MacBook Pro Rumor Roundup: Thinner, Lighter, Faster with Best Display in The Industry

Submitted by lalit on May 18, 2012 - 12:18pm.

In the past few days many rumors about upcoming MacBook Pro have been posted by various website and our sources say that most of these rumors will come true. The MacBook Pro rumor mill started on Monday with a post by Mark Gurman on 9to5mac, in which he reported that next generation Pro will have ultra thin design, Retina Display and USB 3.0. After Mark’s post, many other tech websites also reported similar rumors about upcoming MacBook Pro. Below is a list of MacBook Pro rumors that will most probably come true and some additional tidbits from our sources:

Completely New Design: In March, we reported that Apple would not use wedge shape design for next generation MacBook Pro, as PC makers are shamelessly copying MacBook Air’s wedge design. And now 9to5mac also concurs with our old report. Gurman wrote on 9to5mac “The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is described as being an ultra-thin version of the current MacBook Pro. Basically, the prototype design is a thinner, yet more robust, version of the late-2008 design.” Our sources say that Apple will keep MacBook Pro and MacBook Air as two separate categories of Mac laptops with different designs.

Ivy Bridge Processors: It is a given fact that Apple will use the new quad-core Ivy Bridge processors in the new MacBook Pros. We have heard from a source that we should be ready for a surprise, as Apple is planning to use a quad core processor in higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro model. With removal of optical drive Apple will have more space to design a better cooling system, which would allow them to use a quad core processor like new Core i7-3612QM that has 35W TDP.

NVIDIA 600M Series Graphics: Many reputable sources like Nilay Patel of The Verge and Joanna Stern of ABC News have already reported that MacBook Pro will use the new 28nm GeForce GT 650M graphics chip in place of AMD Radeon chip on current MacBook Pro model. However, our sources say that Apple isn’t just looking at one NVIDIA chip. They are planning to use at least two of the following graphics chips - GeForce GT 640M, GeForce GT 650M and GeForce GTX 660M. All the three graphics chips support display resolution up to 3840 x 2160, which will be required for the new Retina Display.

Solid State Drive: The latest rumor is that some of the MacBook Pro prototypes are using Samsung’s superfast 256GB 830 series SSD and the assumption is that Apple will use these SSDs across the line in various storage sizes. However, we have heard that new MacBook Pro will be going the iMac’s route, offering a combo drive that uses both NAND Flash storage and a traditional hard drive, as Apple knows that every Pro user needs more than 256GB storage. Apple might combine a MacBook Air like onboard Flash storage with a hard drive or can use a regular SSD with a hard drive. From what we have heard the best part of this setup will be that users won’t have to worry about where to store what files, the OS will take care of the process with users seeing just one drive.

USB 3.0: The new MacBook Pro will be the first Mac featuring USB 3.0. Genesys will supply USB 3.0 controller chip and also USB 3.0 card reader chip for the new Pro. The USB 3.0 is 4 times slower than Thunderbolt, but it’s slowly replacing the USB 2.0 and will be a great addition to the MacBook Pro that already offers superfast Thunderbolt port.

Retina Display: The headline feature of the new MacBook Pro will be Retina Display. Rumors are the 15-inch model will get a 2880 x 1800 resolution display and the 13-inch model will get a 2560 x 1600 resolution display. Many people are questioning the amount of visual improvement an ultra high-resolution display will bring on a laptop, because of the average viewing distance of more than 22-inches (1.5 to 2 feet). But if you have seen a 4K TV in action alongside a 1080p TV, you will know the difference. The image looks way sharper, colors look better and the video looks more real. You normally watch TV from 10-feet away and human eye can see more details the nearer it’s to the display. So, simply put, you will see the difference and it will be jaw dropping.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook – The Lightest 14-inch Laptop

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 10:48pm.

Lenovo today updated their complete ThinkPad Laptop lineup including X, T and L series with new Ivy Bridge processors, but the most interesting Laptop in the announcement was ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook. The X1 is the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook available, but as Lenovo points out it’s not light on performance, and features 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor along with Solid State Drive (SSD) for almost instant responsiveness. Lenovo describes the laptop as:

Created for those who demand the highest levels of performance, mobility, entertainment and design, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon exceeds Ultrabook specifications by using a premium carbon fiber rollcage to create a durable Ultrabook weighing less than three pounds. Other premium features include 3G connectivity for anywhere anytime access, Lenovo RapidCharge for a near-full battery charge in 30 minutes, and Intel vPro technology for manageability.

“We crafted the ThinkPad X1 Carbon with premium carbon fiber material in order to make it incredibly thin and light, yet durable,” said Lu Yan, senior vice president, Think Product Group, Lenovo. “Our new ThinkPad laptop portfolio embodies much of the innovative thinking exemplified in the X1 Carbon, such as a backlit keyboard, super-bright high definition display, Dolby Home Theatre and rich communications features that balance business performance with personal use.”

Lenovo will start shipping the ThinkPad X1 carbon Ultrabook this summer. No word on price yet, but from the design and specifications we would say that it will be a premium product. You can get more information about the laptop on Lenovo’s website.

 

 

Sony Updates The VAIO E, VAIO S and VAIO Z Series Laptops

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 7:12pm.

Sony today announced updates for VAIO E, VAIO S and VAIO Z series laptops. The E Series will get two new laptops with larger 15.5-inch and 17.3-inch screens. Both the laptops will have last generation Intel Core i5-2450M processor, AMD Radeon 7650M graphics, up to 750GB hard drive, built in webcam, USB 3.0, HDMI, Bluetooth and WiFi. The main difference between the two laptops is the screen, the 15.5-inch model has 1366 x 768 resolution screen and the 17.3-inch model has 1600 x 900 resolution screen (there is option of selecting Full HD screen also).

The new VAIO S Series now comes in 13.3-inch and 15.5-inch screen sizes, and is made out of materials like magnesium, aluminum and carbon fiber. The laptops feature new 3rd generation Intel Core i5 and i7m processors, NVIDIA GeForce GT640M LE graphics, anti-reflective VAIO Display Plus, slot-in optical drive (Blu-ray optional), up to 1TB hard drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB 3.0 and optional 4G LTE/3G WWAN. Both the 13.3-inch and 15.5-inch models weigh less than 4.5 pounds and offer up to 14 hours battery life with optional sheet battery.

The Ultrathin and powerful VAIO Z Series also get Ivy bridge treatment with new Core i7 processor. The 0.7-inch thick laptop features 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 7670M graphics, optional Power Media Dock with Optical drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/LTE support and USB 3.0. VAIO Z’s tough “hexashell” design is crafted with superlight carbon fiber and aluminum resulting in less than 2.6 pounds weight. And like the slightly heavier S Series the VAIO Z can also offer 14 hours battery life with optional sheet battery.

New VAIO E Series 15 and 17 is available in a choice of white, black or (E Series 15 only) silver color finishes for a starting price of $459, but if you go for slightly decent configuration the price will jump over $700. No word on when the new VAIO S and VAIO Z Series will ship or pricing.

 

AMD Introduces Second Generation A-Series APUs for Laptops (Review added)

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 3:06pm.

AMD today announced its 2nd generation AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APU) for mainstream and ultrathin notebooks. The new APUs, codenamed “Trinity” have an improved design over previous generation and offer following new features:

  • Double the performance per watt of the previous generation;
  • The AMD HD Media Accelerator with a unique set of technologies designed to optimize video quality available with premium and Internet video content, and accelerate video file conversion;
  • An increase in CPU performance of up to 29 percent with higher processor speeds thanks to the next-generation AMD “Piledriver” CPU core with 3rd-Generation AMD Turbo Core technology, where power is dynamically shifted between the CPU and GPU depending on application needs, effectively providing a more responsive experience that can boost CPU frequencies to up to 3.2 GHz;
  • AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics for an increase of graphics performance up to 56% over the previous generation. Combined, the CPU and GPU cores deliver more than 700 gigaflops of computing performance – several times more than the fastest x86 CPUs – to boost performance of hundreds of applications;
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life through CPU and GPU power enhancements, with clear battery life leadership in notebook form factors.

AMD has launched the new A-Series with three APUs for mainstream laptops and two APUs for ultrathin laptops. On the mainstream side, following APUs are available:

  • A10-4600M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.3GHz and HD 7660G Radeon graphics with 384 cores running at 497MHz. The APU has 4MB L2 cache, 35W TDP and support for DDR3 1600/1333 memory.
  • A8-4500M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 1.9GHz and HD 7640G Radeon graphics with 256 cores running at 497MHz. The APU also has 4MB L2 cache, 35W TDP and support for DDR3 1600/1333 memory.
  • A6-4400M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.7GHz and HD 7520G Radeon Graphics with 192 cores running at 497MHz. Even though this APU has higher clock speed it has lower GPU horsepower and just 1MB L2 cache. Other specifications are same as other two APUs.

On the Ultrathin side, AMD has the following two APUs:

  • A10-4655M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.0GHz and HD 7620G Radeon graphics with 384 cores running at 360MHz. The APU has 25W TDP, 4MB L2 cache and supports DDR3 1333/1066 memory.
  • A6-4455M: Featuring dual core CPU running at 2.1GHZ and HD 7500G Radeon graphics with 256 cores running at 327MHz. The APU has 17W TDP, 2MB L2 cache and support DDR3 133/1066 memory.

Laptop based on new A-Series APUs from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are available beginning today with starting price as low as $649.

AnandTech, HotHardware, Hexus and PC Perspetive have posted reviews of the new A-Series APUs. And the reviews are very positive specially when is comes to integrated GPU performance. However, AMD still lags behind Intel when it comes to CPU performance. In fact, some reviewers have written that AMD’s new A-Series is still behind Intel’s last generation Sandy Bridge processors. Jarred Walton wrote on AnandTech:

Intel continues to offer better CPU performance, and if you need graphics—which mostly means you want to play games—they have a good partner with NVIDIA. AMD on the other hand is delivering better integrated graphics performance with less CPU power, and depending on what you want to do that might be a more well rounded approach to mobile computing.

Overall, AMD’s new A-Series Trinity APUs are a step in right direction and depending on your requirements can be a good option. Especially, if the prices of upcoming laptops based new APUs are right (rumors are prices will start as low as $649).

 

 

Apple to Use Thin-Film Touch Technology in 7.85-inch iPad, and Has Booked Half of Mobile DRAM Capacity at Elpida

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 6:09am.

DigiTimes today published two Apple related rumors, both hinting at upcoming iOS devices. In the first rumors DigiTimes claimed that they have heard from reliable industry sources that Apple will use “G/F2” thin-film capacitive touch technology in upcoming 7.85-inch iPad. Siu Han posted:

The smaller version of Apple's new iPad, rumored to be called iPad Mini, is said to feature the G/F2 technology, with Nitto supplying the key thin-film materials, and Nissha Printing and TPK producing the touch screens, the sources said. Wintek, another touch module supplier for Apple, does not have thin-film touch capacity, the sources added.

Using the G/F2 design will help reduce costs and will also make the iPad Mini thinner than previous iPad models since it will have one less layer of film than the G/F/F (glass/film/film) structure, according to sources. The G/F2 structure places the electrode on the top and bottom ends of the ITO film, which will then be laminated onto the cover glass.

The second rumor talked about Apple booking about 50% capacity at Elpida’s 12-inch fab in Hiroshima, Japan for production of mobile DRAM. Josephine Lien posted on DigiTimes:

Apple has recently placed huge orders for mobile DRAM memory with Elpida Memory's 12-inch plant in Hiroshima (Japan), securing about 50% of the total chips produced at the facility, according to industry sources.

Apple reportedly will source mobile DRAM chips from Elpida for its upcoming iPad and iPhone series, despite the fact that the Japan chipmaker filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and has been in talks to sell its business, the sources observed.

This would indicate that not only Apple is expecting a big jump in DRAM memory use, but they are also expecting it soon. Rumors are that Apple will launch the next generation iPhone and 7.85-inch iPad before the end of Q3 2012. And they expect both these products to be big sellers.

 

Intel Begins Research on 7nm and 5nm Process Technologies for Microprocessors

Submitted by lalit on May 14, 2012 - 8:01pm.

Just few weeks back Intel started shipping Ivy Bridge processors based on 22nm process technology and Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini is already talking about 7nm and 5nm process technologies that are at least 3-5 generations away. In a presentation Otellini revealed that Intel has begun research on 7nm and 5nm manufacturing technology for processor. He said, “Our research and development is quite deep, I talk about ten years”.

Intel is looking into process lithography, materials for manufacturing and Interconnect technologies for 7nm and 5nm processors, as at such small size most of the current technologies won’t work without modifications or completely new materials.

Intel has already equipped D1X Oregon Fab, Fab 42 Arizona and Fab 24 Ireland for 14nm fabrication processes, which Intel will start in 2013. The company will follow 14nm processors with 10nm process technology in 2015. If Intel follows this time frame we should see 7nm processors in 2017-18 and 5nm processors in 2019-20. [Via Xbit Laboratories]

 

Leaked Benchmarks and Best Buy Price Drops Hint at Upcoming Mac Updates

Submitted by lalit on May 14, 2012 - 5:32am.

Just few weeks before a new Mac is launched two things happen – one, benchmarking results are posted on Geekbench and two, Apple’s retailing partners drop prices of current models. And in past 24 hours these two things have happened for multiple Mac models including the much rumored upcoming MacBook Pro and Ivy Bride iMac.

Lets start with Geekbench results, MacRumors has posted benchmark results that appeared in Geekbench’s database in past few days. The first result shows a new MacBook Pro with model number MacBookPro9,1 (current model numbers are MacBookPro8,1, 8,2 and 8,3). According to Geekbench result table, the new laptop has quad core 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM processor, 8GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). However, the best thing is that the CPU and memory performance of the new laptop is about 15% faster than current MacBook Pro model, scoring 12,252 compared to 10,500 scored by current top of the line Pro.

The second Geekbench result shows a new iMac model with model number iMac13,2 (current iMac has model number iMac12,x). It also features the new Ivy Bridge processor from Intel and Mac OS X 10.8. However, the Geekbench results of this new iMac only show moderate improvement over previous iMac model. The new iMac scored 12,183 compared to 11,500 scored by old model. Looking at the result table we believe that 4GB memory on the iMac is responsible for lower performance. Our guess is that this test iMac is only running on a single 4GB memory DIMM and hence memory system on the iMac is working as single channel rather than as dual channel decreasing the performance.

These two benchmarking results hint that Apple is almost ready to ship the new MacBook Pro and iMac. Normally we see an update within 4 weeks of such leak. Also adding weight to the Mac update rumors are the recent price drops on various Mac systems at Best Buy. The retailer has dropped prices of Mac mini by up to $50, MacBook Air prices by up to $100, MacBook Pro prices by up to $150, iMac prices by up to $125 and Mac Pro prices by up to $300.

This would indicate that not just MacBook Pro and iMac, but the complete Mac lineup is about to get an update in next few months. We believe MacBook Pro and iMac will be first in the line followed by other Macs.

 

Intel Based Windows 8 Tablets Coming in November

Submitted by lalit on May 13, 2012 - 9:00pm.

CNET is reporting that Windows 8 tablets based on Intel processors will be coming to the market in November. It has been rumored that ARM based Windows 8 tablets will ship when Microsoft launches Windows 8 in early Q4 2012 (mostly end of September or early October), which would indicate that Intel based tablets will be few weeks behind ARM tablets featuring the new shiny Windows 8. Brooke Crothers wrote:

The first wave of Intel-based Windows 8 tablets are expected to land in retail stores in November, a source familiar with device makers' plans told CNET.

"The schedule is tight," said the source. "Looking at what Windows is trying to achieve not only with a new OS, but a new OS that needs to run four to five architectures -- three ARM, Intel, and AMD," according to the source.

And don't expect just tablets. "More than 50 percent" of the "more than a dozen" designs will be hybrids, aka convertibles, the source said. Those designs combine aspects of a traditional physical keyboard-based laptop and tablet.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft favors ARM over Intel for Windows 8 tablet launch. It will actually show where Microsoft is going for future of tablet.

 

Why Would Apple Buy Loewe…

Submitted by lalit on May 13, 2012 - 5:56pm.

Yesterday, AppleInsider reported that Apple was negotiating to acquire German HDTV maker Loewe for 87.3 million Euros (about $122 million). However, today Loewe’s spokesperson said that there was “absolutely nothing to it”. But there are still rumors that Apple offered a deal to Loewe and their board of directors is yet to decide. Many believe that Apple is interested in Loewe because of their minimalist designs and premium market appeal.

However, we don’t think Apple will buy anyone for design or market appeal. As far as design is concerned, Apple has always depended on their internal design team led by Jonathan Ive. And as for market appeal, there is no bigger brand than Apple today in the world. So, why would they need Loewe?

We believe that if Apple buys Loewe, it will be for intellectual property (IP) and nothing else. Yes, they might use the engineers from Loewe for making Apple’s upcoming HDTV, but that isn’t the main reason for Apple to buy Loewe.

Apple will be entering a very crowded TV market with many big name electronic companies wanting to keep them out, as Apple is known to drain away all the profits from the market they enter. For example, in 2011 Apple took away 80% profit of MP3 player market, over 75% profit of smartphone market and over 80% profit of tablet market. And companies like Samsung, Sony and LG will do anything to keep Apple away from already drying TV market. So, if Apple has some IP backing from an old company like Loewe it will be that much better/easier for them to enter the TV market.

 

E-Onkyo Brings First True High Definition Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Online Music Service

Submitted by lalit on May 12, 2012 - 9:44am.

Japanese online music store, e-onkyo has announced launch of their online music distribution service that will feature Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound tracks. The service will be launched on May 30, 2012, in Japan and in fall 2012 elsewhere in the world. The service will initially offer 100 album titles (about 1,000 tracks) in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel surround sound.

Along with lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel surround sound, the music service will also provide consumers with high-quality audio at reduced sizes for faster download. The reduced file size tracks will have 24bit/96kHz audio and they will be around 200MB for five minute track, while the lossless track will have 24bit/192kHz audio with about 800MB file size. Both file sizes will be 5.1-channel Dolby TrueHD.

Shinsuke Yamashita, President and Representative Director, Onkyo Entertainment Technology Corporation, explained: "We are very happy that e-onkyo music will start distribution with Dolby TrueHD lossless audio, thanks to the cooperation of Dolby. The evolution of network audio and PC audio means that users can enjoy high-resolution sound with data volumes greater than those that are possible on a CD. And we are aiming to achieve even further growth in our music distribution business. Through the collaboration between our two companies, we intend to increase our breadth of content and improve the user's listening experience, in a way that only high-quality surround sound distribution can."

The e-onkyo music service featuring Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks will start on May 30, 2012 at 1 PM in Japan. On e-onkyo Dolby TrueHD 5.1 music service albums will start at ¥3,000 (about $35) and single will cost ¥400 (about $5). [Via Engadget]