Apple just announced its MacBook Air and the thing looks stunning. If you haven’t already seen the specs, here’s what we’re looking at:

3 lbs
0.16” - 0.76” x 12.8” x 8.94” (H x W x D)
Full Size keyboard from the MacBook
13.3” 1280 x 800 LED backlit screen
2GB DDR2-667
Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz, 800MHz FSB, 4MB shared L2
80GB 1.8” 4200RPM HDD or optional 64GB SSD
802.11n/Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Starting at $1799

The MacBook Air looks to be a very well designed ultra portable, making very few compromises (no optical drive, but you get a full sized keyboard) while keeping the size down.

One feature that stood out from Steve’s announcement of the Air was that it appears to use a low-voltage Merom based Core 2 Duo instead of an Ultra Low Voltage Merom like most of its competitors.

Standard Merom (65nm) based Core 2 Duo processors run off of a 1.0375 - 1.3000V core voltage under normal operating conditions (full clock frequency). These chips range from 1.8GHz all the way up to 2.6GHz (not including Extreme Edition parts).

Low Voltage Core 2 Duo processors are lower yielding parts that can work at lower voltages, and thus Intel charges a small premium for these chips since they aren’t as common. These LV Core 2 Duos run at 0.9V - 1.2000V under normal operating conditions, and they are available in 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz speeds. We believe that these are the cores Apple is using in the MacBook Air.

Ultra Low Voltage Core 2 Duos drop operating voltage even lower, down to 0.8V - 0.975V, but clock speeds are limited to 1.06 - 1.33GHz. Mobile Penryn will eventually be offered in a ULV version, at which point we expect clock speeds to jump a bit but not enough for Apple’s needs.

Apple wanted the MacBook Air to be no-compromises, and thus the LV Core 2 Duo made the most sense. Mobile Penryn would’ve actually made even more sense, since the move to 45nm not only increases battery life but reduces thermal output; unfortunately there are no Low Voltage versions of the new core, not to mention that availability is extremely limited.

So with relative certainty we know what CPU core Apple is using in the MacBook Pro (there is no 4MB L2 Penryn and Intel wouldn’t spin a new version of a CPU just for Apple so we’re dealing with a 65nm Merom), but the bigger question is one of packaging size.

Intel's SFF Merom: Just for Apple


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  • bigboxes - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    B-b-but it's silver and "It just works.™" Reply
  • vailr - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    The keynote presentation also mentioned an external USB 2.0 Super Drive available for $99. Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    There is also a USB NIC for the the Macbook Air. It does cost $29 but hey at least you can go wired if you have to. Reply
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    you said "making very few compromises "

    very few? i'm sorry, when is
    no ethernet port,
    no opitical drive.
    no expansion slot (pc card or otherwise). no slot for a future dock.
    1 usb port!!!
    no media card reader
    and a 1.8 hdd

    Few compromises. Laptop is nice looking, amazing infact. But its form winning over funtion.

    Steve said that now people can rent movies on itunes. when i'm on a plane and want to watch a movie... sorry no can do. you must copy it over. but wait, how do i get it on their. hmmm.

    so many problems with this thing, yet you claim 'making very few compromises"

    what video card does this thing use?

    and the perfomance of a 1.8 hdd. like you said yourself, get the flash drive. because 1.8hdd is bottom of the pits performance, perfect for an ipod. Talk about hell for operating an os.

    tomshardware ran tests on some a year or so ago. that 15-16mb read rate, and 20mb writes are just amazing.

    apple could have went with the 1.3ghz core cpus, because the cpu will be waiting for data

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    Compared to standard notebooks, agreed, the MacBook Air has made a number of compromises. But compared to ultra portables, some of the biggest compromises aren't there.

    I've used ultra portables almost exclusively for years, starting back in my early college days. The keyboard is almost always bad enough where it hinders my productivity, and CPU speed does matter - there's a big difference between a ULV Merom at 1 - 1.33GHz and one running at 1.8GHz.

    The MacBook Air isn't perfect by any means, but it looks to be a good attempt at an ultra portable for those who need it.

  • michal1980 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    and the reason I dont give a pass to apple is because they are saying its a 'complete' notebook, just shrunk. they want their cake and eat it too.

    ethier its an ultra protable that is missing a lot of features. or its a complete notebook, (which we all know its not).

    its cute how apple now comes out and says who needs optical media

    whats next, a protable laptop without a screen, because apple says you can plug into any tv and use that screen?

    To me this is an example of engineers having too much power, and jobs falling of his rocker.

    even if I give you that the dvd drive seprate is something that has been done.

    The lack of an ethernet port. more then 1 usb hook up. and a lack of a pc card slot make this laptop a toy.

    For example, 3com used to make pop out jacks, not the best solution, but would work for having a ethernet port, and would still be compact.

    is the battery even user replacable? seems like once again apple says no to that.
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    with 2 secs of research on ultra protables I found this one.">

    It includes this:
    VGA-out (ihmo more usefull with more projectors)
    headphone/microphone jacks
    USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader
    PC Card slot
    modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
    DVD burner

    Price as reviewed/starting price $2,149/$1,999
    Processor 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7600
    Memory 1GB, 667MHz DDR2
    Hard drive 120GB 5,400rpm
    Chipset Intel 965
    Graphics Mobile Intel Express 950GM (integrated)
    Operating system Windows Vista Premium
    Dimensions (WDH) 11.1 x 8.5 x .77 inches
    Screen size (diagonal) 12.1 inches
    System weight / Weight with AC adapter [pounds] 2.4/3.1 pounds
    Category Ultraportable

    The processor is a bit slower but the review was almost 6 months ago.

    look at how thick that is. OMG .77in. a whole .01 thick then the AIR

    and yes the keyboard is smaller. But i've gotten used to a smaller keyboard as long as its not crazy small.

    So for apple to jump up and down like they invented the wheel, is fine for apple. For the media to then crown them like they are the holy grail of technology, shame on the media.
  • cscpianoman - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    You know, if you do a comparison do it right.

    Wander over to Dell and check out their ultra-portable 13.3in laptop.

    It has the following:
    3-year warranty
    Home Premium
    2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo
    3GB Memory
    200GB 7200rpm drive
    CD/DVD Burner
    128MB nVidia 8400GS/HDMI out
    Fingerprint reader
    Microsoft Office Home & Student
    Adobe Premiere and Photoshop Elements
    85kwh battery

    All this for $1878. The computer is approx. 4.7lbs, but has a 9 hour battery life and is only 1.3inches high.
  • tayhimself - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    You called a 4.7 lb computer an ultraportable?????? * mind boggles* Reply
  • Scott66 - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    cramped keyboard, 1 inch smaller screen, A video GPU that is unable to fully run the included Vista and not a LED screen. Half the ram and $200-400 more. A much slower and power sucking CPU just sweetens the deal. Thankfully the smaller screen keeps the battery life within reach of the air

    Apple didn't invent the ultra portable but they made one with full size keyboard and a wonderful screen. I would prefer to have a removeable battery but that would require extra weight and at least greater length or width to handle the enclosure and connections. I want native DVI out because it provides many more options.

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