Apple to split laptop lines

And Light Peak on Apple pics

APPLE IS DOING something quite interesting with the upcoming round of MacBooks, differentiating between the aluminum and plastic ones on a level deeper than the case material. Yes, the reassuringly expensive models are finally going to have something worth spending money on.

The same sources who told us about Apple and Light Peak, later confirmed by Engadget, told us about the soon to be revealed Apple notebooks. These are the last pre-Nvidia lovefest ones, massively delayed by Intel’s mobile Nehalem slips. The refresh was originally set for last spring, but now they are coming out ‘real soon’.

 Apple to split laptop lines

Note the receiving PC on the left

The difference is that the metal notebooks are going to be based on mobile Nehalems, while the plastic ones will stick with Penryn Core Number Numeral CPUs. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reason is GPUs. On the aluminum models, there is room for an external GPU, so that is exactly what you get. The plastic ones don’t have room for a separate GPU, so they are forced to stick with Penryn and the bug infested 9400.

Several sources have said that the Intel GPU will be permanently turned off, others say that it will be optional. After the 9400-9600 ‘power savings instead of hybrid’ fiasco of the last round, I would be surprised if it was under user control this time.

The last bit is in line with what Engadget is reporting as well, that there will be another refresh of the notebooks in mid-2010. If Light Peak can be polished up and, I repeat and, the ecosystem can make it as well, then you will see it in the 2010 refresh. If not, it will just be a minor tweak until the 2011 model. Let’s hope Apple and its suppliers make it.

 Apple to split laptop lines

Note the sending PC on the right

In any case, this time around will be significant because the two lines will have a real differentiator. Nehalem on the high and shiny side, Penryn for the coffee shop poseur crowd. For the next year at least, you will get what you pay for from Apple.S|A

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 Apple to split laptop lines

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.