Intel officially launches 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, will likely add improved A/V, USB 3.0, more to future Macs

After months of talking about its features, Intel officially launches its new Ivy Bridge processor today. As we previously reported, this processor is undoubtedly headed to the next line of Macs, and it will help provide some significant feature updates. The processor is a 22-nanometer 3D transistor chip that will be more efficient than the bigger Sandy Bridge processors it replaces. It is initially available in 13 quad-core models in both the i5 and i7 versions. According to Intel, lower-end i3 and i5 models will launch later this spring.

One big aspect to note is that the Ivy Bridge also features on-chip USB 3.0 – a technology Apple is long-rumored to adopt. While may Apple not choose to take that route, the likelihood of it using the now built-in USB 3.0 tech has grown exponentially.

Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group Kirk Skaugen told the crowd at the Intel Developer Forum earlier this month that the Ivy Bridge Processor is built for Retina display computers, “if OEMs choose to use it.” This is especially interesting, because Apple is rumored to include a Retina-like display thanks to a slue of hints in the developer preview of Mountain Lion. Retina would be a game changer on the displays of Apple’s Pro/Air. Intel’s new 4000 chipset supports up to 4K resolutions natively, and it supports improved audio and security functions that Apple may or may not choose to take advantage of.

With the official launch of the Ivy Bridge processor, the launch of new Macs does not seem to be that far off. The new processor will most likely be found throughout the Mac line, including the MacBook Air, iMac, Mini, and MacBook Pro.

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Poll: Are you waiting for the new Ivy Bridge models to get a Mac?

Like some of you, I am limping by on my 2010 MacBook Air, but I have been anxiously waiting for this Ivy Bridge lineup of MacBooks to get released before buying a new Mac. As Walt Mossberg said, it is a good idea to wait until the new Apple products come out to upgrade, but it is starting to feel like forever (I know—it has only been a few months).

Are you waiting for Ivy Bridge before buying a new Mac?

(Image via Reddit)

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Intel VP: Ivy Bridge processor is built for ‘Retina display’ computers

At the Intel Developer Forum that took place yesterday, Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group Kirk Skaugen revealed (14:30 mark) that Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge Processor is built for Retina display computers, “if OEMs choose to use it.”

“Retina display” is a marketing term coined by Apple to describe a screen where one cannot discern pixels at an average usage distance with 20/20 vision. It is curious that Intel’s VP used an Apple term to describe high-density computer displays for the broader market.

Apple is set to use Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor in its next line Macs, making it an opportune time to introduce its Retina display technology into the Mac line. The Ivy Bridge processor, without help from discrete graphics processors, can power 2560-by-1600 displays (as Skaugen said), which is four times the current resolution found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That would look pretty good on 13-inch displays of Apple’s Pro/Air.

Apple’s bigger, high-end notebooks have typically had help from discrete graphics processors. To make bigger displays “Retina,” Apple would likely need to add more GPU processing power.

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Ivy Bridge launching April 23 as next-gen Thunderbolt ships, likely to land in next Macs

Today, we have two pieces of Intel-related news with reports claiming a solid April 23 launch date for the Ivy Bridge introduction, while others report Intel has begun shipping its next-generation Thunderbolt technology.

Late last month, we heard reports from CPU World, which claimed Ivy Bridge CPUs most-likely to land in future Macs would launch between April 22 and April 28 with availability by April 29. Today, we get a solid launch date with Cnet and various other sources reporting Intel will start its initial rollout April 23. As we detailed previously, many of the Ivy Bridge models included in the initial launch would be suitable for MacBook Pro-like devices and desktop offerings. However, Intel’s Ultra low-voltage U-Series Ivy Bridge processors most likely headed for MacBook Air-like designs are expected to launch in June.

Intel today said there would be over 100 Thunderbolt devices by year-end and another report coming from VR-Zone today claimed Intel started shipping its second-generation Thunderbolt controllers codenamed “Cactus Ridge,” which would align nicely if both these updates are headed to future Macs…
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Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge Quad-Core i7-3770K benchmarked on Mac OS 10.7.3

With Apple’s next round of Macs likely to include Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors recently confirmed for an April launch, there is still some speculation about which processors from the lineup will land in certain Macs. Rumors today point toward a refreshed iMac. Moreover, new Benchmark tests (via tonymacx86) submitted to Geekbench show Apple’s desktop operating system performing with the 3.5GHz Quad-Core i7-3770K, which is one of Intel’s most powerful Ivy Bridge chips suitable for desktops.

Note: The “Mac Pro” in the above screen capture is the profile used by the Hackintosh user, not the hardware. Also, note that the user had to modify the kernel to employ these new chips, which will also see further optimizations by Apple.

Geekbench user “hiwa” obviously had to use a Hackintosh to boot with the new chip. A Z77 motherboard was used in this case. Some benchmarks listed by the user demonstrate scores higher than any current Apple hardware. It is unclear what machine the benchmarks performed on, but it is clear Ivy Bridge is posting some impressive results compared with current Mac hardware.

While the benchmarks above show the Core i7-3770K desktop chip, Intel Product Manager Anand Kajshmanan claimed Apple’s MacBooks (likely to include Ivy Bridge CPUs in the near future) would face strong competition from Intel-powered Ultrabooks. In an interview with PC World, Anand was asked why a person would choose an Ultrabook over a MacBook Air or even an iPad:

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Fun new MacBook Touch concept would make a great mobile device

With the Intel CPU news today, a 9to5Mac commenter posted the above fake commercial in our comments.

The joint mechanism is obviously a fake, but  it would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a 360-degree hinge on the next generation of MacBooks coupled with a touch display —especially because Apple has taken the Mac OS in the same direction as iOS during the last few years.

More usability is made available in the MacBook with a 360-degree hinge, but it also creates less need for an iPad, which does not bode well for this concept.

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The next Macs will likely have one of these Intel Ivy Bridge processors, due in a month

Ivy Bridge CPUs launching by April 29

We have heard reports in recent months that the launch of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor lineup, which will likely find its way into next-generation Apple products, has been delayed. While an April/May launch was expected for some of the lineup initially, Intel confirmed in February that the launch would likely be pushed to June. Today, a report from CPU World that cited various sources claimed the Ivy Bridge CPUs, including both desktop and mobile chips, will launch between April 22 and April 28.

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Report: Apple to return to Nvidia for Mac Pro graphics in Nehalem update

It looks like Apple could (again) select the graphics giant Nvidia as the primary GPU provider for the upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh. According to a mostly speculative story by MIC Gadget based on unnamed industry sources, new Mac Pros will feature Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset fabbed on the chip maker’s latest 22-nanometer Trigate transistor technology (no surprise there). According to Intel, 22nm Ivy Bridge silicon claims a 37 percent speed jump and lower power consumption compared to the chip giant’s 32 nanometer planar transistors. ‘Trigate’ Ivy Bridge chips can feature up to eight processing cores and are more power-savvy, so they should help scale frequency, too. On a more interesting note, MIC Gadget speculates Apple could switch back to Nvidia as the primary supplier of next-generation GPUs for the new Mac Pros.

Nvidia has their “Kepler” platform due out around the same time as Intel is making their changes, and our sources within the company indicate that they have chosen to have Nvidia lead the charge so to speak on the graphics front.

Eagle-eyed readers could mention that AMD recently released the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card powered by the Tahiti GPU (its nearest rival is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590), with observes deeming it Apple’s go-to graphics card for future Mac Pros. Indeed, traces of support for Tahiti-driven AMD GPUs are found in Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, at least indicating people might be able to upgrade their future Mac Pro with this card. Oh, and it’s great for Hackintosh builders, too.

Also indicative is a March 2011 Snow Leopard 10.6.7 update that enabled support for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which were in Macs at the time. On the other hand, a speculative switch to Nvidia would not be out of character as California-based Apple is known for frequently switching between Nvidia chips and those manufactured by rival AMD…

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Intel’s new 520 Series SSD benchmarked: Easy on the battery, great data protection and compression features

Intel announced today the new 520 Series solid-state storage code-named “Cherryville” and a number of tech websites and blogs already have their reviews up. The Verge has a nice review round up, and MacWorld’s own review provides an extensive overview of the pros and cons of the device. Fabbed on Intel’s 25nm Multi-Level Cell process, the 520 boasts sequential read/write performance of 550/520MBps when using a system with a SATA 3.0 6Gbps interface. The spec sheet positions the 520 Series as a solution for media creators and tech enthusiasts.

Still, Samsung’s comparable 830 Series came in fastest during Tech Report’s review (see the chart below the fold), with sequential read/write speeds of 500/350MBps on a SATA 3.0 6Gbps interface. We reviewed the Samsung 830 and found it to be the fastest available. In addition, the 830 SSD is almost $150 cheaper and it is going into MacBook Airs soon, unlike the 520 Series that comes in a 2.5-inch form factor—so it only fits inside MacBook and MacBook Pros.

MacWorld’s review achieved read-writes of 303/324MBps (sequential) and 303/338MBps (random) with Xbench 1.3 and 456/241MBps in read/writes using Blackmagic benchmarking software with 4K blocks. The 520 Series also has lower-than-usual power requirements and delights with strong data protection and compression features…

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Apple, Google, and five other companies must face lawsuit over no-poaching agreements

Late last week we told you that the U.S. Justice Department apparently had evidence that Apple, along along with Google, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, Intel, and Lucasfilms, entered “no-poach” agreements as part of an antitrust investigation from 2010. U.S. District Judge Lucy H Koh made a statement yesterday at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., confirming the companies must face a lawsuit. According to the report from Bloomberg, Koh said she would allow plaintiffs to re-file their complaint even if an initial request by the defendants to dismiss the claims is granted.  

Judge Koh’s decision yesterday will result in Google and the other companies having to provide a detailed account of the agreements made with other companies. They must also allow lawyers to take depositions. One lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Joseph Saveri, said, “We get to see what really happened,” claiming the case could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Google provided statements to Bloomberg claiming they have “always actively and aggressively recruited top talent,” while the others have declined to comment.
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Intel looking to use its new Medfield chip in the iPhone

Intel is looking to use its recently unveiled Medfield chips in the iPhone, according to The Telegraph. In the report, Dave Whalen, vice president of Intel’s architecture group, told The Telegraph that Intel has talked to Apple and other manufacturers about using the new Medfield chips in iOS devices. Specifically, Whalen said as iOS continues to grow, “We talk to everybody.” Intel is also looking to Android and Windows Phone to use the new chips.

It is worth noting that it is highly unlikely Apple would move to Intel chips in iOS devices, even though the company uses Intel in Macs. Since the iPhone 4, Apple has continued to use its own line of processors—with the help of Samsung. The iPhone 4 was graced with the A4, the iPad 2 had the A5, and most recently— the iPhone 4S got the A5. The iPad 3 is rumored to get the quad-core A6 (mock up on the right), and going off Apple’s recent timeline, the iPhone 5 will most likely have the A6.

The most unique aspect about the Medfield chip is that it is a single core, unlike Intel’s previous chips. The Medfield uses the ARM chips’ strategy, in pulling all processes onto a single chip, which helps to save battery life and other things. For now, it looks Apple will most likely stick with its own proprietary chips. Samsung recently opened a factory in Texas for developing the A5 chip, showing Apple is committed to producing its own goods. Therefore, it is interesting that Intel is trying to make a move.

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CES 2012: Intel fakes ‘live’ Ultrabook demo, mulls massive advertising campaign to push MacBook Air-killers [UPDATE 2x]

UPDATE 1: As several commenters pointed out, it’s probably meant as a gag as Intel executive at one point joked about driving one handed and then without hands at all. The distinction remains unclear though due to audio not being clear enough. Nevertheless, the question remains: Why run the thing through backstage and not give a real-life demo?

UPDATE 2: Acknowledging “the confusion”, the publication followed-up with hands-on video showing F1 2011 running in real-time on the exact same system that Mooley Eden had been using to run the pre-recorded VLC video demo. Find it included at the article bottom, below the fold.

It looks like chip giant Intel has gone too far by attempting to have prospective buyers sold on Ultrabooks. Bright Side of News* editor Anshel Sag caught Intel’s Mooley Eden cheating during yesterday’s press conference at the CES show in Las Vegas. Mooley can be seen in the below video fake-driving a commonplace racing game by Codemasters called F1 2011.

In reality —and you can see it briefly at the beginning of the clip— he simply played back a video file using VLC media player and proceeded to fool the audience into believing they were witnessing a live demonstration of the graphical capabilities of the Ivy Bridge platform that powers forthcoming Ultrabook notebooks.

This prompted the author to dub the unbelievable move a display as “a gross distrust of their own demo.”  Intel promised a massive advertising campaign to help push MacBook Air-like notebooks that have been struggling to steal the limelight of Apple’s machine.


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