According to Cnet’s Brian Tong, sources have confirmed that updated models of the Mac mini and Mac Pro will come out in August. With a series of tweets on his profile Tong says the “all new” Mac minis and Mac Pros with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt technology will be released towards the end of July or first week of August. A report from two weeks ago claimed that Apple was looking to refresh the Mac mini and Mac Pro server line-up in July, though Tong seems to believe both the consumer and server lines will receive the much anticipated CPU and Thunderbolt upgrade to follow changes in the MacBook Pros and iMacs.
Tong correctly pinpointed the changes in the 2011 iMac refresh months ago and was the first one to claim back in February that the MacBook Air family was on track for a June update. Several rumors from different publications in the past months have indicated Apple was working on new MacBook Airs with faster processors and Thunderbolt, and the most recent theories suggest the update will come out either in late June or July.
Another report from last week also claimed Apple won’t release new Macs until OS X Lion comes out, and considering Lion’s scheduled July release, it would make sense for Apple to put new Airs for sale (the MacBook Air is now Apple’s most popular notebook) with the new OS preinstalled. In other tweets, Tong also confirms Lion will come pre-installed on new Macs this summer.
CPU World reports (via MacRumors) that Intel is working on a series of new Core i5 and Core i7 ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture which, offering improved speed and graphics performances over the previous-gen Arrandale CPUs, might be a suitable choice for Apple in the next generation of MacBook Air models. The three new processors, Core i5-2557M, Core i7-2637M and Core i7-2677M, increase clock speed from 1.4 GHz and 1.6 GHz to 1.7 GHz and 1.8 GHz, with turbo boost frequencies set at 2.8 GHz and 2.9 GHz. With increased speeds, performances and the same 17 Watt thermal envelope, the new CPUs might as well end up being used by Apple in the MacBook Airs rumored to receive a Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt update in June or July.
Two forthcoming Core i7 ULV dual-core processors, i7-2637M and i7-2677M, have 1.7 and 1.8 GHz base, and 2.8 GHz and 2.9 GHz Turbo Boost frequencies. This is 200 MHz higher than the frequencies of their predecessors, Core i7-2617M and i7-2657M. Default clock rate of the HD 3000 graphics on new chips stays the same, 350 MHz, although the maximum turbo frequency is increased to 1.2 GHz. The microprocessors boast 4 MB level 3 cache, and support HyperThreading and Vpro technologies. It is interesting to note that, despite of having lower processor number, the Intel i7-2637M SKU will be faster than the i7-2657M.
Low power consumption and speed are obviously factors Apple considers when selecting the processor to implement in thin and lightweight machines like the MacBook Airs. Whilst no release date has been announced by Intel yet, Apple usually gets components from Intel earlier than other companies, leading to speculation that the upcoming Air refresh may include the update Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. Several reports in the past months indicated was working on a new version of the MBA line, last updated in October 2010, featuring Thunderbolt connectivity and faster processors following recent hardware changes to the MacBook Pros and iMacs.
A new report from Digitimes seems to corroborate rumors we’ve heard in the past weeks about a MacBook Air refresh this summer, featuring Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt technology:
The Taiwan-based supply chain for Apple products will begin shipments of new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models featuring Sandy Bridge platform and Thunderbolt interface in late May for launch in June or July, according to makers in the supply chain. While Apple’s PR representatives in Taiwan have neither confirmed nor responded to the report, it has long been understood that Apple always keeps silent about its new products not yet launched, the sources emphasized.
Earlier reports about the new MacBook Airs (last updated in October at the Back to the Mac event) suggested production would start later this month for a June release. Cnet was first to report in February the MacBook Airs would receive an upgrade; there’s a lot of anticipation when it comes to the MacBook Airs thanks to their super-thin design, native SSD and screen resolution, with analysts claiming the line could become a $2.2 billion annual business for Apple.