly so late in the process.
  13. mojolicious macrumors 68000


    Mar 18, 2014
    Sarf London
    Is there a 'not' missing from this sentence?
  14. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    Thank you for sharing, it was an interesting, thought-provoking read.

    Nevertheless the new MacBook has USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps).
  15. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Pretty much this. That 1G Macbook Air was a mess.
  16. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    People need to stop assuming. It's ridiculous how much time people put into trying to determine what they cannot prove.

    No one knows how well the new processor in the RMB will perform. Why? Because hardware is only as good as the software that's utilizing it. Since no one has the RMB to test anything, all these "calculations" and "assumptions" are worthless.

    If you compare the specs of the Samsung Galaxy against the iPhone 6, the spec on the Galaxy are considerably better. However, use both devices and you wouldn't even notice the difference. Why? S-O-F-T-W-A-R-E.
  17. ctyrider, Mar 14, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015

    ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    Sorry, but this makes exactly zero sense.

    Apple omitting Thunderbolt in favor of USB-C is a strategic decision. It has nothing to do with purported Intel "lateness" in shipping Skylake.

    Apple was heavily involved in designing USB-C, and it was designed to support all the necessary "single port" functionality that Apple needs in an ultra-thin Macbook - power, DisplayPort and data. There is no need for Thunderbolt in 12" rMB, Skylake or not. Apple will continue offering Thunderbolt in high-end Macs, but we will never see it in ultraportables.

    Also, "Broadwell based MacBook as a placeholder until Skylake" sounds like a lot of hogwash also. By that logic - every release of a Mac is a "placeholder" until a new gen of CPUs hits the market. Skylake equivalent of CoreM is still ways off, and we won't see Skylake based rMB for at least a year.

    I'd say your sources are either mis-informed or something got seriously got lost in translation.
  18. macbook123, Mar 14, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015

    macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Feb 11, 2006
    Thanks OP, this seems pretty credible to me. My first thought when hearing 480p was that they went there because of overall user experience becoming an issue under 720p with the low clock rate chip when multitasking during extended FaceTime calls. A 720p sensor isn't any thicker than a 480 one, so that was obviously not the reason.

    I still wonder if the Skylake one will have more ports, be they USB-C. Would make the computer far more usable.

    I think I'm going with new 13.3" RMBP or the "infinity display" Dell XPS 13 if they start selling the Ubuntu version soon. I'm definitely looking forward to a fully functional Macbook later this year, and might get that then.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with Apple's choice to sacrifice usability for thinness in rushing a new product to the market. People are still vowed by the thinness of the existing Air's. The only thing people did NOT like is the ancient tech screen as well as the enormous bezel around it. They should have just put a 14" Retina IPS screen in the current 13.3" chassis and upgraded with Broadwell for improved battery life and that would have been a really amazing feat of a laptop (and same with the 11.6" Air, just put a nice 12" screen in it). Of course this would have cannibalized on the 13.3" RMBP, but if your rumors are true that will happen sooner or later anyway.
  19. kamalds macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    Here is the explanation

    People don't care for specifications or features when they would be going for this model. People like how it looks and how it make them look cooler. :cool:

    Sad but true.

    And last but not the least - it comes in gold!

    Attached Files:

  20. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    Reading almost all the posts here in this subject and some of the "hands-on"-s on the net I tend to think that you have a point.
  21. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Interesting theory but Skylake is supposed to be on track... It seems like an odd choice from Apple either way. They've made the Air much less desirable next to the competition with the lack of retina display and huge bezels. And the MB is just not much of a rational choice. It's a big sacrifice financially and practically to go from the Air to the MB for a little weight and size advantage.

    The other choice would have been to release an updated Macbook Air that's half-way between the two computers. With a retina display and some of the other technologies. But I'll guess the problem is they couldn't make it cheap enough. Hence they released a stop-gap model with the MB, just like the original MBA, it makes sense for very little people but gives an aura to the company, "hey we can still make amazing stuff".
  22. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    The ideea of the Macbook, it's a call for fashion and portability
    I think the gold will be kind of unisex and we will se more women to chooice gold macbook instead of any other ultrabook brand
    Thunderbolt ports WILL exista for the next 5-10 years in the PRO Mac pro, imac, macbook pro. So yes i think we will get tunderbolt 3 in the next macbook pro and imac and mac pro for next year

    This year Apple make a strong statement that goes into fashion even stronger with this Macbook and Stainless steel and gold Apple watch
  23. Souli macrumors member

    May 16, 2010
    Skylake is not delayed because of Broadwell. Intel is right on time with the next generation. The only thing that was heavily delayed is Broadwell. So there is something wrong with the information of your "source".
  24. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    So if it's true and Skylake is not delayed...that means the 15" MBP and the next 27" iMac will get skylake
  25. KrisLord macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2008
    Northumberland, UK
    My raspberry pi can do 1080p video, there's no reason the core M can't too. I really think it's just a matter of keeping the screen thickness down.

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29 March 13, 2015