MacBooks not upgradable to Merom

MacBooks not upgradable to Merom

Summary: A lot of people wanted to see a new MacBook Pro based on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor (code-name "Merom") at WWDC, but as I've said here before, it's just too soon. The MacBook Pro (15-inch) was announced less than five months ago - on February 14th and Apple doesn't want to make all their new MBP customers obsolete with a chip upgrade that soon. Not to mention the existing inventory of MBPs they'd be sacrificing.

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TOPICS: Processors
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merom_yonah_400.jpg

A lot of people wanted to see a new MacBook Pro based on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor (code-name "Merom") at WWDC, but as I've said here before, it's just too soon. The MacBook Pro (15-inch) was announced less than five months ago - on February 14th and Apple doesn't want to make all their new MBP customers obsolete with a chip upgrade that soon. Not to mention the existing inventory of MBPs they'd be sacrificing.

Intel released the Core 2 Duo T7600 processor ("Merom" pictured left) on July 27 to replace the Core Duo T2600 ("Yonah" pictured right) found in the current MacBook and MacBook Pro. Core 2 Duo features 4MB of L2 Cache (compared to 2MB in the T2600) and is supposed to run cooler. Although Apple has been sampling Merom chips for a couple of months the processors won't be available in quantity until the second half of August, according to Intel.

Initial benchmarks comparing the T7600 and T2600 chips observed only a 12 percent improvement in Mobile Marks and a 7 percent jump in battery running time, but Mobile Marks are somewhat antiquated and may not be relevant to Mac users.

The good news (according to AnandTech) is that:

If you've got a 945GM or 945PM equipped notebook, then the Core 2 Duo should be a drop in replacement for your Core Duo processor.

(The MacBook Pro ships with an Intel 945PM chipset and the MacBook, iMac and Mac mini are based on the Intel 945GM chipset.)

The bad news is that although Merom is pin-compatible with Yonah you need a socket interface in order to upgrade to Merom. Both the MacBook and MacBook Pro have Ball Grid Array (BGA) interfaces so upgrading them to Merom is out of the question - unless you really like to solder. AnandTech continues:

If you've got a Core Duo notebook with a PGA Socket-M interface, all you should need is a BIOS update and a Core 2 Duo CPU to upgrade your notebook.  If you've got a BGA CPU, then you're unfortunately out of luck as desoldering 479 balls from your motherboard without damaging it isn't for the faint of heart.
One consolation is that the iMac and Mac mini have socketed interfaces making Merom upgrades possible - but doing so will void your warranty.

Topic: Processors

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7 comments
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  • Dell has Core 2 Duo notebooks on their UK Web site

    I'm not sure if it's just a slip up or not, but Dell is already listing Core 2 Duo/Merom chipped notebooks on their UK site:

    http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/09/dell-has-core-2-duo-laptops-in-the-wings/

    "Their UK website lists Core 2 Duo versions of their XPS M1210, M1710, M2010 and Inspiron e1705 and e1505 laptops, while the US support site mentions a BIOS update to allow current owners of those laptops to upgrade to Merom processors."

    No official word from the "big D"

    - Jason
    Jason D. O'Grady
  • 2 Core Duo Mac Book Pros

    In your opinion, when will Apple release updated versions of their Mac Book Pro laptops with the new 2 Core Duo chips? Late August, early September?
    caliberry
    • MacBook Pro Release Dates...

      I just did some simple analysis of Powerbook/MacBook release
      dates and speed bump dates going back to 2001 and the release
      of the Titanium Powerbook.

      Based on these dates, a new enclosure is released every 2.5-3.5
      years, and speed bumps are released every 7-9 months on the
      laptop line. Given the transition to Intel chips, I think we can
      push case revisions back an additional 10-12 months to
      compensate for these changes.

      Looking at these numbers, and aligning them with the back-to-
      school and holiday buying season, an October-November
      release of Merom laptops in the current case seems appropraite.
      Plenty of time to clear the channel, just late enough to miss the
      school purchases, but in time for gift season.

      Anyone else with me on this? I know I'm waiting for Meroms
      before I upgrade my current G4 Powerbook.
      Mixotic
      • Data may not be relevant

        I'm not sure it does you much good to look at data concerning speed bumps from the IBM/Motorola PPC days. Neither company was very good at increasing chip speed, so the schedule Apple met may have been what they were forced to do, not what they really wanted to do.
        tic swayback
    • Look at supply issues

      I think Apple will be ready for the switch to Core 2 as soon as they
      have ample supplies. They are not going to want to be several
      months behind Dell & the other OEMs on the move. In terms of
      existing inventories, they are probably working on that right now. I
      would be surprised if the old Cores get past the Paris Keynote.
      Ken_z
      • Ken and Tic, both good points...

        What I was trying to get at was, given the history of releases, when
        do we figure to see new Core 2 laptops. Apple has, historically, hit
        this "sweet spot" between back-to-school and holiday purchasing,
        and I don't see any reason why that shuold change with this
        upgrade.

        I completely forgot about Paris though, and that would be close
        enough to my timing to make me happy ;-)
        Mixotic
        • I find this page to be useful

          http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/
          tic swayback