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Small Intel CPU price leak hints future MacBook Air

updated 09:55 am EST, Fri February 22, 2008

SFF Intel CPU Launch Leak

Details have surfaced about the final specs and pricing of Intel's first small form factor Montevina platform processors for notebooks that point to the first likely upgrade for the MacBook Air as well as for future ultraportables, say notebook builders. The slip confirms earlier claims and points to two low voltage processors that are now known to be the most likely candidates for the upgrade. The 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo SL9300 and the 1.86GHz SL9400 will be close in clock speed to the existing 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz processors but should still boost performance while reducing the power draw.

The new designs share the same extra-small packaging but run a faster 1,066MHz system bus (up from 800MHz) as well as a larger 6MB Level 2 cache; simultaneously, the two both have a thermal design power (TDP) of 17 watts versus the 20 watts of the design tailored to Apple's notebook, potentially extending battery life.

These new processors will be priced at $284 and $316 respectively in 1,000-unit batches, according to the report, making them feasible choices for upgrades to the extra-thin computer. No sources have yet leaked Apple's prices. The Cupertino firm has also developed a recent history of using non-standard processors and may turn to custom processors for any future releases, though notebooks such as the ThinkPad X300 may use the technology.

Most other small-package processors will hover at or near this price point, according to the report. The normal-voltage 2.26GHz SP9300 and 2.4GHz SP9400 will claim similar pricing by allowing power usage to creep up to a more normal 25 watts, while ultra-low voltage 1.2GHz (SU9300 and U3300) and 1.4GHz (SU9400) models will be priced slightly lower at $262 and $284 in large numbers and consume no more than 10 watts at peak. A budget 1.2GHz Celeron 723 will sell for $161 by cutting the Level 2 cache back to 1MB.

Release dates for these processors have not been disclosed, though the Montevina platform is believed to be making its debut in May.

Three very low-cost mobile processors are now known to be appearing for the earlier Santa Rosa platform, which uses a slower 800MHz system bus. While clock speeds are uncertain, the Celeron 570 should appear on April 6th and sell for $134, followed by the Celeron 550 and 560 on April 20th for $86 and $107.

by MacNN Staff



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