What are potential iterations on future MacBook?

mikeray

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Original poster
Jan 17, 2006
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Brooklyn, NY
Do you guys think the next version of the MacBook will get Thunderbolt 3? I have the 2015 MacBook maxed out, and honestly I'm in love with this form factor. The Air is too big.

If the MacBook ever added Thunderbolt 3 and the ability to power the 5k retina display at 60hz it would be the perfect upgrade. Would love to add a second port as well, but I can live without it.

I disagree with what a lot of people are saying online, I think the MacBook still has a place in Apple's lineup, I think they are just waiting to do another iteration so they can showcase the Air.
 

Florida Gator

macrumors regular
Feb 26, 2004
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Here are the ones I think are most likely, in no particular order:

1. Apple updates 12" MacBook in next 12 months to include Amber Lake Y processors and Touch ID. I don't think we'll get True Tone P3 displays or a second USB-C port. Likely wouldn't support Thunderbolt because of chipset and heat.

2. Apple updates 12" MacBook in the next 18 months with ARM processor and Touch ID. Processor and memory are non-configurable and the only options are storage. No Thunderbolt, but can power a 5K retina display at 60hz.

3. Apple does nothing. Tells customers to either get an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard or 13" MacBook Air.
 
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Zorori

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Nov 26, 2017
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Always interested in a move to ARM. I've been looking at the Windows ARM laptops to see how they perform (despite the Apple chips outperforming Snapdragons, etc.) They cost similar to the MacBook and should be a good benchmark, I'd expect Apple to move in after watching other vendors fail.

The Snapdragon 835 was good for native apps and terrible for emulated stuff. Reviews of these devices will show you the 835 is actually decent -- performance is similar to the low power i3 chips when running applications built for ARM. The A11 crushes the 835 and even the newer 850. So the timing may actually be right for the switch and I can see the MacBook being the testbed. It would make the machine a completely different device to the Air...
 

The Samurai

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Dec 29, 2007
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I do believe that if apple wanted to kill this line they would have done so at this October event by removing it from the cluster F of a line up which they now have.

My gut feeling is that the only reason it wasn’t updated is that they didn’t have the processors available OR that this MacBook will be the first to get ARM in the next year.

I, too, love this Macbook although I don’t own one. I would love to own one but can’t jump on it knowing an update is due. It puts the new MBA weight to shame!
 

HappyIntro

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Apr 30, 2016
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Unless they find a way to increase the battery's capacity, the MacBook may not get much of an update until (if) they make the switch to ARM. To get TB ports they'd need to add a controller chip, and it also seems like Apple is pushing to get all its Macs to have a T2-type chip included as well. Both of those chips could increase the power draw on the battery, lowering battery life unacceptably. Also, the MacBook's motherboard is tiny, so I'm not sure how easy it would be to add the extra circuitry to accommodate TB controller and T2 chips. Also Amber Lake Y chips don't seem to add much extra performance, just a small clock speed bump. So there's potential downsides to updates in its current incarnation.

So unless they can squeeze a slightly larger battery in the MB's case, and perhaps enlarge the motherboard, I don't think TB3 will be a feature in the next update.
 

Florida Gator

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Feb 26, 2004
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I do believe that if apple wanted to kill this line they would have done so at this October event by removing it from the cluster F of a line up which they now have.
Or they don't know what they are going to do with it and plan to let it sit 12-36 months (like they have with basically every other Mac) until they make a decision.
 

curmudgeonette

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Jan 28, 2016
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Also, the MacBook's motherboard is tiny, so I'm not sure how easy it would be to add the extra circuitry to accommodate TB controller and T2 chips.
The T2 is just a little bigger than the rMB12's SSD controller (which it replaces.) The T2 also eliminates a separate SMC and a Broadcom chip plus associated RAM (camera controller?) All in all, this saves space.

I've spent a long time staring at pictures of the rMB12 board versus the rMBA board. The rMBA board is longer and little bit skinnier. One end is occupied by the Thunderbolt interface - an Intel chip, two TI helpers, and passives. The rMB does not have this, instead having a USB-C Alt Mode mux on the I/O board. Ignoring the TB3 portion, the rMBA board is only a little bigger than the rMB's.

The biggest difference is that the rMBA board has no thick components on the flip side. This is likely to leave enough thickness for the CPU heatsink on the main side of the board. Consequently, the component density isn't as high on the flip side. Contrastingly, the rMB's PCB can be in middle of the space, allowing dense use of both sides.
 
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The Samurai

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Or they don't know what they are going to do with it and plan to let it sit 12-36 months (like they have with basically every other Mac) until they make a decision.
If we were in 2015/16, I would agree with you.

In the last year or so, Apple has learnt the lesson the hard way with so many people complaining about the Mac side that they've had to bring promises (and delivered); Mac Pro (2019), Pro Display (2019), Macbook Air and Mac Mini as of recent. Given this, I don't think they would make the same mistake twice.
 

Admiral

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Mar 14, 2015
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2. Apple updates 12" MacBook in the next 18 months with ARM processor and Touch ID. Processor and memory are non-configurable and the only options are storage. No Thunderbolt, but can power a 5K retina display at 60hz.
I for one would be extremely curious to understand what interface would drive a 5K Retina display at 60hz, if not Thunderbolt 3. USB 3.2? I don't think that would have the necessary bandwidth.
 
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HappyIntro

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Apr 30, 2016
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The T2 is just a little bigger than the rMB12's SSD controller (which it replaces.) The T2 also eliminates a separate SMC and a Broadcom chip plus associated RAM (camera controller?) All in all, this saves space.

I've spent a long time staring at pictures of the rMB12 board versus the rMBA board. The rMBA board is longer and little bit skinnier. One end is occupied by the Thunderbolt interface - an Intel chip, two TI helpers, and passives. The rMB does not have this, instead having a USB-C Alt Mode mux on the I/O board. Ignoring the TB3 portion, the rMBA board is only a little bigger than the rMB's.

The biggest difference is that the rMBA board has no thick components on the flip side. This is likely to leave enough thickness for the CPU heatsink on the main side of the board. Consequently, the component density isn't as high on the flip side. Contrastingly, the rMB's PCB can be in middle of the space, allowing dense use of both sides.
Cool, thanks for your observations. This makes me think that it's at least possible to update the rMB12 with TB and T2 chip. I'd like to see Apple do it. I am in love with my rMB12's form factor, but would appreciate a second USB port with at least one of them also being TB3.
 

curmudgeonette

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Jan 28, 2016
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I for one would be extremely curious to understand what interface would drive a 5K Retina display at 60hz, if not Thunderbolt 3. USB 3.2?
DisplayPort 1.3, i.e. DisplayPort alternate mode of USB-C. The latest iPads can do this, i.e. the A12X has such an interface.

This makes me think that it's at least possible to update the rMB12 with TB and T2 chip.
Circuit board real estate: Maybe yes. Power and heat: Maybe no. There are many reports that an rMB12 running a 4K display gets warm and/or throttles. Doubling the number of pixels driven by an Intel iGPU may not be possible without adding some sort of heat sink and fan ala rMBA.
 

ascender

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Dec 8, 2005
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There's obviously still a market for people who want an ultra-portable Mac laptop which is a good thing.

There might be a few different reasons as to why its not been spec-bumped recently, but I've no doubt this will be the first ARM-based Mac. I guess its whether or not they make an interim move to update it with TouchID and a T2, or just wait for the big revision.

Given the role this laptop plays for a lot of people, I can understand why they're in no rush to update it - there's also the Intel issues to take in to account I guess.
 

EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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Given the crappy worse-than-standard custom Amber Lake CPU in the MacBook Air, it makes sense Apple didn’t update the 12” MacBook. The current standard Amber Lake i7 and probably i5 chip would be faster in short bursts at 5 Watts than Apple’s custom 7 W Amber Lake chip. And at 7 Watts, the other Amber Lake i5 and i7 would be consistently faster. As it is now, Apple’s i5-8210Y is only marginally faster than the 4.5 W Kaby Lake 2017 i7-7Y75.

That might suggest Apple might just wait until Cannon Lake in late 2019 to update both the MacBook and the MacBook Air. ie. Again with Intel chips in 2019.

Since Cannon Lake likely will not include Thunderbolt, it’s quite possible the MacBook won’t get Thunderbolt until 2020, whether it’s Intel Ice Lake or Apple ARM A14X.
 

scrappygolucky

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Sep 15, 2018
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I have a question: if Apple makes the next Macbook ARM-based, will old third-party software still work on it? Like MS Office and what not.
 

Neodym

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I have a question: if Apple makes the next Macbook ARM-based, will old third-party software still work on it? Like MS Office and what not.
Windows 10 is available on ARM already, but it only supports 32bit and compatibility problems occur in many smaller things.

I would thus expect Apple to offer some kind of emulation, similar to the "Rosetta" approach during the transition to Intel. Whether they would develop it in-house or use existing code (e.g. VirtualBox adapted for ARM), remains to be seen.

There are voices which claim that - with an emulation available - third-party companies may not be interested to port software to macOS, thus weakening the platform as a whole. While I can see some truth in that reasoning, I feel that today's IT world is dominated by Windows, like it or not. Therefore I feel that Apple needs to offer _some_ support for Win software.

However, with Apple being Apple, that "support" may well consist of upselling you to their "Pro" devices, with Intel CPU's (or powerful ARM's with well-integrated emulator) providing sufficient compatibility.

ARM-equipped (entry-level) Macs could then be macOS-only and - honestly - for quite a significant number of users that would be all they'd ever need. Even more so, if Apple covers basic needs by providing software packages for e.g. Internet, Office and light A/V editing.

In another forum someone speculated that Apple's recent announcement (to drop support of certain codecs in the next macOS release) may well hint to ARM-equipped Macs (and codec depreciation occuring due to companies like Sony or Adobe being unwilling to port their codecs to the new CPU platform).
 
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BODYBUILDERPAUL

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Feb 9, 2009
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Here are the ones I think are most likely, in no particular order:

1. Apple updates 12" MacBook in next 12 months to include Amber Lake Y processors and Touch ID. I don't think we'll get True Tone P3 displays or a second USB-C port. Likely wouldn't support Thunderbolt because of chipset and heat.

2. Apple updates 12" MacBook in the next 18 months with ARM processor and Touch ID. Processor and memory are non-configurable and the only options are storage. No Thunderbolt, but can power a 5K retina display at 60hz.

3. Apple does nothing. Tells customers to either get an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard or 13" MacBook Air.
I'm truly hoping number 2!!! For me, the 12" MacBook is Apple's finest design of all time!
 
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Aquamite

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Oct 2, 2014
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In another forum someone speculated that Apple's recent announcement (to drop support of certain codecs in the next macOS release) may well hint to ARM-equipped Macs (and codec depreciation occuring due to companies like Sony or Adobe being unwilling to port their codecs to the new CPU platform).
Can you link to that new about potential dropped codec support in future macOS releases?
 

fokmik

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Oct 28, 2016
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Since the Macbook will be updated in 2019, so 4 years after the release, it will have some sort of redesign and i guess it will be the (after being the first fanless mac) first ARM mac
 
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