updated 08:15 am EST, Fri February 11, 2011
MacBook Air may go to Intel Sandy Bridge in June
Apple's move to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors should reach the MacBook Air in June, a rumor asserted on Friday. The claim had few details but would lead to the 11- and 13-inch ultraportables using Core i3, i5 or i7 processors. CNET in providing the details didn't know if the chipset flaw would affect the shipments.
The Air would get a significant leap in performance with the revision. The current models use low voltage and ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo processors and, while much faster than other notebooks in their size and weight profiles, lag significantly behind even the current full-size MacBooks in speed. They would still likely be slower than any future refreshes of higher end models but would be much more comparable in speed.
Apple is expected to return to using Intel graphics due to the continued Intel ban on NVIDIA chipsets, but the Sandy Bridge architecture eliminates most of the complaints about performance. It can perform roughly as well as low-end dedicated graphics and so far only lacks OpenCL support. The swap may lower the price since Apple wouldn't need a custom-made NVIDIA chipset.
Other updates, such as to the MacBook Pro, could happen soon and may be ready in March if the chipset flaw hasn't held back releases.