Rumors about coming MacBook releases are swirling around the Web. Key predictions include a new Intel Ivy Bridge Core quad-core processor, a very thin 15-inch MacBook Pro, super-fast USB 3.0 and Retina displays.
Some of the reports are based on the appearance on various sites of benchmarks that purport to be from a new MacBook Pro prototype. The benchmarks indicates that the machine is running a new, unreleased version of OS X Mountain Lion, using an Ivy Bridge processor.
50 Percent Faster
According to the alleged specs, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro will use the recently-released Intel Core i7-3820QM, running at 2.7 GHz. One reason for excitement about the possible incorporation of the new processor is that its integrated graphics processing is said to run about 50 percent faster than the Sandy Bridge processors currently in the MacBook Pro.
However, some observers have speculated that, while an Ivy Bridge processor may be planned for the next MacBook Pro, it may not be the 3820QM, but a more recent Intel chip designed specifically for the product.
There are also purported benchmarks for new all-in-one iMacs floating around, which point to a 27-inch iMac running an Ivy Bridge quad-core processor, the i7-3770, at 3.4GHz.
A new 15-inch MacBook Pro is reportedly being readied, based on information from supply-chain sources, and some observers expect it to resemble a souped-up MacBook Air, while others suggest a much thinner version of the current Pro. Another data point backing the idea that new Macs will soon be released is that retailers appear to be cutting prices to move existing inventory, such as discounts of up to $200 by Best Buy.
A key feature of one or more new Mac models, according to reports, will be a so-called Retina display, the next step in spectacular high-resolution technology launched on the iPhone 4 two years ago. The Retina display on the iPad unveiled earlier this year showed the technology in its larger self, and the display type is expected to emerge on Apple's computers sooner or later.
There are also expectations that new Macs will include USB 3.0 ports, offering transfers up to 5 Gbps. Intel's Ivy Bridge processors have built-in 3.0 support.
We asked Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, what his expectations were for Apple computer releases in the near future.
Pointing out that rumors always abound about what Apple plans, Gartenberg said the company was expected to upgrade to the latest available Intel processors, adding that "it also wouldn't be much of a shock if new Apple computers were significantly thinner" than previous models.
Similarly, Gartenberg said that Apple is rolling out Retina displays across its product lines, although he noted that the company "would probably give developers some notice" that such high-resolution was coming to the Mac, in order to give them time to accommodate it. For instance, user interface elements shown on screens with the highest resolution, unless corrected, look smaller than normal.