Chips say a thinner, lighter Macbook Pro is coming

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If the Apple rumor machine is to be believed then we might soon see a lighter, skinnier and bigger brother of the current Macbook Airs in the market. A report from CPU Central, a blog covering computer processors, points to the April 8 launch of a new range of chipsets from Intel followed by the end-of-April launch of Ivy Bridge processors, which points to a new Macbook Pro.

CPU Central:

On April 8 Intel will announce Z77, Z75, H77 and B75 chipsets. On the same day we should see numerous reviews of 75 and 77 boards with, well, Sandy Bridge CPUs. Ivy Bridge processors will be announced in the 4th week of April, between April 22 and April 28. The announcement will include only quad-core models: mobile Core i7 and Core i7 Extreme families, desktop Core i7, Core i5-3570K, i5-3570T, i5-3550, i5-3550S, i5-3450 and i5-3450S. The announced chips will be available for sale on April 29.

What does this all mean? An iMac upgrade? Sure, why not. But my best guess is that sometime in early summer we will see the launch of a new 15-inch Macbook Pro that is thinner and lighter. Frankly, the current generation of Macbook Pros are long in the tooth. After you have used the 13-inch Macbook Air, switching back to even the fastest Macbook Pro feels like a step back — it is heavy and feels like a brick. Instapaper creator Marco Arment thinks that there could be two 15-inch machines, a Pro and an Air:

My guess is that they pick two: they make a 15″ Air that drops the Pro’s discrete GPUand downgrades to dual-core 17-watt CPUs, effectively pairing Air-class performance with a larger screen. In a 15″ Air-like chassis, this could be very cool-running and quiet with a great battery life and a significant weight savings from the 15″ MacBook Pro. Apple could plausibly launch such a 15″ Air in June with the 1.8 GHz i5-3427U and 2.0 GHz i7-3667U, also bringing those CPU options to the 11″ and 13″ Airs in a minor simultaneous update. To placate pro users and buy some time until Intel makes lower-wattage quad-core CPUs, Apple could keep selling the current-style 15″ MacBook Pro with fast, hot CPUs and GPUs alongside the 15″ Air.

Earlier this year, after reading a report on Electric Pig, Erica Ogg argued that it makes sense for Apple to merge the Air and Pro line-ups, and they would be better off simplifying things even further for mainstream consumers. What do you guys think?

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