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MacBook Pro refresh with faster core i7 CPUs likely for fall release

Sections: Laptops, MacBook Pro, Macintosh/Apple Hardware

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corefamilyWith Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge mobile processors not expected until March 2012, it’s highly probable Apple will release a MacBook Pro refresh in the company’s traditional fall calendar envelope for laptop upgrades, somewhere from mid-October to late November, to keep interest up and goose sales a bit over the winter.

That probability has been reinforced by Intel announcing that upgraded Sandy Bridge Core i7 processors will be released soon, dovetailing nicely with Apple’s traditional product update schedule, to headline a timely fall MacBook Pro refresh.

CPU World’s Gennadiy Shvets notes that it’s been quite a while since the introduction of the first Sandy Bridge mobile processors from the Core i7 family in January of this year. Since then, Intel has launched Sandy Bridge CPUs from other families, with Core i3s and i5s introduced in February. He reports that we can expect faster Sandy Bridge CPUs to launch in the second half of the year and in the 1st quarter 2012, with the refreshed Core i7’s first up in Q4 2011 with four new models: Core i7-2640M, i7-2760QM, i7-2860QM, and i7-2960XM.

Core i7-2640M will have two CPU cores and four threads operating at 2.8 GHz with turbo-boost as high as 3.5 GHz when the second core is idle. That’s 100 MHz higher than the current fastest dual-core i7-2620M. The CPU has 4 MB L3 cache, 35 Watt TDP, and supports DDR3-1333 memory. Look for this one to show up in the next high-end 13″ MacBook Pro.

Core i7-2760QM and i7-2860QM will be quad-core chips with locked clock multiplier, running 200 MHz higher than their predecessors, Core i7-2720QM and i7-2820QM. The 2760QM and 2860QM CPUs have 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz clock speed respectively, boostable in single-core tasks to 3.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz respectively. The i7-2760QM gets a 6 MB L3 cache, while the i7-2860QM will have an 8 MB L3 cache. Both CPUs support DDR3-1600 memory, and have higher (45 Watt) power requirements than Core i7 dual-cores. The i7-2760QM will likely power the base 15″ MacBook Pro, while the i7-2860QM will probably be fitted on high-end 15″ and 17″ Pros.

A Core i7-2960XM Extreme Edition will be the only forthcoming Core i7 model with unlocked multiplier. Running at 2.7 GHz, it can go as high as 3.7 GHz in turbo mode. It will have an 8 MB L3 cache, 55 Watt Thermal Design Power, and support DDR3-1600 memory. We won’t see this one in a MacBook Pro, however, because that 55 Watt TDP is just too sultry.

The new Core i7 CPUs will incorporate all Sandy Bridge features and integrate Intel’s HD 3000 graphics controller with 650 MHz stock frequency and 1.3 GHz turbo frequency, and will be available in the 4th quarter of 2011.

Read [CPU World]

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  • David Exton

    I just hope they give the 13" a spec sheet worthy of the name 'pro', especially considering the huge improvements to the Air range last week.
    Surely the 'pro' range is now for graphics professionals/hobbyists which means, at least, a discrete graphics card.

  • Titanium81

    I can't wait for the refresh of the MacBook Pro's… hopefully the case will be made out of Liquid Metal!

  • Sven

    I don't see the 17" MBP being 'Air:ised', as it would not be rigid enough, bit suspicious of the 15", too. Remember, the screen IS glass. I see the 13" MBP being dropped for the 13" Air. I've seen reports that the Airs are slow with a 'mere' 4Gb, merely going online slows them markedly, and the vaunted battery-life is a bit suspect. I think Apple will go SSD over the range, drop the Superdrive and use the extra space for a bigger battery, they do sell an external unit for those who need one (me, and I still use an external floppy-drive for quick backups, quicker and cheaper than burning Cd's). The iMac is the interesting one. To upgrade the RAM means you need to remove the screen (glass!) so I think a new one is on the cards built like the laptops, all mounted via the back, behind a cover, only the screen being mounted from the front. I'd love a 17" MBP – I don't mind the old mechanical 750Mb HD as it would just sit at home – but the money is horrendous for a pensioner. The best buy for the buck is the top-spec 21" iMac, and as it seems we have to wait 6 months before and new laptops arrive – and will they be what I want contra the present models – I am leaning towards it …but the thought of a 'rear-entrance uni-body' iMac with a big 1Gb SSD is confusing me: do I buy or do I wait? I think we would have new gear already but the earthquake/tsunami in Japan delayed things.