Monday, Intel detailed the next generation chips that could be headed for the next iterations of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The chipset, named Broadwell, comes out of Intel’s next generation fabricating process which outputs chips at 14-nanometer. That means that Intel can create chips that are both more powerful and more battery efficient. In this case there is also the added benefit of lower heat generation, which means computers like the MacBook Air can rely less on fans.
Benefits of Broadwell
In addition to the added power that is expected with a new Intel chip release, these new Broadwell chips will allow Apple to make slimmer laptops. According to the chipset’s design specifications, the chips have a thermal design point that is two times less than the previous generation. Bypassing the technical aspect of that, it basically means that these chips run about two times cooler than the pervious Intel chipset.
Currently the MacBook Air is one of the thinnest notebooks on the market. The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, remains much thicker. With the inclusion of these new chips, that could change.
The added power and battery benefits of these new Broadwell chips may finally allow Apple to release a retina-equipped MacBook Air. The previous Intel Chips had neither the power nor the battery savings needed in order to run a computer with a retina screen. Apple’s Retina MacBook Pros use the higher-end Intel processors, and have much bigger batteries.
There have been rumors of a 12 inch Apple MacBook that is similar to the MacBook Air in design, but contains a larger battery and a retina display.
Like most Intel chips that come off a new fabricating process, the Broadwell chip family has been constantly delayed. Part of the announcement today detailed the release schedule for the new chips. Intel says that computers containing the lower-end, battery saving processors will be out by the end of this year.
Looking at Apple’s release cycle, this announcement may have come too late to see any new Macs with these processors this year. Apple traditionally updates its MacBooks in the fall at its October event or in June at WWDC. If Apple does choose to release new hardware using Broadwell, it’s likely that any major refreshes don’t appear until sometime in 2015.
The chipset family includes several different chips. The only one that will be ready for release this year is the Core M processor. Unfortunately, that will be too small for any Apple laptop, as it only runs at 5 watts, not the 15 that runs in Apple’s MacBook Air line. The larger chips that contain the power Apple would need for the rumored 12 inch retina MacBook are slated for early 2015, making it much more likely that Apple will have to wait to release new hardware equipped with the latest Intel chipset.