updated 03:10 pm EDT, Thu July 14, 2011
Macbook Air 2011 to get storage upgrades
Supply chain investigations by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on Thursday gave hints that the new MacBook Air may see an across-the-board upgrade beyond just the processors. Apple has reportedly dropped Airs with 2GB of RAM or 64GB solid-state drives, giving even the base 11-inch system 4GB of RAM and 128GB of space. Kuo told AppleInsider that the company wanted to improve Lion's performance.
SSDs would still come on removable micro SATA sticks and not, as rumored, come embedded in the mainboard.
The researcher understood that some, not all, of Intel's new low-voltage Core i5 and i7s would reach the mix. The 1.6GHz Core i5 2467M, 1.7GHz Core i7 2637M, and 1.8GHz Core i7 2677M would all find their ways into some systems. Whether or not this represents the entire processor choice isn't evident; both the i5 and i7 models use the same power, and Apple could use slightly more power hungry 2.1GHz or 2.3GHz Core i7 models in the larger 13-inch MacBook Air.
The modernized processors would also address up to 8GB of RAM, although it wasn't clarified whether that will be a build-to-order option.
Backlit keyboards were already poised to make their return, which Kuo supported in his own checks.
The Air refresh is increasingly poised to be Apple's most important Mac update of the year. It should now represent one of the largest performance leaps and will come just as the ultraportable's sales are due to take off. Estimates have it growing from hundreds of thousands a quarter to as many as 1.5 million a quarter, enough to make the largest single model in Apple's lineup. Kuo saw Apple not just having a popular model but hoping to dictate the path of computers themselves.
"Apple is redefining the notebook and we believe other brand vendors will follow Apple's design requirements," he said.