RUMOR: Apple testing A5-powered MacBook Air

Arnold Kim reports for MacRumors, “Macotakara claims that Apple is presently testing an A5 powered MacBook Air.”

And additionally, an anonymous source told more information, Apple already made test equipment of Thunderbolt MacBook Air driven by A5 processor. According to this source who saw live A5 MacBook Air actually, this test machine performed better than expected. – Macotakara

Kim reports, “The A5 processor is an ARM-based processor that Apple uses in the iPad 2. Macotakara is uncertain what operating system this experimental machine was running.”

Read more in the full article here.

28 Comments

  1. Intel’s offer of ‘collaboration’ just a coincidence I think not. Clearly Apple are doing these tests which is why all those rumours broke. What the tests mean isn’t clear however but suggests that Apple would be interested in producing Airs or a derivative thereof, at some point in the future probably when the more capable ARM core designs come online in a few years. Intel clearly fears this potential ‘foot in the door’ of Mac computing especially if such a design would be using OSX in some form. Interesting days.

  2. Of course they are testing such à possibility. They would be crazy not to. Get rid of Intel and use à chip for which you can control the production process yourself? Sweet. But it is à long way from testing to bringing a product to market.

      1. Perhaps he’s using a non-US standard keyboard. There’s an inherent ability to change keyboard layout in iOS as well as hardware keyboard mapping in Macs.

  3. Smaller form factors.
    Much more efficient battery consumption.
    Healthier margins since they design the thing.

    The only drawbacks I can see is there’d be fragmentation of the operating system, and although that went pretty smoothly with the PowerPC to Intel transition, it did have some drawbacks if you weren’t paying close attention (I’m going to be running into it with a major printer driver that runs in Rosetta for me if I want to pet a certain Lion).

    It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t happen over the entire product line — just a category of “ultra portables.”

    1. You hit the nail on the head – this will require an emulation layer to run Intel software on ARM. Granted, Apple has done this before, both PPC to Intel, and in the mid 90s Motorola 68000 to PPC. So they have the experience. However, both of those were transition strategies. So will Apple be transitioning to ARM completely? (I think not.) So will developers have to compile a new “Universal” for both architectures? This trying ARM raises a lot of questions.

  4. Of course they’re testing it, they would be stupid to not at least consider this sort of a device.

    It won’t work as well as a more powerful machine and thus would have to be cheaper, the question would then be one of a cheaper mac cannibalising iPad/Mac sales. Apple may not want to get into a market of cheaper/lower powered machines than they currently sell.

    1. Just because they can make it for less doesn’t mean they’ll sell it for less. That is why Apple is winning the margin wars. Market share means little. If you lose money on each sale, you’ll never make it up in volume.

  5. Yes Intel should be concerned. But, Microsoft should be even more so. The only remaining reason to use an Intel chip is so you can virtually run Windows. Most consumers will never need to run Windows on their Apple products or devices. Microsoft files can be translated and decoded into an iOS friendly readable app. This could be the last nail in making Microsoft irrelevant!

    An all day charge with hundreds of very cheep fun apps or the ability to rub virtual Windows? Ballmer, can you not see the tsunami racing at the Microsoft beach head? Clueless!

  6. The more I think about it, the more I think they’re just leaking this info. to keep the pressure on Intel to keep its prices in check.

    I’m not saying it could never happen, but Apple might just be bluffing on this one. A scared partner is a fair partner.

  7. Fragmentation?
    It would be very easy to use the same components for the iPad and place it into another form factor, say a Macbook Air. Lower the iPad price, place the A5 in the MacBook Air and have a Netbook version of sorts with a Laptop appeal. Now place the price in the middle of the iPad and MacBook Air.
    The use by college students, business, and government would expand at the cost of PC sales while driving volume up on iPad / iPhone /iPod Touch parts. Lowering cost on the volume parts and expanding iOS into business and government even more. The part price will fall on volume, allowing similar profit.
    The same iOS and OS X would be the same. So the frag in the OS is not needed. Just two platforms targeted at mobile users with need for 20 plus hours of Laptop operation. Most basic software on the iPad will cover what most business’ need and they never have to turn off their laptops. They will have a constant connection to the Internet with WIFI or 3G from Verizon, ATT, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the US. Not to leave out any other country that the iPad covers.

    This is a Suitcase Nuke in the corporate PC sector and world PC sales. Intel knows it too.

  8. Unless you move the whole the whole Mac line to A5, then it would be fragmented. Not the interface, but things like drivers for peripherals/components are hugely important and can pose headaches for your partners.

  9. I’m sure they are testing prototypes. But the eventual retail product will not arrive until the next major release of the Mac OS… AFTER Lion. That will be an overhaul that is as significant as going from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X.

    By then, it will be an “A7” with a quad-core processor.

  10. The way things are going for Apple… Of Course!!! The real New World Order

    One world currency Yuan/Rouble

    One world religion Darwinism

    One world government United Nations

    One world OS

    1. The way things are going for Apple… Of Course!!! The real New World Order

      One world currency – Yuan/Rouble

      One world religion – Darwinism

      One world government – United Nations

      One world OS – iOS 6.6.6

      Left off the punch line

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