IDF and the new Mac notebooks

IDF and the new Mac notebooks

Summary: The Intel Developer Forum makes it clear what Apple's new notebooks - which I predict will be announced Tuesday, September 16 - will offer. Will it be worth the wait?

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The Intel Developer Forum makes it clear what Apple's new notebooks - which I predict will be announced Tuesday, September 16 - will offer. Will it be worth the wait? If longer battery life and higher performance are important to you - yes.

And if you weren't waiting? The new designs and features may make you rethink your allegiance to Windows - as so many already have.

IDF tells us a lot So what's coming? Here's what the Storage Bits crystal ball reveals:

  • Quad cores. The Lenovo W700 already offers quad core computing in a large notebook. Apple dominates the high-end notebook space so they can do no less. Not on all Macs but certainly on the high end 15"and 17" notebooks.
  • Switchable graphics. Graphics cards are power hogs. Turning off a gigabyte of VRAM and the graphics chip is a big power saver. Users don't need dedicated graphics surfing the web and reading email. This will be a feature on the high-end notebooks, while the low end Mac books will continue with integrated graphics.
  • WiMax. An optional daughtercard as Bluetooth and WiFi once were, but most people laying out three large for a notebook won't mind an extra $99.
  • Solid-state disks. Since Apple controls both the hardware and the software their have unparalleled ability to leverage SSDs. Expect dual drive notebooks with a 64 GB flash drive for the OS and applications paired with a 160 GB 1.8 inch disk drive for additional capacity and performance.
  • Larger memory capacity. RAM may be an energy hog but it sure makes high-end notebooks faster and more stable. Expect to see the current 4 GB memory limit go to at least 8 GB.
  • RGB LED backlight. Another high-end feature that will be very attractive to the creative user. RGB backlights are not only more energy-efficient but sport a much wider color gamut than existing cold cathode fluorescent lights. You'll be able to edit video AND color correct it on one machine.
  • No internal optical drives. Apple has usually led the industry in losing old stuff and supporting new stuff. Dropping floppys. Supporting USB and FireWire. The MBA has shown the way: no optical drive and who really misses it? Blu-ray is the coming thing - but putting the current slow drives in notebooks is a recipe for customer complaints.
  • Blu-ray support. One advantage to going to external optical drives is that Blu-ray is still in its infancy. I haven't seen a notebook ready, slot loading, Blu-ray burner that is any faster than 2x. External drives can be larger, faster and easily upgraded.
  • 64 bit hardware - except for RAM, where 36 bit (64 GB) HW addressing will handle growth demand for the next the next 6 years. Yes, Snow Leopard will go higher, but the hardware doesn't need to support everything the OS can do.
  • A glass trackpad the size of an iPhone screen with context-sensitive soft buttons, gestures and - long overdue - 3-button support.
  • Pervasive power management. As I and others have documented, SSDs alone save very little power. In a comprehensive redesign they make much more sense.

But what will they look like? Apple employs some of the finest industrial designers in the world. Trying to second-guess them isn't easy - even for top designers, which I am most certainly not.

The design language will follow the MacBook Air. Bevelled edges in a slimmer and lighter case will be the norm. Expect more obvious visual cues that play off the iPhone's black and chrome look.

Apple has lots of other technology that it can incorporate to create a real geewhiz experience. No one in the industry does it better. Whatever they do there will be some hits and some misses but the image of their design leadership will continue.

The Storage Bits take That's the last on Apple's next-generation notebooks. After the announcement I'll do a post-mortem on how well I did.

This is a critical moment for Apple. Despite the success of the iPhone and iPod, the Macbooks are Apple's single largest product line. They have the opportunity to really strengthen the Apple brand and boost their already torrid unit sales growth.

Apple's notebook team has been working on these products for years. Their tight HW and SW integration coupled with Microsoft's long development cycles means that Apple will be well positioned to take market share.

Whether you are a Windows or a Mac fan the competition will benefit us all.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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38 comments
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  • I hope the optical drive rumor isn't true...

    I hope the optical drive rumor isn't true, I want mine
    integrated.
    olePigeon
    • Absolutely agree

      Dropping the internal optical drive would mean my dropping the purchase of a new Mac notebook this year. If you want an external Blue ray drive, you can buy one separately.
      jorjitop
  • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

    Hmm...

    Virtually every PC maker has a quad core laptop.

    Virtually every PC maker has ram support of at least 8GB in their high end notebooks.

    Plenty of main stream business laptops have no optical drives.

    Every PC maker has blue-ray support, except Apple.

    Every PC maker has 64-bit support, except Apple.

    Windows Vista already has extensive power management options.


    Who's behind the times, now? Why would I rethink my allegiance to Windows?
    cfischer83
    • Graphics Card Stepping, too

      Alienware has a laptop that will step through various graphics card capabilities to save power, and has had it out for several months.
      brble
    • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

      [i]Virtually every PC maker has a quad core laptop.[/i]

      So? Not everybody out there wants a gaming laptop, let alone an Apple.

      [i]Virtually every PC maker has ram support of at least 8GB in their high end notebooks.[/i]

      Only with a 64bit system. Guess what % that still is...

      [i]Plenty of main stream business laptops have no optical drives.[/i]

      There are a few, but they haven't caught on like the Apple Air

      [i]Every PC maker has blue-ray support, except Apple.[/i]

      True.

      [i]Every PC maker has 64-bit support, except Apple.[/i]

      True.

      [i]Windows Vista already has extensive power management options.[/i]

      No comment.

      [i]Who's behind the times, now? Why would I rethink my allegiance to Windows?[/i]

      You don't have to. Nobody's making you do anything.
      hasta la Vista, bah-bie
      • This article says so.

        My point was that this article is saying that Apple is ahead of everyone else, and each thing he mentioned that Apple *might* come out with is already out there and already mainstream for the most part.

        <i>Only with a 64bit system. Guess what % that still is... </i>

        Higher than the market share of a little computer company in Cupertino named Apple. Go read Ed Bott's article about 64 bit computing http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=506
        cfischer83
    • Re: Re: IDF and New Macbooks

      Virtually every PC maker has a quad core laptop.
      [i](Actually.. Neither Dell, nor HP, have quad core laptops.)[/i]


      Virtually every PC maker has ram support of at least 8GB in their high end notebooks.
      [i](only in very high end, and my Macbook Pro has 8gb of ram in it, works just like it should)[/i]

      [i]Plenty of main stream business laptops have no optical drives.
      (not really, Lenovo has a laptop that doesn't, as well as apple, fujitsu has one, but dell doesnt, hp recently does in a sub 13-inch, so does asus, again, in a sub 11-inch)[/i]

      Every PC maker has blue-ray support, except Apple.
      [i](Apple does has blu-ray support. Plug in any blu-ray drive and download the proper codec, and you can watch blu-ray video, and burn to blu-ray. Roxio has a viewing application for OS X for blu-ray out right now.)[/i]

      Every PC maker has 64-bit support, except Apple.
      [i](By every pc maker I assume you mean Microsoft, since every intel/amd chip currently on the market, aside from the small form factor chips, which i am not sure on their support, has some variation of x86-64. Apple has had 64-bit support since Tiger, and is a completely 64-bit OS starting with Snow Leopard, meaning it wont run on anything other than 64-bit processors. Microsoft has 64-bit support, yes, but they still are run mostly in 32-bit mode, where all of Apples Intel-based Macs are 64-bit, as well as some of the PPC based systems.)[/i]

      Windows Vista already has extensive power management options.
      [i](So does Apple, but neither have good power management options to use the potential power savings of an SSD drive, which was the authors point)[/i]

      Who's behind the times, now? Why would I rethink my allegiance to Windows?

      [i] no one is asking you to. [/i]
      jrdonnaruma
      • Dell has had it for a while...

        All thier "4" series laptops (the L400, C400, D400, D410, etc) are all 13" notebooks that have external Optical.

        So no, it HAS had no internal optical for a while now.
        ivanotter
    • Possibly...

      [i]"Every PC maker has blue-ray support, except Apple.

      Every PC maker has 64-bit support, except Apple."[/i]

      Apple does have Blu-Ray support and 64-bit memory
      addressing.

      [i]"Why would I rethink my allegiance to Windows?"[/i]

      If you're happy with Windows, you obviously won't. People
      who are looking for an alternative might see this is a great
      opportunity to switch.
      olePigeon
  • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

    I would gladly fore go the CD/DVD for lower power, more RAM and that selectable video speed option.

    I think they will release all this a week earlier than mentioned to catch the late back to school people.

    In addition it has been going on 3 - 4 weeks since they notified resellers that iPods, iTouchs and notebooks would be in short supply.

    Does anyone recall Apple's announcement date last September??
    DaveLG526
  • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

    "The new designs and features may make you rethink your allegiance to Windows - as so many already have."

    Why so ?
    What of the features you are talking of is not already or will not be very soon available on other companies Laptops ?
    Btw,if i would either rethink my allegiance to Windows,my new allegiance would be to Linux which would enable me to do more than i could ever do with either Windows or Mac OS X and on cheaper hardware too.
    Personnaly i am only interested by either Linux based netbooks,for maximun portability, and up to 20" desktop replacement,such as the pavillon HDX, loaded with a paravirtualisation solution such as Xen (or the upcoming Hyper V Windows) to run several O.S simultaneously with maximun performance.
    I doubt that Apple could offer me either of this.
    timiteh
    • There is a long list...

      of things that both OSX and Windows will do,
      which Linux will not. There is nothing I know of
      that can be done with Linux, which OSX will not
      also do. Most popular open-source software
      available for Linux is also available for OSX, since
      both of them have a common UNIX heritage. On
      the other hand, very little commercial software is
      available for Linux, because its users generally
      want their software for free. OSX doesn't have
      much in the way of games, but still much more
      than Linux.

      I have installed 2 different flavors of Linux,
      Windows 2000, XP, and VISTA under virtual
      machines running in OSX on a Macbook Pro. XP is
      the only one of these used for actual work. The
      others are only installed in order to learn
      something of how they work. Most work is done
      natively in OSX.
      arminw
  • How does taking all the announcements ....

    ... from IDF and combining them with all the Mac rumours constitute a blog entry. You Apple fanatics are so desperate to validate your own purchasing decisions you have to write about nothing. Really pathetic!
    ShadeTree
    • AHAHAHAHA

      Did you feel that left out that you had to validate your own self worth with such a comment?

      He's just making guesses.

      "After the announcement I?ll do a post-mortem on how well I did.?"

      Here , I'll do one too:

      Shadetree - As Apple becomes increasingly more popular, Shadetree will not only become more diligent in his mocking of Apple, it's products, and users, he will become increasingly less relevant as time passes.

      In a few years I?ll do a post-mortem on how well I did. ;)
      Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
  • Rehtink my allegiance to windows???

    If your predictions are true, it will be an improvement over what they currently have but I am not sure it is enough for me to change my entire workflow. I use mac products but not the MBP which I intend to purchase when the new ones come out. And I plan to run windows on it too.

    Dell released a new laptop last week with technology that I did not even think was possible within a laptop.
    rjohn05
    • which Dell?

      [b]Dell released a new laptop last week with technology that I
      did not even think was possible within a laptop.[/b]

      Which one is that?
      barbose
  • ...

    posted in wrong spot!
    cfischer83
  • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

    Macs are crap. I did warranty work for a year (in 2006) on Apples and they are crap. First,they do NOT control the hardware, I have personally seen their hardware, Samsung HDD and intel chips, standard CD or DVD players/readers just like any other laptop.

    Mac takes existing hardware and crams it into space not suitable for it (especially in laptops, not so much in desktops) and as a result, massive heat problems occur. One person I dealt with recorded a temperature of 198 degrees for his escape key on a Mac Laptop

    There is little software for a Mac, they are WAY TOO EXPENSIVE (this is partly why they will never overtake Microsoft). The company that builds macs will not reveal certain pieces of information to you that is critical to the operation of your system. They have a separate area in their support website that requires a login and password that contains information about the hardware YOU are shelling out 3 large for that they will not reveal to the customer.

    But the best one I truely LOVE is the claim that Macs do not get viruses or that they are 'unhackable' - this is the true deception here

    OS X (Tiger) is built on a unix frame so anything that hacks unix can potentially hack a Mac as well. And if they really had NO VIRUSES why would Symantec offer a Mac compatible Anti-Virus program? Seems silly to buld a program to tackle viruses that never happen eh?

    Has MAc got a decent DB to run on thir system yet? Something like an Oracle or SQL Server (with equivalent power and abilities)

    I never had an issue with MAcs until I started fixing them and really learning how that company runs, you think Microsoft is bad?
    RobinInTheHood
    • RE: IDF and the new Mac notebooks

      I didn't know that MS made computers, so I'm impressed you know about them.

      Mac servers would of course be a better platform for hosting a server than would a laptop.

      Antivirus programs are all written for the altruistic reason of protecting users' computers. Writing them with the intent of selling them for profit is, of course, never done.

      The cost of Macs has been shown in a number of studies to be less than that of other PCs, when the costs of maintenance and required tech support are figured in. Without hard data to support your argument, did you really feel it necessary to state your conclusion in all caps?

      Some people are very pleased that elegantly packaging hardware into smaller and lighter configurations has been the direction of the entire industry. It is great to lug around a 10 kg desktop computer, but that gets old fast. I get tired fast.

      Oh my, in the past, Apple was criticized for using non-standard components. Now it uses industry-best parts. The hardware is not merely the sum total of the collection of components, but includes how these components are configured and the overall design of the unit. Very few credentialed reviewers have had much bad to say about Apple internal design vis a vis other PCs.

      Oh, you say that you did warranty work on Apples for a year in 2006. Given your prejudices and the personality you project, may I be the first to say how pleased I am by what you said - that you only did this for one year. I'm sure you left only because these computers were not worthy of your valuable attention, right?

      Bruce
      artiste212
      • lol pwnd

        ...
        TacoSauce