The retina MBA is not going to happen and here is why.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by surjavarman, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. surjavarman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 24, 2007
    The retina MBA is not going to happen because there is not enough place for a large battery pack within the chassis of the current MBA. They either need to make the dimensions larger to accomodate the larger battery but that will put it in the MBP territory. Or they will have to give consumers 1-2 hours of battery life, which they also won't do because of their high level of standards.

    So I am going to guess that Apple is going to use ARM in the future for their MBA lineup. Also they are going to port OS X for ARM. Current ARM processors are already powerful enough for most consumer tasks. The ipad3 uses an extremely powerful ARM processor which handles the retina display with ease. Give it a few years and you have processors that as powerful as the current gen intel processor with virtually no power consumption.

    You guys can dig this thread up in 2014. I just wanted to say it out first before somebody else steals my idea.
  2. Maziar macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2010
  3. MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    by the time they make retina screens for the mba, they will have optimized the battery life to maintain 5/7 hours. problem solved.
  4. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    First of all, you're not the first to suggest an MBA with ARM processor. In fact, you're probably the thousandth. There is even a MBA KIRF running Android to prove it.

    Second, it won't happen. While ARM has been getting more and more capable, it's still magnitudes weaker than an x86 processor for running a full-fledged OS. While the iPad pushes lots of pixels; it doesn't (truly) multitask, it doesn't really run any hardware intensive apps except for a few games.

    This point will be proved if a company like Adobe releases their apps for Windows RT. Can you imagine working with a 10MP image with a few hundred layers in Photoshop on an ARM? It won't happen.

    Also, for what it's worth, there won't ever be Thunderbolt on ARM as Intel simply won't ever allow it.
  5. asting macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2012
    Battery tech is a bustling field in materials science. I have faith it will come.
  6. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    Doesn't the current MBP retina run on the same Intel HD4000 graphics as the MBA when not in discreet mode? That tells me that the current HD4000 could probably support a retina screen in a macbook air with some software solutions to keep it from being slow as hell. The Haswell chips should be even better. If Apple can find a more energy efficient screen and increase the size of the battery slightly that should be enough to maintain the current battery life.

    I thought a retina iPad would be impossible but they managed to do that so I have no doubt that they will have a retina MBA either on the next update or the one after that.
  7. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    As well as reducing power consumption in display technology. In 2014 we could be using high rez OLED screens.

    I think the problem is that most of us here on these boards don't have careers in the embedded space and other vertical markets. Making predictions is fun but basically the accuracy is akin to that of playing craps.

    All in all it's fun to speculate though I wouldn't be placing my chips on ARM Macbook Air any time soon.
  8. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    This is where you lost me. I don't know how you define "truly", but iOS does multitask. Its essentially the same kernel as Mac OSX. Apple just controls who is allowed to multitask. There are tons of programs multi-tasking on an iOS device, you just never see them.
  9. Ginge22 macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I'm inclined to agree with the original poster, I was actually having this very conversation with an Apple Store employee today. If it happens, it will be years down the line when the MBA has a re-designed form factor. The battery issues aside, I think Apple will also want to make the retina display exclusive to the MBP to clearly set apart that line.
  10. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    True multitasking is when you have two windows open, side by side, both can be using the CPU cycles concurrently. In practice, this means you can switch to windows 1 and send it a command to do something, switch to window 2 and send it a command to do something else, and when you return to window 1, that command has been completed. To demonstrate in OSX, you can have a youtube video playing, a song on itunes playing, and a movie in VLC playing; all at the same time and all over each other. This may not be pleasant, but it demonstrates audio multitasking.

    iOS multitasking is limited exclusively to certain APIs that apple allows apps to call. In reality, when you switch away from an app it's state is frozen. The app is not running in the background, but rather an OS-level API is continuing whatever process the app called before it froze (such as playing music, downloading a file, etc.) In practice, this means you can only see one "window" at a time, and commands you issue to a window (other than those deemed by apple allowed to take place in the background) will not complete in the background while you're looking at another window. To demonstrate, you cannot open the youtube app and play a video, and then open the music app and get it to play a song on top of the youtube video. The OS will only allow one, or the other. Similarly, if you load a website that has a locally-executed script that simply counts seconds up in real-time, and then you switch to another app for a few seconds, and then switch back, you will notice the script was not counting while the app was in the background.

    Sadly, the only true multi-tasking mobile OS was webOS. It allowed true multi-tasking and showed it in a beautiful cards UI. Neither Android nor Windows Phone 7.* have true multitasking. Windows Phone 8 promises true multitasking, but we have yet to see it. That's getting off-topic though.
  11. macneubie, Jul 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012

    macneubie macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    how much concrete info does that store employee has, compared to what the evangelists here, experts there have? unless you heard it from the big shots up there, the credibility and accuracy of any speculation, is at best, bull. Apple is famous for its guarding its secrets jealously, within the company, those not involved in the R&D knows nuts about what is the product roadmap at all.
  12. christophermdia macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2008
    Let's not discount the fact that Intel is not stupid either and energy efficient/powerful CPU's are a priority. Who would have thought we could have an i7 CPU running 5-7 hours. When apple is ready to run Retina MBA's they will get it right. Who won't get it right are the PC makers putting out cheap 2-3 hour machines.
  13. Ginge22 macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    I was not implying for a second that this was "secret intel" or that the employee had any "inside info." Of course he doesn't. It was just us talking/speculating and we both agreed that a retina MBA was a stretch.
  14. macneubie macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    TBH, no point speculating what is the fate of the MBA in the coming years, market forces, material/technological advances will decide the outcome. meanwhile, just enjoy Apple's products. :)
  15. Wokis macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Wouldn't blame the battery as much as the GPU, seeing as the MBA-line will most likely go with whatever GPU Intel has built into their CPUs. It simply will not suffice for all high resolution situations within the next generation or three. Keep in mind Apple does control the user experience more on an iOS-device than they can do with an OSX-device.

    Computing-power wise the best ARM chips are pretty much competing with Intel Atom. So I don't see the switch to ARM coming anytime soon, as that would mean the next generation would be sub-par to the current.

    Well. What is called an i7 CPU in the ULV-class can't even compare to an i3 in the "normal" TDP-classes. The names are simply a marketing device.
  16. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Battery is an issue right now, but mostly because of the display backlight, not because of the CPU/GPU requirements. To keep the same brightness level, a retina display needs much more backlight power than a non-retina. Technologies like Sharp's IGZO displays should help with that.

    I think the main reason that there won't be Retina MBAs for a while is cost. Apple wants the Macbook Air to be the mainstream entry level Macbook, replacing the old white Macbook and the 13" MBP.

    If they have the choice to add a retina display and keep the price the same (or increase slightly), or drop the price by $100, I think that they would pick the latter.

    Now a couple of years down the road when the screens are much cheaper I'm sure it will happen, just not in the next couple of refreshes.
  17. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The OP here is neglecting a lot of inconvenient information regarding the storage design, smaller display, lack of ports, and other things that allow the ipad to run on a much lower power budget. Attributing it all to the soc is just a lack of comprehension, and a lack of desire to read anything beyond cheesy marketing materials. The ARM the Air thing started up a long time ago, yet no one has examined the logistics of building one that would yield both superior battery life and a flat growth sidegrade in terms of cpu potential within 2 annual cycles. If anything further development of OpenCL and GPGPU computation wherever possible will be the thing to really push things forward in the ultra portable realm unless I'm missing something. The gains where it can work are pretty amazing. The ARM thing is just an issue of people who assume that because something looks better on paper, it will be better when scaled for a different usage case. While it could happen, the main advantage to pushing it today would be pretty marketing materials. Obviously I haven't seen some of their research projects, but neither has the OP. He just wants to feel like he came up with the theory on his own when it was most likely planted there by marketing and tech blog editorials.
  18. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Another bit on battery, the iPad 3 has a 42.5Wh battery, even with the ARM SOC. The Macbook Air 11" has a 35Wh battery, and the 13" a 50Wh battery.

    I think Apple would rather wait two or three years for retina displays to be cheap and use less power than they would make the Air thicker or make it incompatible with legacy Mac apps.
  19. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    I actually agree with the OP in that battery (and GPU) will be a major problem in bringing a retina MBA to reality.

    The rMBP has had to increase the size of the batteries in order to sustain the SAME battery life as the standard MBP. Well, we dont have room to stack larger batteries in the MBA, so... unless there's a new breakthrough in battery technology, or it's not going to happen.

    Moreover, let's not forget that the rMBP has a dedicated GPU helping the OSX driving all those pixels, and the MBA only has an integrated GPU.
  20. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    No one cares what you write now, much less 2 years from now.

    In 2014, this forum will be dominated by threads about the heat and the battery consumption differences between the I11 and the I13 CPUs and why the I13 isn't worth an additional $150.
  21. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    Intel said at IDF that 2013 is the year that the Wintel market starts to move towards HiRez display


    As for battery life I don't think people are really doing the math. Apple's Tech Specs pages on the Macbook Pro 15 lineup bears this out

    15" non Retina - 77.5 watt hour for 7 hours of battery life

    15" Retina MBP - 95 watt hour for 7 hours of battery life

    That's just over 20% so one can postulate that today's HiRez display technology causes about a 20% hit in power consumption.

    In 2013 Haswell should deliver iGPU capable of running the resolution and better display tech like IGZO should reduce the power consumption. I'd say we're no more than 2 revisions away from Retina MBA being conservative.
  22. yanksrock100 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2010
    San Diego
    I agree. A 13 Retina MBP may be in the works, but MBA is probably in 2014 as you said.
  23. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    And what exactly is your "idea" here?

    Lets hope that battery technology grows up faster than the people who think being "first" is actually something to brag about.
  24. macneubie macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    For sure, as more high res displays appear prices are bound to move southwards. The initial high price of retina display maybe due to immature manufacturing technologies (low yield) resulting in higher clawback costs.

    The current air has the specs that matches and even trashes the baseline pro model. So is a matter of time. If the OP can think of that, I can't understand why others can't.
  25. jvmxtra macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    I think it's safe to say that 2014, I will buy rMBA. I have seen rMBP in person in the store and they are while beautiful, bit jerky. Plus not all the apps are optimize for that type of resolution.

    2013, MBA might or might not be able to go retina for sipmle face of battery like everyone has been saying. IF they really push hard, obviously, it can happen but I will be on my 2012 MBA 13 till 2014... and will pick up rMBA!

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