MacBook Pro update sneaks in under radar


 

MacBook Pro at the desktop.

Apple has quietly sneaked in some updates to its MacBook range of laptops. Processors were update by miniscule amounts; just 0.1 and 0.2 GHz (yes, I’m afraid its not 1 and 2 GHz!). Hard drives were updated by 180GB and 250GB and the graphic cards have also been given a boost.

Here are the details:

  • 13″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.4 GHz processor and 500 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.3 GHz and 320 GB.
  • 13″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.8 GHz processor and 750 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.7 GHz and 500 GB.
  • 15″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.2 GHz processor, up from 2.0 GHz. The 500 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6750M with 512MB VRAM (up from a 6490M/256).
  • 15″ MacBook Pro high-end model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 2.3 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6770M with 1GB of VRAM.
  • 17″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive has not changed. Its AMD GPU is also a 6770M with 1 GB VRAM (up from the 6750M).

Prices remain unchanged s although this isn’t a major update its nevertheless a welcome one.

Macbook Air – Intel’s new ULV chipset rumoured as CPU choice


Intel Core i7 logo as of 2009

Image via Wikipedia

As rumours hot up about the next refresh to the Macbook Air range, the question on everyone’s lips is which CPU will Apple go with; will it be Intel’s new ULV chipset?  Intel recently announced the specification and price fo the new ultra low voltage (hence the ULV moniker):

  • Core i7-2677M: 2 cores, 1.8 GHz (turbo boost to 2.9 GHz), 4 MB cache, 17 watts, $317
  • Core i7-2637M: 2 cores, 1.7 GHz (turbos to 2.8 GHz), 4 MB cache, 17 watts, $289
  • Core i5-2557M: 2 cores, 1.7 GHz (turbos to 2.7 GHz), 3 MB cache, 17 watts, $250

Certainly, with the Macbook Air, the ULV chipset would seem to be the way to go. There has been talk in the past of Apple choosing AMD over Intel. Whilst ARM processors have traditionally ran circles around Intel’s designs in power consumption, dominating the small mobile device market, it’s hard to see Apple jumping ship when its just refreshed other parts of its hardware portfolio with the latest Sandy Bridge processors. Certainly, AMD’s new Fusion processors are looking pretty good themselves, with strong integrated graphics than current Sandy Bridge offerings, equivalent power consumption, and a lower price tag. Could be a close call. DailyTech even mentions the possibility of an ARM-powered Mac notebook. Another possibility is that we could see a black anodized aluminum case version.

Whichever choice Apple makes (and for now I am going with Intel’s ULV chipset), the future of the Mac notebook market certainly looks brighter than ever.

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Mac Pro 16-cores rumoured to be immnent


Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Rumours are that the next refresh for the Mac Pro will include 16-core models. 9to5 site claims that official Apple papers reveal that there will be 4 models, ranging from a single 6-core CPU model to one with dual 8-core CPUs. As none of the current Xeon 5000-series processor family used by Apple can go to eight cores this would indicate a yet to be revealed Intel processor is in the works.

It will a year next month since the last refresh of the Mac Pro range and the rumoured updates will mean that the Mac Pro will be a powerful platform for professionals using it for video and graphics applications.

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Upgrade your new iMac!


The Power Macintosh 6100/60, the first Macinto...

Image via Wikipedia

Seems from iFixit’s latest dismantling of the new range of iMacs released just yesterday that both the CPU and GPU are removable. This opens up the possibility of upgrading your iMac if either should fail in the future, or simply replacing either with faster version at a future date. This is great news for those of us who hate having to get a new Mac just to ‘keep up to speed’. Most Apple hardware last for years, certainly longer than most PC stuff (in my experience you are lucky to get 2-3 years out of a PC whilst I have a PowerMac that still works 16 years after I bought it!).

How soon we will see actual upgrades being available is anyone’s guess but expect some to appear in the next year or so from the likes of  Newer Technology. Let’s hope Apple continue this practice with future Macs, especially portables. how cool to be able to upgrade not only the RAM and HD in your Mac but the CPU and GPU as well!

The Future is Here! Macbook and iPad have a baby!


Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Steve Jobs has announced ‘the future of notebooks’ in his keynote today at Apple’s Special Event.

He refers it to as something that brings together a Macbook and an iPad. He talks about the new unibody construction of the Macbook Air. They decided to do this so that they could have a thin notebook but still have a rigid body.

It has a full-size keyboard and trackpad, with no optical drive or hard drive. Solid State Storage is 2 x faster than hard drives, more reliable and 90% smaller, quieter and lighter – all great features for a notebook. Apple is the world’s largest user of flash memory. The flash memory is ‘bare’ and not in a SSD case. They are placed directly on the logic board to create more space for the batteries. You can have up to 256GB storage in the top-end model.

With 7 hours battery time for wireless web time (5 hours on the smaller model) and 30 days standby is another feature Steve promotes in his presentation.The battery is a large part of the interior hardware.

It also comes with a Facetime camera, just like the iPhone. There are two versions, a 13.3 inch and 11.6 inch (2.9 pounds and 2.3 pounds)

However, the disappointment for many will be that its CPU is still Core 2 Duo. The display is a back-lit LED with 1440 x 900 resolution. Graphics is driven by NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU.

Prices:

  • 11.6 inch, 1.4GHz, 64GB for $999
  • 11.6 inch, 1.4GHz, 128GB for $1199
  • 13.3 inch,1.86GHz, 128GB for $1299

UK prices unkown but expect almost parity (i.e. £999, £1199 and £1299).

They are also much greener, being mercury free, PVC free, arsenic free and highly recyclable.

Steve expresses great pride in the new models (doesn’t he always) and the new models are available to order right now…. once the Apple Store is back online.

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Apple to announce new Mac Pro desktop with Core i7- 980X Extreme Edition?


Rumours are everywhere right now in blogsphere that Apple will be updating its Mac Pro desktop range to feature the Core i7- 980X Extreme Edition from Intel.

The Core i7- 980X Extreme Edition runs at 3.33GHz, whilst supporting 12 simultaneous threads (two per core) and has a massive 12MB of cache. The current Extreme Edition processor, the Core i7-975, runs at the same clock speed, but it has only four cores (eight threads) and a smaller 8MB of Level 3 cache.

This means the new Mac Pro will have a stonking specification and should feature record-breaking performance for Apple’s top of the range computers. Price-wise its likely that Apple will have negotiated some deal with Intel to bring the price of the CPU down from the reported $970 – $999 range. How this will translate into actual retail prices will of course depend very much on the actual specification of the other components. PC (Windows boxes) are retailing in the $5,500 plus range, so don’t expect the top of the range model to be cheap! The current 8-core model starts at $3,299.00, so expect the 12-core to start somewhere in the region of $3,500 – $3,750. However, in view of the current economic climate it may be that Apple will wish to reduce these prices. In the past they have sometimes upped the spec but kept the price the same or close to the existing range.

Certainly, Apple doesn’t seem to have lost interest in its Mac range, despite all the interest in the iPad and the iPhone. Rumours have it too that we can expect a new iPhone (4G?) this summer, so they are obviously keeping their engineers and fabrication partners busy!

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The Mighty Mini



Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server.

Now there’s a special version of Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server preinstalled. It’s easy to set up and easy to run. Learn more


Apple has not let the mini wither and die on the vine, as some had anticipated so many times. Instead, it has just made it into a bigger and better product without radically changing the look and design.

It has bumped up the memory, given it a faster CPU and introduced a server version to boot!

Memory has been doubled to (up to 4GB), processor is now up to 2.66GHz and  Snow Leopard Server edition is now available for £799. For your money you get two 500GB hard drives (instead of one and a SuperDrive). Even better is that the Server Edition comes with an unlimited client version, making it excellent value. This means no additional fees, no matter how many clients you serve on your network.

At the same time, Apple hasn’t forgotten the need to be green and the new mini uses only 14 watts when its idle, better than any other desktop on the market. At a mere 6.5 inches square and 2 inches tall it remains as petite as ever, taking up less desktop space than any other pc.

When you consider that it also uses DDR3 memory (many pcs use DDR2 still) and that it comes with NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics, its quite a little powerhouse. It includes 5 USB 2.0 and 1 Firewire 800 ports and even lets you connect two monitors (including a TV) via its mini-DVI and Mini Displayport connectors.

All-in-all Apple have certainly not left the mini to wither slowly and eventually die but have given it a new lease of life. If anyone thought that Apple was neglecting the Mac in favour of the iPhone then they need to think again. Together with the new iMacs, the re-vamped MacBook and the new Magic Mouse they have shown they are as committed as ever to the range.

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