Apple is notoriously reticent about providing information about upcoming products, but that doesn't stop the Apple faithful from speculating. The latest rumor making the rounds of Apple blogs predicts the next MacBook Pro notebook will move to solid-state drives.
Mark Reschke from the Three-Guys-And-A-Podcast blog wrote Nov. 24 that Apple will be launching the "all-new MacBook Pro" design with SSDs in April 2011. He correctly predicted the launch of a new MacBook Air in September.
The new design centers on the notebook's optical drives, or rather the lack of them. "The new MacBook Pros will move to solid state storage, up to 512GB, remove the optical drive, and we believe Light Peak is being pushed to make its first-ever entrance into the market, another Apple exclusive," Reschke wrote.
Intel's Light Peak is a high-speed optical cable technology designed to connect multiple electronic devices, including peripherals, displays and disk drives. While the Light Peak connectors will be smaller with cables that are longer, thinner and more flexible, the technology will be capable of transferring data at blazing speeds, starting at 10Gb per second, according to Intel.
Even though Light Peak is an Intel project, there is rampant speculation that Apple is collaborating with Intel on the technology. Many blogs are also claiming that it will be "an Apple exclusive when it first hits the market."
While Apple has never commented on its involvement with Light Peak, sources told CNET late last year, "Apple is an innovating force in the industry and makes requests that nobody else does, and that only helps innovation."
Apple CEO Steve Jobs also recently said, "We don't see USB 3 taking off this time." Many Apple watchers have taken this statement as additional evidence that the new Macs will get Light Peak next year.
Intel has said customers will have Light Peak components before the end of 2010 and that peripherals and PCs with Light Peak connectors will appear on the market in 2011. With Reschke's April prediction, the timing is not too far off for Light Peak to be in the MacBook Pro.
"We don't believe this will be a simple refresh of the MacBook Pro; rather, Apple will deliver an all-out redesign, the big brother of the MacBook air," Reschke wrote. This is in line with Jobs telling the crowd during the MacBook Air launch that they can expect similar things from all MacBook models in the future.
The MacBook Pro was last refreshed in April, with the addition of the Core i5 and i7 options. While SSDs have been available as options on the MacBook Pro line, the new redesign would mean a significant boost in processing power between the entry-level MacBook line and the high-end Pro machines. The predicted MacBook Pros will last longer, run quieter, and be lighter and more power-efficient because there will be next to no moving parts within the case.
There is also some speculation that dropping the internal DVD drive paves the way for Apple to come out with its own brand of external DVD player/burner with Light Peak to work with the MacBook Pro.
Reschke noted that Apple is likely to leave one legacy 15-inch design in the lineup for those not yet comfortable with the shift to solid-state drives and no optical drive. He speculated that the new MacBook Pros will start at $1,999 and scale up according to configuration.