Apple could be preparing for an imminent refresh of the MacBook Pro line-up, according to a new rumor from Apple Insider. The refresh would apparently focus upon the processors found inside the MacBook Pro line-up, updating them to the latest Sandy Bridge processors with moderate speed bumps. Intel has just released new core i7 processors suitable for the MacBook Pro line which would deliver impressive performance increases.
The MacBook Pro was last updated in February 2011 when Apple released a spec-bumped update to their Pro line. The updates included the new high speed Thunderbolt port as well as new Sandy Bridge processors. While the current rumor suggests that this would be the only change made to the MacBook Pro this year, MacRumors has also reported that an entirely new case design may make an appearance, which is contrary to information contained in the article. With new Intel Ivy Bridge processors due in the first half of 2012, it’s unclear if Apple would choose to deliver a case design update at that point.
What is interesting is that Apple is also apparently preparing a new ultra-thin 15 inch notebook which may or may not be a MacBook Pro. The rumor was reported by both MacRumors and TUAW and it was suggested that the new model would be released in time for the Christmas shopping period. It’s unclear yet if this will actually materialise, but given the popularity of the MacBook Air, Apple will likely be looking to capitalise on this with their new MacBook Pro models.
While ultra-thin notebooks are certainly desirable, one of the biggest changes that Apple may have to make to the MacBook Pro to dramatically reduce the size and weight could potentially be the switch to SSD storage versus using hard drives. This could potentially be an unpopular move because of issues with the cost of supplying large storage capacity SSD chips that would go some way to match the current storage capacity of the hard drive based MacBook Pro line-up.
One solution to the storage issue could be through the use of iCloud. If Apple were to include or pair a premium iCloud subscription with around 20-50 GB of storage with the purchase of each SSD MacBook Pro, this could go a long way towards enticing users who require more storage than SSD can offer. As far as we know, nothing like this is planned but pairing up the newly minted iCloud service with small SSD devices at purchase could be an interesting plan for Apple.