Saturday, November 26, 2005

Intel iBook for January?

Several websites are reporting that Apple is preparing for a release of an Intel iBook in January. If it is only the iBook that is updated in January with an x86 chip, then this would be an interesting situation for Apple. According to Intel's mobile CPU roadmap January will see the release of a single-core and a dual-core Yonah CPU, both with 2 MB L2 cache. The iBook will undoubtedly get a single-core CPU, but I would have expected it to get the cheaper single-core Yonah with 1 MB L2. However that chip isn't scheduled for release until Q2 2006. One of several things could be true: 1) There is no January iBook, or 2) The iBook will get a souped up 2 MB L2 single-core Yonah, or 3) The roadmap is wrong. A souped up Yonah single-core would not be extremely cheap. One would hope that Intel in the iBook doesn't mean increased prices over what current iBooks cost. Perhaps there is a fourth option: Maybe the Intel machine for January isn't an iBook at all. Besides the possible Intel Mac mini, it could be that Apple will introduce a replacement to the 12" PowerBook. This would make sense, since at the last PowerBook update the 12" saw no significant upgrades.

The other interesting part about this iBook prediction is the fact that there is no mention of any upgrade to the PowerBook line. If the iBook (or smallest PowerBook) did get the single-core Yonah with 2 MB L2 in January, it'd be at 1.66 GHz. Such a chip would be faster than the G4 in any current PowerBook in existence (at least with software that runs natively on x86). For this reason one would expect that after such an update, it wouldn't be too long before the (larger) PowerBooks got upgraded too. However, I will admit that one problem with this reasoning is the spectre of software compatibility. PowerBook users often need pro Mac software, and an early PowerBook Intel migration would mean that some pro software may not work on these machines. However, if the Altivec'd Rosetta rumours are true, then this pro software issue could be somewhat less significant.


Anonymous said...

I think what's missing from Intel's January road map is the ultra low voltage version of the new processor. But even the standard low voltage version has an edge on the G4 in terms of heat dissipation (it's 15-24 watts according to the Register's November 21 article on the launch, while the ULV is 14 or less and the G4 tops out at something like 30), so the goods are there for Apple to switch the entire notebook line if they wish.

My expectation is that is exactly what will happen.

Anonymous said... not be surprised if Apple choose to cripple the performance for these newer iBooks in order to maximise operating time while on battery ;-)
Frankly I can not imagine them releasing an actually much faster iBook than what you have with PowerBooks today.
Altivec/ Rosetta support may well be the key for some apps, but there is much more than those professional tools still to be optimised for Intel chips....