Apple MacBook Air with Intel ThunderBolt, Sandy Bridge Coming in June: Report

Apple will reportedly introduce new MacBook Air notebooks in June or July with the main perks of its MacBook Pros: Intel's "Sandy Bridge" and ThunderBolt technologies.

Apple is planning to launch new versions of its super-light MacBook Air notebooks this summer, with two of the key features already included in its newest MacBook Pros: Intel's ThunderBolt port and Intel's second-generation core "Sandy Bridge" processors, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes.

According to the May 18 report, which cites supply-chain sources, shipments of new 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models are expected to begin moving in May, for release in June or July.

"Main supply-chain makers for the new models remain about the same as for the existing MacBook Air, with Quanta Computer solely responsible for assembly, Catcher Technology supplying casings, Auras Technology a main supplier of thermal modules, Shin Zu Shing supplying hinges, and Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying batteries, the sources pointed out," DigiTimes reported. "However, none of the makers have confirmed their participation in making new MacBook Airs."

The notoriously secretive Apple has not confirmed its plans for the devices or a timeframe, but since the MacBook Pro's February introduction, it has been expected that the next round of MacBook Airs would likewise receive the new features-and their perks.

The Sandy Bridge-running MacBook Pros are said to be twice as fast as their predecessors, while Intel's ThunderBolt technology, created in collaboration with Apple, runs at 10G bps and is reportedly 12 times faster than using a FireWire 800 connection. The input/output technology brings together PCI Express, for high-speed data transfer, and DisplayPort, for high-definition display support, on a single cable. According to Intel a user can, for example, transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds.

"We've taken the vision of simple, fast transfer of content between PCs and devices, and made it a reality," Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said in a February statement on the introduction of ThunderBolt.

Apple last introduced new MacBook Air notebooks on Oct. 20, 2010, along with FaceTime for Macs and OS X Lion. At just 2.3 pounds and 0.68 inches thick with the lid closed, the notebooks feature SSD (solid-state disk) storage technology, instead of hard drives.

"We've taken everything we've learned about miniaturization from the iPhone and iPad and applied it to the MacBook," Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the assembled audience at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Six months later, Apple appeared to offer the machines still another performance bump, transitioning from Toshiba SSDs to speedier Samsung-made SSDs, according to an April 15 report from AnandTech.

"The interesting aspect is that the SM128C models provide quite a nice performance bump in at least one performance metric," the tech site reported. "Benchmarks posted by users show that the SM128C manages up to 260MB per second read and 210MB per second write speeds. In our tests (and corroborating what users have reported), the TS128C only offers speeds of up to 210MB per second read and 185MB per second write. The SM128C also supports NCQ (Native Command Queuing) while the TS128C does not."

In April Sony announced that it would offer developer kits this quarter for the technology, a move that's expected to boost support for it. So far, Sony, LaCie and Canon are among the companies that have been public about plans to offer devices featuring the port.