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?
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 Cnetand various other sourcesreporting 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 fromVR-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… Read more
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 withPC World, Anand was asked why a person would choose an Ultrabook over a MacBook Air or even an iPad:
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.
The high-profile Apple business with Asian contract manufacturer Pegatron Technology is facing scrutiny as the iPhone-maker is reportedly exercising its supply chain influence by asking Pegatron to drop new Ultrabook orders from Asustek or else it will lose orders for iOS devices. According to today’s article in Chinese-language Commercial Times, the similarities between Apple’s MacBook Air and Asustek’s Zenbook (released last year) instigated the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm to demand that Pegatron choose sides. As you know, the unique unibody metal enclosure of Apple’s notebooks is manufactured by Catcher Technology.
Pegatron currently assembles Asustek’s ultra-thin Zenbook family, but it will stop doing so by the end of March. As a result, Asustek will have to outsource the Zenbooks to either Compal Electronics or Wistron. Pegatron only recently landed iPhone orders and is hoping to assemble iPads, too. The Japanese blog Macotakarareported last month that Pegatron and Foxconn began assembly of iPad 3 for an early-March launch.
Even though the initial batch of Ultrabooks largely disappointed, upcoming models are looking to close the gap with lower prices and a unibody construction. Chinese-language Apple Daily reported in January (viaDigiTimes) that Pegatron landed orders for at least five Ultrabooks by second-tier brands set to ship in April or May. One tiny interesting bit: Pegatron is an Asustek spin-off that happens to make Ultrabooks for other vendors, too.
Apple’s MacBook Air (left) and Asustek’s Zenbook (right). Image vie Ecoustics.com
Typically a solid indicator of an Apple product refresh is when the previous model of that particular product begins to see constraints and shortages. We saw this process prior to the launch of the iPad 2 in March of 2011, and we typically also see this process to prior to launches of Apple’s new Macs. Some examples from recent memory include MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac constraints prior to their 2011 refreshes. Now, the same situation is starting to occur with the iPad 2, a device that will most likely be succeeded by a third-generation iPad in about a month.
According to a source familiar with Apple’s product distribution channels, the iPad 2 WiFi + 3G is constrained. Supply shortages span beyond Apple’s own distribution channels, though, as major retailers are reporting “out of stock” status for the 3G iPad 2. This includes, but is likely not limited to, Carphone Warehouse and Orange in the United Kingdom. Carphone Warehouse is reporting shortges of five out of six of their 3G iPad 2 models (everything but the black 64GB unit), and Orange UK is reporting shortages of half of the 3G iPad 2 SKUs: both 32GB models and the white 64GB unit. Read on for all of the details: