updated 03:40 pm EDT, Fri May 20, 2011
Intel has faster Sandy Bridge ULV chips due soon
Intel is gearing up a new round of ultra-low voltage processors based on Sandy Bridge that would be an ideal fit for a new MacBook Air. A leak this week has shown a trio of Core i5 and i7 models that would all be faster than the 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz chips on offer now. The Core i5 2557M seen by CPU World would run at 1.7GHz but Turbo Boost to 2.7GHz; the Core i7 2637M and 2677M would run at 1.7GHz and 1.8GHz but scale higher to 2.8GHz and 2.9GHz each.
All three would be dual-core, Hyperthreaded processors with graphics cores that range from 350MHz through to 1.2GHz when in full boost. Like existing chips, the i5's only difference apart from lower clock speeds would be its use of a slightly smaller 3MB of Level 3 cache instead of the 4MB on the i7. At 17W of total power between the processor and graphics, they could be efficient enough to run in smalelr ultraportables.
All of the chips would arrive sometime "later this year."
Their existence isn't a guarantee that Apple would use the chips, as it depends on whether or not Intel would have them ready in time for the June or July releases identified by multiple sources. If in time, though, they could significantly step up the baseline performance for the Air or any other ultraportable, including Acer's Timeline series.