Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:03 am PST by Joe Rossignol
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a low-travel keyboard design with Force Touch-like sensors that measure the pressure placed on a key when a user presses or rests a finger on it.
As summarized by AppleInsider, the exhaustive patent filing details how the keyboard would have a switch-less QWERTY input mechanism, rather than mechanical switches, allowing for less key travel and potentially thinner Mac keyboards.
Apple's current MacBook and Mac accessory lineups employ modified scissor switches, or butterfly switches on the 12-inch Retina MacBook, nestled within hollow key caps. Today's patent mirrors the aesthetic of existing designs, but deviates from established technology by replacing mechanical switches for a stack of sensors, actuators and supporting circuitry.
Theoretically the system operates akin to Apple's Force Touch trackpads, but on a much larger scale; one force sensor package for each keyboard key. Force sensors configured to measure downward pressure are integrated beneath the keyboard's key caps, while integrated actuators — part of the key stack — generate haptic feedback.
The patent filing does not guarantee that Apple will release a Force Touch keyboard, but a pressure-sensitive keyboard is plausible alongside the Magic Trackpad and Force Touch trackpads on MacBooks.
Apple's new Retina MacBook has been criticized by some over its all-new butterfly mechanism keyboard, which has low key travel, so whether Apple implements this new keyboard design into the rest of its MacBook lineup remains to be seen.
Apple was granted U.S. Patent No. 9,178,509, and credits Jeffrey T. Bernstein as its inventor.
Tuesday September 1, 2015 11:35 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Intel has released detailed information about its upcoming Skylake processors for notebooks and desktops ahead of IFA 2015 in Berlin (via Ars Technica). The sixth-generation chips will deliver CPU and GPU performance improvements and longer battery life, and are likely to power future MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac models released over the next year.
Intel's new lineup of Core M processors appropriate for the 12-inch Retina MacBook will provide up to 10 hours of battery life, between 10%-20% faster CPU performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to equivalent Broadwell chips.
CPU World accurately shared Core m3, Core m5 and Core m7 specifications last week, with all three families of chips including Intel HD 515 graphics, 4MB of L3 cache and 4.5 watt thermal design power (TDP).
The low-end Core m3 6Y30 replaces the Core M-5Y31 and is likely suited for the base model 12-inch MacBook sold for $1,299. The mid-tier Core m5 6Y54 and Core m5 6Y57 replace the Core M-5Y51 on the high-end 12-inch MacBook sold for $1,599, while the high-end Core m7 6Y75 replaces the Core M-5Y71 for top-of-the-line 12-inch MacBook custom configurations.
Core M processors have configurable TDPs, allowing for performance and heat output to be adjusted. Core m3, m5 and m7 chips can be run at 3.5-3.8 watts or be increased to 7 watts to allow for higher CPU clock speeds. For the current 12-inch MacBook, Apple boosted the 900 MHz 5Y31 chip to 1.1 GHz, 1.1 GHz 5Y51 chip to 1.2 GHz and 1.2 GHz 5Y71 chip to 1.3 GHz.
Ars Technica notes that Core M processors should be available to Apple and other PC makers now, meaning that Core m3, m5 and m7-powered notebooks could begin shipping within the next few months. However, given that the 12-inch MacBook just launched in April, it remains uncertain if Apple is willing to release updated models this soon or hold off until 2016.
Wednesday July 29, 2015 9:27 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has released a FaceTime Camera Driver Update for all 2015 MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks that improves FaceTime camera compatibility with Windows. Apple recommends that all Boot Camp users install the software update (1.4MB) from the Apple Support website.
The software update was released for the following notebooks:
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
Languages supported include English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Korean, Chinese (Traditional) and Chinese (Simplified).
Less than two weeks before Intel announces new desktop Skylake processors, likely to be used in future Macs, at the Gamescom trade show in Germany on August 5, FanlessTech has leaked an Intel slide deck that offers a closer look at some of the performance enhancements the next-generation processors will deliver for both desktop computers and notebooks.
The leaked slides reveal that Skylake processors will provide a 10%-20% CPU performance boost in single and multi-threaded applications, with lower power consumption, and 30% faster Intel HD integrated graphics performance on average compared to current-generation Broadwell processors. The improved energy efficiency will also result in up to 30% longer battery life.
The specific performance improvements to the four main Skylake families are outlined below based on preliminary data, with the MacBook model appropriate for each chip listed in parentheses:
- Y-Series (MacBook): Up to 17% faster CPU, up to 41% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- U-Series (MacBook Air): Up to 10% faster CPU, up to 34% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- H-Series (MacBook Pro): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 16% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 80% lower silicon power
- S-Series (iMac): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 28% faster Intel HD graphics, 22% lower TDP (thermal design power)
Given that Intel announced a trio of Core i7 processors appropriate for the 15" Retina MacBook Pro just weeks later, and both the iMac and Mac mini still have Haswell processors, it is plausible that Apple has chosen to skip Broadwell processors entirely and release Skylake-based Macs in late 2015 or early 2016 -- and the jump from Haswell to Skylake would deliver an even higher performance boost.
Taiwanese blog DigiTimes, which has a hit-and-miss track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, says that Intel is planning to launch 18 new Skylake processors for notebooks in the fourth quarter, starting in October. The mid-range and high-end processors could be used in the next-generation 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro.
Intel today at Computex 2015 announced its next-generation lineup of quad-core Broadwell processors for notebooks and desktop computers, including a trio of Core i7 processors appropriate for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro: i7-5950HQ, i7-5850HQ and i7-5750HQ. The new processors have base frequencies of between 2.5 GHz and 2.9 GHz and feature integrated Intel Iris Pro 6200 graphics.
The fifth-generation Broadwell chips are expected to be available in the next 30-60 days, meaning the first notebooks and desktop computers with the new processors should be available in July or August.
Interestingly, Apple refreshed the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro just last month, but noticeably missing were processor upgrades, as the new machines continue to use the same Haswell processors from the previous generation. While appropriate Broadwell chips will soon be available over the next few months, it is possible that Apple did not want to wait that long to refresh the notebook.
It is also possible that Apple will skip fifth-generation Broadwell processors entirely for the MacBook Pro and release Skylake-based notebooks as early as later this year. Intel also announced the future availability of Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C, and USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2 support, and the new spec would be suitable for inclusion in the next refresh to the Mac lineup.
Thursday May 28, 2015 9:38 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has updated a support document on its website to reflect that the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, equipped with AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics, is capable of driving Dell's dual-cable UP2715K 27-inch 5K display. Apple initially released OS X 10.10.3 in April with support for the dual-cable 5K monitor on the Retina 5K iMac and 2013 Mac Pro, but no notebooks supported the display at the time.
Some displays with resolutions higher than 4K require two DisplayPort cables to connect the display at full resolution. With OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 or later, the Dell UP2715K 27-inch 5K display is supported on the following Mac computers:
Mac Pro (Late 2013)
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014 and later)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) with AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Dell's dual-cable 5K display requires more bandwidth than is currently supported over a current single DisplayPort cable, so it uses a dual-cable solution that takes up two Thunderbolt ports on a Mac. The availability of Intel's Skylake platform with DisplayPort 1.3 support later this year will enable Apple to update Macs with support for external 5K displays that function over a single cable, at which point the company could theoretically release a 5K Thunderbolt Display.
The support document also lists the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro as capable of driving most single-stream 4K displays (4,096-by-2,160) at 60Hz on OS X 10.10.3, becoming the first notebook to support single-stream 4K displays alongside the Mac Pro (Late 2013) and iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014 and later).
Apple initially listed the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon graphics as capable of supporting an ultra-wide display with up to 5,120-by-2,160 resolution at 60Hz, but has since updated the notebook's technical specifications to reflect its ability to drive a single external display at up to 5,120-by-2,880 resolution at 60Hz.
Apple's new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, unveiled on Tuesday, didn't include a processor upgrade due to Broadwell delays, but it did get a Force Touch trackpad and one other major improvement -- new PCIe-based flash storage that Apple says is 2.5 times faster than the flash storage in previous-generation machines, with throughput up to 2GB/s.
In benchmark testing conducted by French site MacGeneration [Google Translate], the entry-level 2.2GHz 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage lived up to Apple's claims, demonstrating impressive read/write speeds that topped out at 2GB/s and 1.25GB/s, respectively, in QuickBench 4.0.
Those read/write speeds far exceed the read/write speeds achieved by the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Air, which also received faster flash storage that doubles the speeds available in previous-generation 13-inch MacBook Air machines. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro's performance is similar to the 13-inch MacBook Air.
At speeds that reach 2GB/s throughput, the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro has the fastest storage of any of Apple's notebooks. It took 14 seconds to transfer an 8.76GB file to the machine, compared to 32 seconds for the slower Retina MacBook. With small files, read/write speeds exceed a gigabyte per second.
Like the 2015 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air, the revamped 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro uses a solid state drive manufactured by Samsung. As noted by MacGeneration, it does not use the faster NVM Express SSD protocol that the 13-inch model was updated to, suggesting future machines could see even greater performance improvements with a swap to the next-generation protocol and with continued leaps in SSD technology.
Apple's 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available from the online Apple Store at prices that start at $1,999. The notebooks continue to use Haswell processors, but should see performance boosts due to the faster solid state drives.
Tuesday May 19, 2015 6:49 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Apple today announced updates to its 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display lineup and a new $1,999 configuration of the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, confirming a recent rumor that said new models of the computers would be released as early as Wednesday. The refreshed MacBook Pro and iMac models are available through the Apple Store, Apple Online Store and authorized resellers beginning today.
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro gained all the expected updates similar to its 13-inch sibling: a Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and better graphics. The new MacBook Pro comes in 2.2GHz and 2.5GHz configurations for $1,999 and $2,499 respectively. Both configurations come with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB memory, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics cards, with the higher-end 2.5GHz model gaining expected boosts in flash storage and memory.
Given that the necessary Broadwell chips are not yet available, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac still have Intel's fourth-generation Haswell processors. Based on the average product cycle for the MacBook Pro and iMac, Apple may choose to skip Broadwell processors and use next-generation Skylake processors for the next versions of the notebook and all-in-one desktop computer respectively. Those models are unlikely to be released until late 2015 at the earliest.
“The response to the new MacBook and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has been amazing, and today we are thrilled to bring the new Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage and longer battery life to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Customers love the groundbreaking iMac with Retina 5K display, and now with a new lower starting price, even more people can experience the best desktop we’ve ever made.”
The iMac line that received an update today was a new $1,999 configuration of the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display. The new model is a 3.3GHz configuration with a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 1TB hard drive. Both the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac are available to purchase right now from Apple's online store, with most of the models sitting at an estimated shipping time of between 1 and 3 business days as of announcement time.
Monday May 18, 2015 6:33 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Apple fans waiting for updates to the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac may get good news sooner than expected, with MacG.co [Google Translate] reporting on Monday that updates to both models are expected as soon as this Wednesday.
The website cites an unnamed source who has provided accurate information on a number of occasions in the past, but provides no further details regarding the exact specs and upgrades that could go into the two new computers. Given that the 13-inch MacBook Pro was updated back in March with the expected processing and graphics boosts, as well as a new Force Touch trackpad, it's safe to say the new 15-inch model should receive similar upgrades.
As MacG.co points out and we have discussed in recent days, shipping times for the 15-inch MacBook Pro have been slipping, sparking speculation of a WWDC reveal for updated models.
It is unclear exactly what processors will be included in the new MacBook Pro, as Intel's timeline for Broadwell chips had previously estimated a July-August release for chips appropriate for the machine. Intel did, however, quietly launch a few higher-end chips in the Broadwell family two weeks ago, suggesting production may in fact be ahead of schedule.
The site doesn't touch much on the iMac update, beyond pointing out that the only model with a delayed shipping estimate is the higher-end non-retina 27-inch iMac with a 3.4 GHz processor. We noted slipping shipping estimates on iMacs a month ago, but while most of the models returned to "in stock" status shortly after, it now appears Apple has indeed been drawing down stock ahead of this week's update.
Delayed shipping times in the weeks ahead of a major event like WWDC generally appear as good indicators of what product categories may be getting an update, but given recent updates to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, the release of the new MacBook, and the pending 15-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac updates, Apple could once again have a software-focused WWDC keynote similar to last year unless it decides to show off an update to the Mac Pro.
With the Worldwide Developers Conference coming up in early June, there's been some question about whether we might see a new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at the event. Shipping estimates for the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro have recently increased to two to three weeks, perhaps suggesting Apple is tapering down production on the existing model.
Supply shortages can sometimes signal an imminent update, but there's uncertainty when it comes to a potential 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro refresh due to a distinct lack of Broadwell chips appropriate for the machine. For several months, we've had no updates on the release date of Broadwell chips that would be used in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, making it difficult to pin down an upgrade timeline.
Along with slipping shipping estimates, however, we have another potential piece of evidence pointing towards the possibility of a June refresh -- a MacRumors reader who ordered a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro has received a delayed delivery date ranging from June 9 to June 15. June 9 is one day after the kick off of the Worldwide Developers Conference and the day after the event keynote where any new product would be introduced.
The Retina MacBook Pro in question is a custom configured 15-inch model with a 2.8Ghz processor and 512GB of storage, originally ordered on April 23. At the time, it had a two to three week delivery estimate, suggesting it should have arrived in May, but Apple's pushed it back to seven weeks.
A single customer's order set to arrive on June 9 just after the WWDC keynote is curious and may suggest Apple's waiting until a refresh to ship his order, but there's also a chance that it's a mere coincidence. It's entirely possible we won't see updated 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models for several more months.
We last heard Broadwell chips for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro were coming in July or August, making a WWDC refresh unlikely, but a handful of desktop-class chips in the same family began shipping two weeks ago, suggesting Intel might be ahead of schedule.
If Intel is ready to ship the chips or if Apple has already quietly received shipments ahead of a wider release, there's a chance we'll see a Retina MacBook Pro update at WWDC. If the chips are not shipping out until July or August, a WWDC refresh or update announcement is not likely.
As we said in a deeper post covering potential chip upgrades for the Retina MacBook Pro and the iMac, Intel's Broadwell chip delays and Broadwell's convergence with Skylake chip release dates have made it difficult to divine accurate update timelines for these machines.
For the past several weeks, high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro shipping times have been quietly slipping, first to one to two weeks and then to two to three weeks, sparking questions from MacRumors readers about whether a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro update is imminent.
While it's true we're approaching the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, where Apple often announces new products, Broadwell chip availability remains an issue that makes it unclear whether we might get a refresh announcement at the event.
We have heard no word on the status of Broadwell chips appropriate for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for several months. The last update on the chips came from a roadmap released in the summer of 2014, which suggested Broadwell chips appropriate for the notebook would be released in July or August of 2015.
In recent weeks, Intel has started shipping a small handful of desktop Broadwell chips, but chips that would be used in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro and the iMac are not yet shipping out.
The desktop-class Broadwell chips that are currently shipping were also given prospective July/August 2015 release timelines, so their arrival does potentially herald the imminent release of Broadwell chips that would succeed the existing Crystalwell chips in the 2014 Retina MacBook Pro. If these chips are going to ship out earlier than the prospective July/August timeline, it's possible Apple could make a Retina MacBook Pro update announcement at WWDC.
If the chips are not shipping until July or August of 2015, however, WWDC seems a bit premature for an announcement of a minor chip refresh that would not ship for several months, making a WWDC debut unlikely.
It's possible the shipping delays on the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro are due to resource reallocation rather than an imminent refresh. Apple's suppliers that produce the Retina MacBook Pro are also responsible for assembling the Apple Watch and the MacBook, so the delays that we're seeing may be a combination of workers being rerouted to work on more pressing products and low demand for the high-end Retina MacBook Pro.
It's worth noting that the high-end iMac is also seeing similar delays, with a shipping estimate of one to two weeks. The high-end iMac is in the same situation as the Retina MacBook Pro -- chips appropriate for an update are not yet available. Furthermore, chip roadmaps call into question whether there will be Broadwell chips available for Apple's non-Retina 27-inch iMacs at all.
Given the significant delays with Broadwell chips, their release timelines merge with the release timelines of Intel's next-generation Skylake chips and an investigation into Intel's release plans suggests that the company may jump directly to releasing Skylake chips in the third-quarter of 2015, bypassing Broadwell chips for certain machines all together.
As an example, the successor to the Core i5-4670 chip used in the low-end 27-inch iMac is the Core i5-4690 used in the low-end 27-inch Retina iMac, and the successor to that chip appears to be the Skylake Core i5-6600, suggesting a potential refresh for the non-Retina iMac might use that Skylake chip rather than the older Broadwell chip. Any upgrades to the 27-inch Retina iMac will also use Skylake chips rather than Broadwell chips.
Processor upgrades for the 21-inch iMac are a bit murkier as the chips used in those machines have no Skylake equivalents at this point in time, so it's tougher to speculate about potential chip successors Apple could use. It's also worth noting that the close proximity of Skylake and Broadwell chip releases could see Apple waiting for Skylake chips not only for the iMac, but also for the Retina MacBook Pro.
The major takeaway from the increased iMac and Retina MacBook Pro shipping estimates is that the Broadwell delays have thrown Apple's upgrade cycle into disarray, making it difficult to determine when we might see an update due to all the variables involved. If Apple chooses to go with a minor Broadwell update for the high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro and those chips ship soon, we could very well see an announcement at WWDC.
If, however, those chips are not ready or if Apple should choose to forego Broadwell in favor of Skylake for a more substantial update, it's unlikely we'll see a WWDC refresh announcement for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. iMac updates are even more difficult to pin down, but it seems unlikely a refresh is imminent.
Sunday April 19, 2015 7:02 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
iMac shipping estimates have slipped to 3-5 business days on the Apple Online Store in the United States for all models aside from the entry-level 21.5-inch option with a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. The high-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is also now showing an estimated shipping date of 1-2 weeks. Both the iMac and 15" Retina MacBook Pro were previously listed as in stock.
The majority of the iMac lineup, excluding the low-end 21.5-inch iMac released in June 2014 and iMac with Retina 5K Display launched in October 2014, was last updated in September 2013 with the latest Intel Haswell processors, faster PCI Express-based flash storage options and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Based on its average product cycle, the all-in-one desktop computer is long overdue for a refresh.
Nevertheless, the iMac is not expected to be updated until Intel releases desktop class Broadwell chips during the second quarter of 2015. Intel's first 14nm desktop processors, including the Core i5-5675C, i7-5775C, i5-5575R, i5-5675R and i7-5775R CPUs with Iris Pro 6200 integrated graphics, are expected to be announced during Computex Taiwan in early June, with some chips expected to launch in mid-May, and should become readily available as early as July or August.
Intel's Broadwell desktop chips based on 14nm manufacturing process (via CPU World)
Ultimately, the extended iMac shipping estimates of 3-5 business days could be nothing more than regular stock fluctuations on the Apple Online Store, although it is worth noting as the release of Broadwell desktop chips approaches. At this point, it remains more likely that refreshed iMacs will be announced at WWDC 2015 at the earliest, but Apple's plans could change based on Intel's release timeline.
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