Intel's Processor Roadmap Leaves Uncertainty for Apple's 2014 Mac Updates

mavericks_macsWith Apple's Mac lineup beginning to show signs of aging, consumers are no doubt starting to wonder when they can expect updated models to hit the market. Apple's product update cycles are in large part driven by availability of new processors, so it pays to take a look at Intel's roadmap to see what might be coming when to give Apple new options for upgrades.

The MacBook Air is currently the older of Apple's two current notebook lines (setting aside the non-Retina MacBook Pro that has been reduced to a single 13-inch model and hasn't been updated since June 2012). Apple's ultrathin notebook currently offers a choice of two low-power 15-watt Haswell chips to help achieve remarkable all-day battery life. Entry-level models include a 1.3 GHz i5-4250U chip, while higher-end models bump up to a 1.7 GHz i7-4650U processor. Both chips include Intel's "Iris 5000" integrated graphics that offers reasonable everyday performance in a power-efficient design.

According to an Intel roadmap leaked by VR-Zone [Google Translate], a successor to the current low-end chip is set to launch in the third quarter in the form of an i5-4260U Haswell refresh, presumably carrying just a small speed bump compared to the current chip. Another alternative for Apple could be the 1.4 GHz i5-4350U or its just-announced successor 1.5 GHz i5-4360U. The 4350U chip has been available since last year, but Apple elected not to use it in the current MacBook Air. The high-end MacBook Air situation is less clear, as leaked roadmaps have not yet shown a direct successor to the current i7-4650U chip.

intel_feb14_15w_roadmap

Intel roadmap for 15-watt chips appropriate for MacBook Air

One other potential wildcard for the MacBook Air is a series of rumors claiming that Apple is working on a 12-inch Retina notebook of some kind for the middle of this year. Rumors have suggested that this machine could replace the current MacBook Air line, in which case all bets would be off on which chips Apple would use for the new machine.

Moving on to the Retina MacBook Pro, it is worth examining the 13-inch and 15-inch models separately, given the distinct differences in chips used in the two models. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro currently offers three different processor options: a 2.4 GHz i5-4258U, a 2.6 GHz i5-4288U, and a 2.8 GHz i7-4558U. All three chips are shown on a separate roadmap slide leaked by VR-Zone, and they show limited potential for updates in the near future.

Many potential buyers are looking forward to the next big jump to Intel's next-generation Broadwell platform, but that launch has been delayed and the latest roadmap shows that Broadwell chips appropriate for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are not planned to launch until the first quarter of 2015, leaving questions about what upgrades Apple might be able to make in the interim. The roadmap hints that speed bumped versions of the current Haswell chips could appear in the fourth quarter but that appears to not be a certainty at this point and would only be a very short-term option heading into Broadwell.

intel_feb14_28w_roadmap

Intel roadmap for 28-watt chips appropriate for 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro also poses some questions, and the roadmap for those more powerful quad-core chips is not included in the most recent set of leaked slides. The 15-inch lineup currently offers three processor options: a 2.0 GHz i7-4750HQ, a 2.3 GHz i7-4850HQ, and a 2.6 GHz i7-4960HQ. Intel has in fact already announced a successor for the mid-range chip, a 2.4 GHz i7-4860HQ, with an i7-4760HQ upgrade for the low-end reportedly not arriving until the third quarter. The high-end chip remains in question, as we have not yet seen concrete signs of an upgraded version.

Intel is said to be accelerating its Haswell refresh launch in order to buffer against delays in Broadwell, with additional Haswell chips reportedly set to be announced within the next month or so. It is certainly possible that the company will announce chips that provide upgrade options for Apple as soon as the company's Worldwide Developers Conference likely scheduled for June, but specific information regarding a range of chips to fully satisfy Apple's needs remains limited.

As for Apple's desktops, the outlook is somewhat more clear at least in terms of the iMac. Intel's imminent Haswell refresh announcement is expected to include direct successors to most of the chips currently used in the iMac:

27-inch
- Current 3.2 GHz i5-4570 moves to 3.3 GHz i5-4590
- Current 3.4 GHz i5-4670 moves to 3.5 GHz i5-4690
- Current 3.5 GHz i7-4771 moves to 3.6 GHz i7-4790

21.5-inch
- Current 2.9 GHz i5-4570S moves to 3.0 GHz i5-4590S
- Current 3.1 GHz i5-4770S moves to 3.2 GHz i5-4790S

One exception is on the low-end 21.5-inch iMac, which currently uses a special i5-4570R chip enhanced with Intel's top-of-the-line Iris 5200 integrated graphics to allow that machine to forego a discrete graphics chip. We have yet to see confirmation of plans for Intel to launch a corresponding i5-4590R chip as part of the Haswell refresh.

The Mac mini remains a question mark for Apple, given that the line has not been updated since October 2012. Past history has seen chips from the 13-inch MacBook Pro making their way into the Mac mini a few months later, but that has not yet occurred despite the current Retina MacBook Pro having been introduced four months ago. Such a move could come at any time, and a placeholder at a Belgian retailer last month suggested that an updated Mac mini was due by the end of February, but such indicators are frequently unreliable.

Finally, while many early Mac Pro customers are still awaiting their orders and new orders are not shipping until April, there undoubtedly some customers looking ahead to the next-generation Mac Pro. These machines will likely use upcoming Haswell-E Xeon E5 chips, and few details beyond a release target of the second half of 2014 have surfaced so far.

So in summary, delays in Intel's Broadwell platform are causing uncertainties in the outlook for Apple's notebook lineup, with interim Haswell refresh chips trickling out over the remainder of 2014 to provide some possible upgrade paths for Apple. But the scattered schedule of chip upgrades leaves it unclear as to when each model line will have the appropriate chips available for Apple to release updated machines. Apple's desktop lineup is a bit more solid with a good set of speed-bumped chips for the iMac arriving in time for an update around mid-year if Apple so chooses, while the Mac mini will likely maintain tradition and launch with mobile chips at any time now unless Apple has more substantial changes in the store for the small desktop machine. Regardless, for most of Apple's lineup the 2014 chip updates will be fairly minor until Broadwell is ready to go late this year or early next year.

Top Rated Comments

Hastings101 Avatar
99 months ago
Obviously it's time to switch to PowerPC, Intel is no longer meeting Apple's needs :p
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Razeus Avatar
99 months ago
If Apple does another CPU chip change to their own ARM, I'm going to be pissed. :mad:

But then again, so we really need faster chips at this point for the average Facebook, email, & Spotify consumer? Nope. We need more optimized software.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdelvecchio Avatar
99 months ago
apple is sad...just sad...
apple should have a big update for each year rather than minor spec bump.

Maybe need to focus more on MP.

you dont seem to understand how the industry works. if you use a supplier's parts (Intel chips) you're dependent on Intel's schedule.

further, if youre expecting mature product categories to be re-invented annually, you are set for a lifetime of disappointment. have fun w/ that.

meanwhile, im using my tools and am very happy w/ them. my last imac lasted 6 years before i gave it away.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crosscreek Avatar
99 months ago
No love for the Mini and where are the new Displays? :mad:
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KylePowers Avatar
99 months ago
'tis quite strange we've yet to see the Mac Mini make the jump to Haswell.

But as someone who recently got a late 2013 rMBP, I'm eagerly awaiting a Thunderbolt Display refresh. An iMac-like profile, reduced glare, Thunderbolt 2.0, and USB 3.0 would sure be delicious!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
teknikal90 Avatar
99 months ago
If Apple does another CPU chip change to their own ARM, I'm going to be pissed. :mad:

But then again, so we really need faster chips at this point for the average Facebook, email, & Spotify consumer? Nope. We need more optimized software.
+1 I've been watching house of cards...and honestly, the experience is so much better on my iPad than my macbook pro. despite the macbook pro having a quad core i7 vs. the A6x chip on the ipad
the macbook pro gets hot on my lap, runs out of battery much quicker and takes more steps to do what i want it to do.

the iPad is quickly becoming my main computer.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

calculatorapp

iOS 11 Bug: Typing 1+2+3 Quickly in the Calculator App Won't Get You 6

Tuesday October 24, 2017 2:03 pm PDT by
A bug in the built-in Calculator app in iOS 11 is getting some major attention this week, despite the fact that it's been around since iOS 11 was in beta testing. At issue is a calculator animation that causes some symbols to be ignored when calculations are entered in rapid succession. You can try it for yourself: Type 1+2+3 and then the equals sign into the Calculator app quickly. Due to...
gradiente iphone white

Brazilian Electronics Company Revives Long-Running iPhone Trademark Dispute

Tuesday May 19, 2020 1:06 pm PDT by
Apple has been involved in a long-running iPhone trademark dispute in Brazil, which was revived today by IGB Electronica, a Brazilian consumer electronics company that originally registered the "iPhone" name in 2000. IGB Electronica fought a multi-year battle with Apple in an attempt to get exclusive rights to the "iPhone" trademark, but ultimately lost, and now the case has been brought to...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last October in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
omg lightning cable comparison

Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable With Hidden Chip to Steal Passwords

Thursday September 2, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
A normal-looking Lightning cable that can used to steal data like passwords and send it to a hacker has been developed, Vice reports. The "OMG Cable" compared to Apple's Lightning to USB cable. The "OMG Cable" works exactly like a normal Lightning to USB cable and can log keystrokes from connected Mac keyboards, iPads, and iPhones, and then send this data to a bad actor who could be over a...
macbook air deals

Deals: Amazon Drops Price of 256GB M1 MacBook Air to New Low of $849.99 ($149 Off)

Friday August 27, 2021 6:16 am PDT by
Amazon today introduced new low prices on the M1 MacBook Air for both 256GB and 512GB storage options. To start, you can get the 256GB model for $849.99, down from an original price of $999.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Only Silver and Gold are...
maxresdefault

New MacBook Pro Models Coming at WWDC, Suggests Leaker

Monday May 24, 2021 1:27 pm PDT by
New MacBook Pro models are coming at WWDC, according to leaker Jon Prosser who has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting Apple's plans. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Prosser provided no additional information, but there are new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in the works. The new MacBook Pros will feature the most radical redesign to the MacBook Pro ...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...