updated 09:50 am EDT, Thu August 14, 2008
MacBook Air Update Rumor
Apple's first revision to the MacBook Air will see a clock speed boost as well as a storage upgrade, according to a newly prominent rumor. The report claims the 13.3-inch lightweight portable will switch from Apple's custom-ordered 65 nanometer processors to a reference 45 nanometer, Penryn-based design. Upgrading will allegedly reduce the clock speed gap and let the MacBook Air's Core 2 Duo chip push 2GHz "and beyond," according to the leak.
However, this swap will allegedly create a power increase and require that Apple supply the system with a 60-watt power supply rather than the smaller 45-watt unit that comes with the existing model. The internal design is described as closer to that of the standard MacBook, though whether it will be based on some components of Intel's Centrino 2 platform or use a rumored custom design is unknown.
The refresh would nonetheless see a storage upgrade if proven accurate; dropping 1.8-inch hard drive costs would reportedly let Apple outfit the base system with a 120GB disk and the option of a 160GB model. A solid-state drive would be an option with this version, though capacities haven't been mentioned; pricing is said to stay the same as after the recent price cut.
While unverified and potentially inaccurate, the rumor suggests an "imminent" launch and that retailers are being warned of the upgrade in advance, providing a short turnaround for confirmation of the report.
Additionally, the claim is also supported by references to technology that is expected to reach the future ultraportable. Intel is widely known to be producing low-voltage 45 nanometer processors by late September that would come in the small chip package needed for the MacBook Air; the chips will consume less power at 17W versus the 20W of Apple's current hardware, but are also clocked only slighly faster at 1.6GHz and 1.83GHz and would thus have room for faster clock speeds. The company regularly offers systems with non-standard performance, including both the MacBook Air as well as current-generation iMacs.
Toshiba in turn is just starting mass-production of a 160GB 1.8-inch drive and already has a 120GB drive on the market. Prices for solid-state drives have also dropped sharply helped in part by multi-level cell storage, which will be part of new Samsung 128GB SSDs that have already begun shipping. Apple is currently using Samsung's 64GB SSD based on single-level cell technology.