Why an Apple MacBook Air with Retina display might already be outdated

“It has been widely rumored that Apple’s next-generation MacBook Air laptop will feature Intel’s next-generation Broadwell family of processors — something DigiTimes reported this morning,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “However, those who have followed Intel’s public statements know that Intel is planning for Broadwell’s follow-on, known as Skylake, to be ramping significantly during the second half of 2015.”

Essa wonders, “Given that Skylake is likely to bring substantial performance and power benefits over the Broadwell family of processors, what could this mean for Apple’s MacBook Air products?”

“Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that Apple will, as DigiTimes suggests, go into production and launch Broadwell-based MacBook Air systems during early 2015 and then do a refresh for the back-to-school shopping season,” Eassa writes. “Apple could reuse the same chassis it plans to introduce with the Broadwell models, but swap in a newly designed logic board to support the Skylake platform.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. Not to mention that when Intel begins releasing chips like Broadwell, they start with the ones that Intel hopes will allow them to compete with ARM-designed tablets, not with the i5 or i7 updates that the Macs need.

      1. Apple has consistently hit their A-Series chip targets, obviously. Too bad Intel lamely limps to the finish line with their target. Broadwell’s LATE release is what got the technology industry wondering if Moore’s Law was dead. Congratulations Intel.

        1. And having to dance to Intel’s tune like this is why I believe Apple will be making its own CPU (and maybe graphic) chips before too long. An ARM chip on steroids isn’t a bad bet. The other distinct advantage to making (or at least designing) their own chips is that it would then be harder for others to copy their hardware and software features using some other chip. I believe this will happen. SJ left IBM’s chips and switched to Intel precisely because they held up Apple’s development schedule. The trade offs were that Macs could run Windows (positive), and that all the PC makers were free to copy Apple features (negative). I think Intel CPUs were always viewed as a stop gap measure until Apple could find a better alternative. Soon after the switch Apple started acquiring chip design companies and people. I think they are about ready to dump Intel off-the-shelf chips.

          What are the alternatives, considering that we’re now down to 14 nm chips and not every Joe Blow can make them? Well, there’s a little known item here in Intel fab land (Portland, OR) that Intel has made major investments in expansion of its local facilities. Two years ago they made this announcement:

          “Intel said this morning that it plans a massive expansion of D1X, the new, $3 billion research factory now under construction at its Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro.

          Intel plans 2.5 million square feet of new buildings altogether, anchored by a 1.1. million-square foot research factory called D1X Mod 2.

          Additionally, Intel will add an office building, a manufacturing support building, and another parking garage.
          It will be a mammoth undertaking, and the cost of the second module will almost surely match or exceed the original, $3 billion project cost — though Intel declined this morning to talk specifics or say how many jobs it expects to add at the site.”

          Why would they do this in view of the declining sales of PCs? Speculation is that they plan to make custom chips of other companies. Which companies are likely to utilize that fab service? There’s only one that tI know of.

          1. Could Apple buy AMD? Then they’d have their CISC chip and eat it too.

            I any case, maybe this massive rumor mongering is a good kick in Intel’s butt. From what you’re reporting above, I’d say Intel is responding to their VERY slipped release schedule.

  1. Already outdated? What software changed in a few months that requires much faster processors? Right now I’m using a 2006 MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz to type this comment. The MacBook Pro is old, but definitely not outdated. It’s obviously not outdated as I use it daily since I bought it way back when. I think these article writers use improper words to describe things.

    Nonsense sensationalism. I’m sure Apple will make do with whatever components are available to them at the time, the same as any other company. I would think Apple would know precisely what Intel’s chip production schedules are and this wouldn’t be of any surprise to them and they’ve probably made a decision some time ago. Intel usually has some timeline showing approximate chip releases for anyone to see. There’s no point in them even trying to hide it. This article is a useless waste of space. Consumers sure don’t give a damn about processors and I’m not sure who would except the parties buying and selling.

    1. Or Apple could simply put an A9 or A10 chip in its Macbook Airs. Apple has never been content to rely on the features and scheduling determined by Intel or (back in the day) IBM. Apple is not happy being limited to providing the computing experience allowed by Intel’s chip designs. I expect they will be making their own CPU chips for all of their products rather sooner than later.

      Outdated? This laptop I’m working on right now is a late 2008 aluminum 2.4 Ghz Macbook running Yosemite with 8 GB RAM. There’s no reason to upgrade to something else at this point. We have two of these. We also have two 2005 Mac Pros running Leopard serving as file servers and DVRs in the corner of our office, along with several iPads, iPhones, etc. If we upgrade the Mac Pros it will be with Mac minis.

      1. I don’t think “outdated” is the right term to describe the upcoming Retina MBA. I would say “yesterday’s news” will probably be a better description when it appears.

        I agreed with the previous “outdated” comments though. My 2010 Macbook Pro i7 is maxed out at 8GB, fitted with a 500GB SSD, and still does the job well for 90%+ of what I do. The other 10% it does a little slower than I’d like, but is nonetheless capable.

        So do I need a new MBP? No… but I do I want one? Absolutely. Let’s face it, which Mac owners don’t want a Retina display nowadays or brand new shiny Apple stuff to play with?

        When the time comes to buy though, I will be justifying the cost to my wife by citing such things as weight saving, battery life, an inability to run multiple applications concurrently with the current MBP, i.e. the fiction that most people convince themselves to be true when talking about upgrading.

  2. And supposedly all that to please and whore to the Wintel OEMs and their schedules so they can release their crappy Ultrabooks. Broad wells had been promised around mid/end of this year and then procrastinated.

  3. And supposedly all that to please and be submissive towards the Wintel OEMs and their schedules so they can release their crappy Ultrabooks. Broadwells had been promised around mid/end of this year and then procrastinated.

  4. These articles are written for the know-nothing-about-Macs folks. Believe it or not, there are people (many people!) that have lived their lives completely void of any Mac exposure and then are just coming into the Mac fold. There are teenagers whose spark for the Mac has just been lit recently. While this type of news article may come across as hit-whoring to us veterans, it still satisfies the curiosity of someone out there.

  5. MagSeven48,

    I agree with your comments completely. I use a 2009 MacBook Pro as my daily machine for work. I bought it in March 2009. I also am still using the last of the PowerPC machines, a G5 quad tower, that I bought in November 2005. Yes, I am hampered a bit not being able to upgrade past Leopard on that machine. I run Snow Leopard on everything else and, so far, I’m still very satisfied with the lack of hassles using 10.5 and 10.6. Additionally, my business is run using Macs. Right now, I hate to upgrade until I absolutely have to because of fear of incompatibilities, etc.

  6. I think the reason for having a better processor is not for mere performance (per se) it is support a better screen: Retina, and with IPS technology.

    That is a higher resolution than the current screen, which requieres a better processor to move those extra pixels around.

    As for no reason to upgrade an older machine, well by some accounts the Mavericks UI works better with a Retina screen. So that would be a reason for some people. Me included.

  7. Like the only part that matters in a computer is the processor. A lot of other parts meeting more than just how fast it goes. Great screen, even if not retina, that can be seen on a wide angle. A trackpad that does more than Windows trackpad and touchscreen combined. Solid-state drives that are blazingly fast. The ability to daisychain external devices. This matters a lot more than a little bump and processor speed.

  8. Hmmmm… An expandable mac mini with a Skylake chip. That would make me upgrade the 2012 model I just bought. Got the one with the i7, cause there’s NO WAY I’d buy what Apple came out with for 2014.

  9. I would hope that the next incarnation of MacBook Airs have further segregation of price in comparison to the MacBook Pros. A 13.3″ rMBP is just under 3.5lbs and a 13.3″ MacBook Air is under 3lbs. The price difference compared to feature differences makes me think that the MacBook Air just isn’t worth it.

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