MacBook Air refresh looks set for WWDC, potentially with faster Wi-Fi

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Apple appears set to release new versions of its MacBook Air notebook computer at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, according to information provided by a source. Earlier this week, we reported that Apple is planning to release four new Mac models at WWDC, and we narrowed this down to either new MacBook Pro with Retina display models or MacBook Air models.

Today, we have received specific pricing for the aforementioned SKUs, and the price-points correspond to Apple’s current pricing for the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. We have yet to receive pricing information that points to the imminent availability of new MacBook Pros (as some had hoped), but perhaps the next refresh to Apple’s Pro portables will arrive in the coming months. Supply constraints to the Retina MacBook Pro line seems to imply that…

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Intel officially launches 4th gen Haswell processors bound for next-gen Macs just in time for WWDC

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We’ve told you several times in recent months about Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors that are largely expected to replace Apple’s current Ivy Bridge offerings in the next round of Macs. Now, ahead of Apple’s expected WWDC announcements, Intel has just officially launched its next-gen processors. The company confirmed that quad-core versions of the chips are available now with availability of ultrabooks, all-in-ones, laptops and desktops planned for this summer.

Intel says the processors provide up to a 50 percent improvement in battery life (the biggest gain in the history of Intel’s processors), and double the graphics performance of previous generation chips thanks to its ‘Iris’ technology.

Delivering Intel’s largest generation-over-generation gain in battery life enablement in company history, 4th generation Intel Core processors can bring an 50 percent improvement in battery life over the previous generation in active workloads when watching movies or surfing the Internet, and two to three times improvement in standby battery life. For some systems coming to market this year, over 9 hours of active use battery life or 10 to 13 days of standby with fresh data on a single charge is expected.

Earlier this year we saw stats from early performance tests showing Haswell will provide some notable performance boosts for MacBooks, and we’ve also heard reports that the 4th-gen Intel processors will be headed to iMacs and Mac minis towards the end of the year.

In a more recent report, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple will introduce new MacBook Pro and Air updates next week at WWDC that will include an upgrade to Haswell. Yesterday, we posted even more evidence with SKUs showing that Apple is likely planning a MacBook refresh. Read more

Intel announces 2014 Thunderbolt update with 4K support; opens door for Retina iMacs?

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Retina iMac mockup via MacSpoilers

Today, Intel announced a new version of its Thunderbolt technology that will ship with devices in 2014. The new Thunderbolt technology supports up to 20Gbps throughput, which is up from the 10 Gbps supported by the current version of Thunderbolt.

Notably, the new technology supports 4K resolutions, which could open the door for even higher-resolution Mac displays. Perhaps, this is the technology that Apple needs to work with in order to begin a Retina display rollout for its all-in-one desktop computer, the iMac, or even Mac Pro compatible Thunderbolt displays.

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Haswell preview suggests similar gains to Ivy Bridge over Sandy Bridge

A detailed performance test of a prototype Core i7 Haswell chip by tom’s Hardware suggests that it will offer a 7 percent to 13 percent performance gain over equivalent Ivy Bridge CPUs—a similar gain to that experienced with the move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge.

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The integrated HD 4600 GPU experiences an impressive speed boost of almost 30 percent, but the website noted that this still won’t allow for comfortable gaming on HD monitors, so gamers will need discrete graphics chips.

While performance gains reached up to 75 percent in the case of some specific tasks, the gains for typical desktop applications are relatively modest.

Report: Apple to launch 11- and 13-inch Retina MacBook Air in Q3

MacBook AirAccording to a translated report from Taiwanese publication Economic Daily (via Macotakara), Apple is apparently in the process of preparing suppliers for the launch of a Retina MacBook Air in Q3 2013. The report appears to claim that both 11- and 13-inch variants of the MacBook Air will launch with Retina displays in addition to an upgrade from Intel’s new Haswell platform. Apple supplier Quanta is expected to begin receiving shipments of the new components in the second quarter, according to Economic Daily.

Today’s report of course goes against recent claims from analysts predicting the next-gen MacBook Air would land in Q2 or Q3 without a Retina display. We heard last year that Apple was working on MacBook Airs with Retina displays, but sources indicated the power drawn from the Retina Displays combined with the thin and light form factor of the MacBook Air may pose challenges for Apple and its product manufacturers. Read more

Apple CEO Tim Cook ordered to give deposition in anti-poaching lawsuit

Tim-Cook-apologyApple CEO Tim Cook has been ordered by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose to give a deposition related to an ongoing private lawsuit that claims Apple, Google, and others entered “no-poach” agreements, as reported by Bloomberg. Cook isn’t the only executive named in yesterday’s order. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will also be deposed on Feb. 20, as well as Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini later this month.

Koh told lawyers yesterday that Apple founder Steve Jobs was copied on e-mails at issue in the case, and that she found it “hard to believe” that Cook, as Apple’s chief operating officer at the time in question, wouldn’t have been consulted about such agreements.

The judge said she was disappointed that senior executives at the companies involved hadn’t been deposed before yesterday’s hearing over whether she should certify the case as a group lawsuit. The class would include different categories of employees whose incomes, their lawyers argue, were artificially reduced because of the collusion. Koh didn’t rule on class certification. Read more