Where Are the i5/i7 MacBook Pros?

| Editorial

We've all be eagerly awaiting Apple's launch of i5/i7-based MacBook Pros. These are Intel's quad core CPUs, and Hewlett Packard has been shipping notebooks with these CPUs for some time. Is Apple overloaded with iPad attentions? Are there product timing issues?

One school of thought says that resources have been diverted from the new MacBook Pros to Mr. Jobs' pet project, the iPad. I believe that because while Apple is rich in revenues and cash, it still runs very lean organizations. I'm betting that Bob Mansfield, SVP of Mac Hardware Engineering is busier than [fill in your favorite humorous line.]

Another possibility is that there are timing issues to work out. With so many people not sure if they need an iPad, but very sure they need a faster Mac notebook, why have tens of thousands of customers shelling out big bucks for a quad core MacBook Pro -- only to be flat broke on March 26th or so when the iPad ships?

If Apple can manage it, now would be a very good time to release those MacBook Pros with the new Intel CPUs. Get it behind them and stop taking so much heat from the PC crowd for being so tardy. As my friend, David Sobotta, says in the link above: "I have a very good memory, and as I remember it, one of the reasons that Apple moved to Intel processors was so that its customers would not have to wait for the latest and greatest processors."

The closer we get to the iPad release, the more dicey the release of these MacBooks could be because Apple doesn't want customers to anguish over a choice. Apple wants the impulse buy.

I'm hoping it's all just a temporary snafu. One rumor suggests that the new MacBook Pros are imminent.

If Apple weren't quite so lean and managers quite so overworked, this issue wouldn't have even come up. But when Mr. Jobs' personal project, the iPad, is imminent, it's all hands on deck. Customers will have to wait for it to all sort out. I just hope it's sooner than later.

What do you think?

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24 Comments Leave Your Own

daemon

I think Sandy Bridge will be released before Apple ships a single product with Nahalem.

Apple isn’t known for being on the bleeding edge of technology! They made the switch to Intel on the P6 microarchitecture (Core) and while Apple immediately switched to the Core microarchitecture (Core 2) it wasn’t because it was the best (it was) but because it was the cheapest!

I think the best you can expect out of Apple for the iMac and MacBook is i3.

craigf

This is a tempest in a teapot.

How many sales do you imagine this i5/i7 delay crisis will cost Apple? Zero?

Take a pill and call me Tuesday. Or possibly a week from Tuesday. Doubt it will be longer than that.

Lee Dronick

I am waiting for the new MacBooks and I will buy one within a few days of release. I want one, more than I need one which is why I won’t buy a current model. I am also going to buy an iPad, 3G, when they are released so for my situation the two are not a mutually exclusive purchase.

Gene King

I think your friend Mr. Sobotta has a point. I thought that Apple would have regular CPU upgrades twice yearly across the board. I wonder what the real hold up is…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Another possibility is that there are timing issues to work out. With so many people not sure if they need an iPad, but very sure they need a faster Mac notebook, why have tens of thousands of customers shelling out big bucks for a quad core MacBook Pro—only to be flat broke on March 26th or so when the iPad ships?

I guess that is the luxury you have when there are no direct competitors in your space. You could just imagine Dell deciding not to ship some desktop right away because HP is set to ship a netbook imminently. Or Lenovo deciding to concede desktop marketshare because they have a new ThinkPad they want to focus on. It’s funny how with competition, they all have to keep their products fresh!

Tiger

Aren’t they due out next week? Read that somewhere yesterday.

thassett

craigf, incorrect.  This is costing Apple sales.  The educated public is aware of the impending refresh (and age) of Apple’s laptops, and are holding off on making a purchase until new units are announced.  From a big picture standpoint, the loss may be minimal to Apple’s books.  From a micro standpoint (this snapshot in time this quarter) mobile unit sales will be down.

Mark Taylor

Hi John,

    As long as I’m wishing, my next Mac Pro and MacBook Pro will
have an i7, Blu-Ray drive, and LightScribe technology!

Mark

DaMoose

I too am waiting for the MacBook Pro upgrade. My guess is the delay is due to the requirement to include solid state hard drives instead of mechanical ones.Apple cannot continue to make a laptop that weighs over 7 bounds and truly call it portable. (try hauling it out and then back in at the airport).

Ah, but won’t the total cost be prohibitive? Since when does Apple worry about end price. Most Mac users do not use it just for routine email and internet stuff. Most of us need serious compute power for graphics, large worksheets for design, massive number crunching, and yes even high powered games including 3-D. So they are used to invest serious bucks to be able to business the “Mac Way”.

jcn_13

The next MacBook Pro upgrade will probably use Intel’s Arrandale mobile CPU which is a dual-core processor, not a quad-core as indicated at the beginning of this article. Intel’s new Core i3/i5/i7 Mobile chips are dual-core with Intel’s Hyper-Threading which allows two execution threads per core (or 4 threads total). However, that’s not the same as the true quad-core processors used in the new, high-end iMacs (which also offer two threads per core but with 4 cores and thus 8 threads total).

Here is a link to Intel’s data sheets on the new Core i3/i5/i7 Mobile chips:

http://www.intel.com/products/processor/index.htm

Intel will be offering two, high-end versions of the i7 mobile that have 4 cores (i7-820QM and i7-720QM), but they have a TDP of 45W which will likely be too high for Apple’s thin and light notebooks.

jcn_13

My guess is the delay is due to the requirement to include solid state hard drives instead of mechanical ones. Apple cannot continue to make a laptop that weighs over 7 bounds and truly call it portable. (try hauling it out and then back in at the airport).

Apple doesn’t make any “over 7 pound” laptops. The 15” MacBook Pros start at 5.5 pounds and the 17” weighs 6.6 pounds (the latter still one of the lightest 17” notebooks on the market). To go lower you can get the 13” MacBook Pro at only 4.5 pounds.

Nemo

My speculation is that it is Apple’s marketing strategy to at least through February focus all attention on the iPad.  And then release the new MacBook Pros in March, when they will be a draw to get folks into the Apple Store, where, yes, they will have the iPad to play with.  In short, Apple is coordinating the simultaneous releases of two highly desired products that will reinforce each other.  That will be followed two months later by the release of the new iPhones.

Nemo

And dear Bosco, it is not the lack of competition that allows Apple to coordinate the release of its products but the fact that it is winning the competition by producing products that are superior, rather than the commodity products that the PC world produces.  If you’re HP, Dell, Toshiba, et. al., you have to immediately respond because your are all selling the same stuff.  If you are Apple, you can take the time to design something special and coordinate the release of your products, because you have something that is worth waiting for, innovation that you created with your sweat and your money and which the property laws of the United States, therefore, protect as your property.

jcn_13

I think Sandy Bridge will be released before Apple ships a single product with Nahalem.

Sandy Bridge may not appear for another year, so I think it’s unlikely that Apple will wait that long to update the MacBooks.

I think the best you can expect out of Apple for the iMac and MacBook is i3.

The high-end iMac is already running the Core i5/i7 (quad cores) so your statement is a little off.

John Martellaro

Intel?s new Core i3/i5/i7 Mobile chips are dual-core with Intel?s Hyper-Threading which allows two execution threads per core (or 4 threads total).

Reader jcn_13 is not quite correct.  The i5 has four cores. The i7 has four cores plus hyperthreading which provides 8 virtual cores.

Ref: http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html

No one knows for sure what intel chip will show up in the new MacBook Pros.

daemon

Sandy Bridge may not appear for another year, so I think it?s unlikely that Apple will wait that long to update the MacBooks.

Sandy Bridge is slated for a 2010 release. See Intel has this development strategy… Tick-Tock. On the Tick, they shrink the processing, so from 90 nm to 65 to 32 to 22…. and on the Tock they change the archietecture. There’s two years between each process shrink and two two years between each archietecture change. Nahalem was released in 2008, it’s two years later, that means we get Sandy Bridge in 2010. 2011 they go from 32 to 22 nm.

The high-end iMac is already running the Core i5/i7 (quad cores) so your statement is a little off.

Yeah, I feel so embarassed that I failed to take into account that the most expensive iMac in production that offers a chip that retails at $186, $46 more than the processor in the 27 inch imac that is $300 less than the most expensive iMac currently being sold. Maybe the ziff socket is solid gold….

jcn_13

Sandy Bridge is slated for a 2010 release. See Intel has this development strategy? Tick-Tock. On the Tick, they shrink the processing, so from 90 nm to 65 to 32 to 22?. and on the Tock they change the archietecture. There?s two years between each process shrink and two two years between each archietecture change. Nahalem was released in 2008, it?s two years later, that means we get Sandy Bridge in 2010. 2011 they go from 32 to 22 nm

You should probably check some of the latest sources. Last year there were some reports that Sandy Bridge would ship in late 2010 but now the best estimates are Q1 2011 or maybe even later. See this report from Feb. 2010:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/20100209194503_Intel_to_Release_Sandy_Bridge_Processors_New_Infrastructure_in_Q1_2011_Source.html

Or, this statement from AnandTech from IDF 2009:

Sandy Bridge is the next major architecture shift due out in the second half of 2011.

http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=3644&cp=4

jcn_13

Reader jcn_13 is not quite correct.? The i5 has four cores. The i7 has four cores plus hyperthreading which provides 8 virtual cores.

John, you may need to visit the link to the Intel data sheets that I provided earlier. The mobile version of the Core i3/i5/i7 (Arrandale) is dual core (except for the i7-820QM and i7-720QM which I mentioned earlier). Nearly all speculation about the next CPU for the MacBooks has centered on Arrandale and that’s most likely what Apple will use in the next revision (but, of course, we won’t know until Apple actually ships the update). Arrandale has a switchable, integrated graphics processor and its CPU is manufactured on a 32nm process (the GPU/memory controller and the CPU are manufactured as individual dies/chips and mounted in a single package).

As for the iMacs, they don’t use the mobile version of the Core i5/i7. The iMacs use the desktop, quad-core i5/i7 which was code named Lynnfield. Lynnfield has a higher Thermal Design Power (TDP), no integrated graphics, and is manufactured on a 45nm process but it is a single chip design rather than Arrandale’s dual-chip, single-package setup.

If you want to read a good overview of what Arrandale is going to mean for the mobile/notebook market you can reference this link to AnandTech:

http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=3705

And here again is the link to Intel’s Core i3/i5/i7 Desktop and Mobile CPUs:

http://www.intel.com/products/processor/index.htm

jameskatt

Apple’s problem with Intel’s latest CPUs is that they have a built-in GPU which is crap compared to nVidia’s GPUs.

Apple balked at having to use Intel’s crappy GPU technology.  And it is probably working on either having Intel custom build the latest CPUs without the GPU or finding a work-around so Apple can install nVidia’s class leading GPUs.

Another problem is that Intel and nVidia are embroiled in a lawsuit over licensing issues.  Intel wants to block nVidia from creating GPUs for chipsets containing its CPUs and told nVidia that it can’t build GPUs for its newest chips, that it doesn’t have a license to do this.

Given how Apple committed to using nVidia GPUs on its latest Macbooks and Macbook Pros, this put Apple in a bind.

Other manufacturers don’t care about using the best hardware designs.  But Apple does.  The problems with the current chips from Intel are holding up updates to the MacBook and MacBook Pros.

truth

I really hope Apple is using this extra time to work out the Big, Big problems that they’ve been having with reliability/durability!  iMacs are blowin’ up in so many ways, Snow Leopard doesn’t seem to be as rock solid as Leopard, (though it was promised to be much more so) and they have just issued an extended warranty on some faulty MacBook hard drives! 

I would gladly wait a little longer on product releases in a trade for greater stability/reliability over time!

I just want a supermini, or something w/expandable-versatile MOBO.  ITS TIME!  $2000+ for a computer with a PCI-E slot is more than a bit ridiculous in 2010!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Other manufacturers don?t care about using the best hardware designs.? But Apple does.? The problems with the current chips from Intel are holding up updates to the MacBook and MacBook Pros.

You can always tell a Mac user by the broken arm he has from patting himself on the back. Seriously, whether it’s Apple or any other manufacturer, it’s price, performance, product shelf-life, not who cares the most or has the most warm fuzzies around the office. The rest of the top 10 is a month or more ahead of Apple now with Intel’s latest CPUs. If you’ve needed to purchase a laptop since after Christmas, you really had to love Apple a lot to buy a MacBook or MBP, especially at Apple prices.

So what do you guys think will happen first? Tiger Woods returns to golf or MacBook refresh?

daemon

  And it is probably working on either having Intel custom build the latest CPUs without the GPU or finding a work-around so Apple can install nVidia?s class leading GPUs.

My, aren’t you the most uninformed buyer ever? Nehalem does not include a GPU core.

walnut

I think Sandy Bridge will be released before Apple ships a single product with Nahalem.

Apple isn?t known for being on the bleeding edge of technology!

I’m not sure how you could be more incorrect. The current MacPros are Nehelem-based, and Apple was shipping them a couple of months before any other vendor had the parts, which is a pretty good fit for “bleeding edge.”

jcn_13

jameskatt said:? And it is probably working on either having Intel custom build the latest CPUs without the GPU or finding a work-around so Apple can install nVidia?s class leading GPUs.
My, aren?t you the most uninformed buyer ever? Nehalem does not include a GPU core.

Well, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. The latest Core processors most certainly do have integrated GPUs. Both the Arrandale (Core i3/i5/i7 Mobile) and the Clarkdale (dual-core desktop i3/i5) have integrated GPUs. Besides that, jameskatt never mentioned Nehalem, he said “Intel’s latest CPUs” which could be either Arrandale or Clarkdale (although I think he was referring to Arrandale, Intel’s latest mobile CPU). In fact, some would claim that those two chips are Westmeres not Nehalems (although that point could be debated). Thus, daemon is incorrect on two points.

There are a lot of incorrect statements in this thread, and by my count most are coming from the anti-Mac posters. Let’s try to keep our facts straight, even more so if your going to call someone out on a technical point. Once again, here is a link to support my statements:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehalem_(microarchitecture)

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