The 'Book Review

Apple Hires AMD Chip Engineer, 100W USB Coming, SSDs for 2012 MacBook Air, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.07.27

Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion went on sale this week. For more on that and some early reviews, see this week's Mac News Review.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

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News & Opinion

Apple Hires Former AMD Engineer John Bruno

Forbes' Brian Caulfield reports that John Bruno, a key member of a team of Advanced Micro Devices engineers who helped create the Fusion line of chips and nearly got AMD silicon inside Apple's MacBook Air has landed a job at Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile. Caulfield suggests that if you're AMD or Intel, that could be very bad news, what with the two dominant processor makers beleaguered by a stagnating market for personal computers built around their products while sales of smartphones and tablets (built around power-sipping SOCs designed by Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Nvidia) are booming.

Bruno left AMD in May 2011 and joined Apple as a system architect in July, and Caulfield cites former AMD colleagues saying he could be natural fit for Apple's processor team, noting that Apple has scooped up other key AMD engineers, including Bob Drebin, chief technology officer for AMD's graphics group.

USB That Provides 100 Watts Coming

The Register's Simon Sharwood reports that the USB Promoter Group has a new ambition: Using the ubiquitous connectivity standard to power your laptop while saving the planet, eliminating the need for proprietary power bricks along the way.

The general idea, as outlined in the newly-completed USB Power Delivery Specification (PDF), is to deliver up to 100 watts over USB to charge notebook PCs and power external hard-disk drives, devices which previously did not receive adequate power from traditional 5V USB bus power.

Sharwood notes that a shortcoming in this one-cable-to-rule-them-all vision is a requirement for USB Power Delivery certified cables, which devices will detect as capable of handling the higher voltage. Old USB cables will still work and won't melt, but they won't carry the extra current.

100W in a USB Port?

Hardmac's Lionel reports that the USB Forum has unveiled an update to the current USB 2.0 and 3.0 format, the USB power delivery goal to be able to deliver up to 100W using the USB port, which will require the addition of two pins and make it possible for the computer to deliver bus power to more power-demanding peripherals such as external 3.5" hard drives. However, Lionel notes that since 100W is more than enough for powering such external units, the goal behind this new format is also to have a bidirectional powering system, i.e.: making it possible to recharge a mobile computer's battery by simply plugging it into a powered peripheral, such as an external hard drive or, even smarter, an external display.

Rumor Roundup

September Release Predicted for 13" Retina MacBook Pro and New iMac

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a pretty good track record the past couple of years predicting Apple product releases and developments, writes in a forecast note to investors for the second half of 2012 on Tuesday reported by AppleInsider and others that he expects Apple to unveil a 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display in September, possibly accompanied by an iMac refresh, although demand may outstrip supply due to limited production capacity and assembly yield rates for Retina panels.

Mr. Kuo projects that the new laptop's price should be "somewhat similar" to that of Apple's current non-Retina 13" MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,199.

Editor's note: If that is the case, your editor is of a mind that Apple will be able to sell as many as it can build for quite some time, although Mr. Kuo thinks that after an initial spike, sales growth will be bled off by ongoing gravitation toward iOS devices, particularly if Apple releases an iPad mini in September. Mr. Kuo projects 1.8 million iPad mini sales in the balance of the calendar third quarter after release, and as high as 13 million in Q4/2012. cm

Pubilsher's note: And what of the Mac mini? dk


Best Mac Pro GPUs Outperform 2012 Retina MacBook Pro Graphics

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan says:

"The frustration of Mac Pro owners for the lack of new and better GPUs has given rise to a movement to buy 'Windows only' GPUs and flash them with 'OS X compatible' code. MacVidCards sent us some samples to try. We decided to show how these 'alternative' GPUs compare to conventional OS X compatible GPUs when running OpenGL based games and benchmarks.

"We were also curious how the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro stacked up against the best Mac Pro GPUs. We chose 1440 x 900 resolution, since that's the factory default for the Retina MacBook Pro. And we tested at 2560 x 1440 resolution, the native resolution for the Apple 27" LED backlit Cinema and Thunderbolt display...."

How did the Retina MacBook Pro do? Morgan says it's the fastest laptop GPU that Apple has ever offered, but it isn't on par with top Mac Pro GPUs.

Products & Services

OWC Mercury Aura Pro: First Available High Performance Solid State Drive for 2012 MacBook Air

PR: OWC NewsFeed says Other World Computing announced Thursday that the OWC Mercury Aura Pro, as the industry's first high-performance Solid State Drive upgrade for 2012 MacBook Air computers, will be available in four capacities: 120 GB, 180 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB, starting at $167.99. The Mercury Aura Pro utilizes award-winning SandForce technologies and Tier 1 Synchronous NAND to deliver sustained data rates over 500 MB/s.

OWC Mercury Aura Pro and 2012 MacBook air

Provides Future Upgrade Path

The Mercury Aura Pro also offers owners of and those interested in the 2012 MacBook Air models the ability to upgrade the SSD when they need more storage and backup capacity. This flexibility is especially important for owners of the base model 11 MacBook Air equipped with the Apple's minuscule 64 GB SSD and the base 13 model with its 128 GB capacity SSD. MacBook Air owners can now add up to 8x more capacity with a 480 GB Mercury Aura Pro SSD.

The Cost Difference Is Substantial

Adding Apple's $800 factory 512 GB (500 GB usable space) SSD option to the $1099 128 GB MacBook Air model bumps its price to $1899 and the owner doesn't get to keep a pulled 128 GB flash module.

Adding OWC's $644.99 480 GB Mercury Aura Pro to the $999 64 GB MacBook Air model brings the cost to $1643.99 and the pulled 64 GB factory flash module can be repurposed as an external drive with OWC's Envoy USB 3.0 bus-powered enclosure that is projected to be available before the end of 2012.

The new OWC Mercury Aura Pro is compatible with all 11 and 13 2012 MacBook Air models:

  • 120 GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty - $167.99
  • 180 GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty - $224.99
  • 240 GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty - $319.99
  • 480 GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty - $644.99

The Mercury Aura Pro is available immediately in the 240 GB capacity; while the 120, 180, and 480 GB models can be pre-ordered with shipping expected on/around August 6. All Mercury Aura Pro SSDs come complete with all required installation tools and instructions claimed to make this an easy DIY upgrade.

OWC Mercury Pro brand SSDs feature ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy long term usage of the drive and without dependency on less than effective OS TRIM management.

Up to 100x Greater Data Protection

Utilizing SandForce DuraClass technology, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro is able to provide up to 100x higher data protection than ordinary SSDs as well as leading enterprise-class hard disk drives. By combining the highest level of Error Correction Code (ECC) and SandForce RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology along with 7% over provisioning, the Mercury Aura Pro provides RAID-like data protection and reliability without loss of transfer speed due to parity.

"OWC was the first independent manufacturer of SSD upgrades for the MacBook Air and we're pleased to once again be the first and only upgrade option for the new 2012 machines," says Larry O'Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. "Beyond being the only upgrade available, the Mercury Aura Pro SSD carries on the OWC tradition of offering best in class performance with significant cost savings compared to similar capacity factory options."

Elegant Cashmere Leather Protective Sleeve for 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display

PR: Netherlands-based Mujjo, which has designed many protective sleeve and accessories products for iOS devices, has officially released its first protective cover designed for 15" MacBook Pro (Retina screen). Mujjo MacBook Pro Retina sleeveDue to popular demand and lots of requests for a good looking MacBook Pro Retina sleeve, they've decided to run limited production of an addition to their Originals collection, the limited edition 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina sleeve.

"We're not the first this with a 15-inch Retina screen MacBook Pro design protective sleeve," says Mujjo founder Remy Nagelmaeker, "but when we received a lot of customers complaining that they could not find a favorite protective cover for this notebook, we have decided to help our customers and design a unique and elegant protective sleeve. We've launched this limited edition production of this protective cover for the-15 inch Retina screen laptop."

This protection is limited, but Mujjo does not preclude the expansion of production capacity if the customer demand warrants. "We insist on doing a limited edition," Nagelmaeker says. "In future, we may release a new design demand continues to rise."

"This protective sleeve cut is made by hand," said Nagelmaeker. "Our design team is led by a group of fashion designers with extensive experience. Throughout the design process we have been trying different styles, done again and again in different samples by using different materials and different techniques, and finally reach a design we like suited to the design concept of the product.

Dutch Craftsmanship

This snug tailored sleeve combines minimalism with long lasting elegant accents. Separate yourself from the masses by showing you know exactly what you're talking about when it comes to style and the appreciation of high quality materials. Crafted by hand, this sleeve is made especially to fit the formidable 15.4" Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Smart Couture

An outstanding blend of fashion and high functionality. The leather flap, with one button on the right, provides a simple closure and keeps your device secure. The snap and rivets are lined to keep your MacBook from touching anything but soft, thick wool felt. The smart storage compartment allows you to store documents, earplugs and more!

High Quality, Sustainable Materials

A unique combination of 100% wool felt and high quality leather. Wool felt is a sustainable and renewable material, offering strength while remaining a soft touch. The flap is made out of high quality top-grain 100% vegetable-tanned leather and is hand-dyed using environmentally friendly dyes. The felt can easily be cleaned; a special treatment provides excellent anti-peeling properties and makes the sleeve water repellent.

From Holland with Love

The Originals collection is the company's core, made for all lovers of Mujjo and fans of Dutch Craftsmanship that understand and embrace the value of hand stitched couture for their beloved gadgets.

Euro 64.95

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

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