You may have heard rumors that Apple is hard at work developing a new MacBook Pro sporting an ultra-thin design akin to the MacBook Air. Despite prototypes reportedly being tested, little is known of specs or other features. One thing seems pretty plausible: Redesigned MacBooks are most likely to utilize the current-generation 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge chips rather than Intel’s upcoming 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge platform. Swedish web site Sweclockers.com has found out that the chip maker won’t have Ivy Bridge chips available in volume until April 2012, despite first silicon prototypes arriving soon. On top of that, Intel will first ship quad-core Ivy Bridge chips for desktop computers and dual-core counterparts for notebooks will arrive a few weeks later, meaning around the summer of 2012.
Assuming Apple refreshes the MacBook Pro lineup with said ultra-thin design this year (the last update was in late February), the machines will run current-generation Sandy Bridge chips, even with the preferential treatment Apple’s been getting from Intel (the chip giant is known for giving Apple exclusive access to unreleased SKUs). Then, six or so months later, Apple portables should adopt the Ivy Bridge platform. As noted by Hardmac, “we could see Apple using one if its usual strategies to revamp the sales without changing a lot inside”, which is how the company had gone about the original unibody MacBooks unveiled in October 2008. The delay in bringing the Ivy Bridge platform to market is likely to affect the iMac family as well.
A MacBook Pro redesign is said to be based around all-flash storage and the removal of optical drive, just like the Air, yielding a dramatically thinner appearance. It is also entirely conceivable that eventually all Apple notebooks will adopt this dramatically thin design. Of course, customers who need optical media can always get an optional $99 external SuperDrive. It remains to be seen how the average crowd reacts to Apple ditching optical drives from their notebooks. According to personal observations of customers at Apple Stores by Cody Fink for MacStories.net, “if it wasn’t the first comment, the second immediate observation was that the [MacBook Air] was missing a ‘CD-Rom drive’, and for some it was “a deal breaker”. Apple is known for killing outdated technologies and bringing future tech ahead of everyone else. They no longer ship their computers with Flash Player pre-installed and the company was first to drop floppy drives in favor of USB on iMacs back in the 1990s. Today, we see Apple working in tandem with Intel on new technologies such as Thunderbolt. Apple also has never adopted a “bag of hurt” that is Blu-ray. Put simply, it is obvious now that Apple is upgrading all their products with instant-on, all-flash, no-physical-media features stemming from wireless access to their online stores that sell digital entertainment and software. You may also recall Apple no longer ships their own apps as boxed copies, including iLife, iWork and other software, favoring the Mac App Store distribution instead.