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Intel Builds Bridge to Next - Generation Macs

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9/14/2012 8:51:40 AM

Intel has launched its much-anticipated Ivy Bridge processors. The arrival of the new chips is of particular interest to Mac users because they’re expected to be used in the next versions of the MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini. The initial crop of Ivy Bridge processors comprises quad-core i5 and i7 chipsets aimed at desktops and standard laptops. A further release, with dual-core processors for ultra-slim laptops like the MacBook Air, will be launched ‘later this spring’, according to Intel.

Description: Could a revamped MacBook Pro be the first Apple machine to incorporate Intel’s latest chips?

Could a revamped MacBook Pro be the first Apple machine to incorporate Intel’s latest chips?

Ivy Bridge features what Intel calls 3D Tri­Gate technology. This allows transistors to be stacked on top of each other, rather than laid out side by side. This is the world’s first 22 nanometre product and we’ll be delivering about 20% more processor performance us­ing 20% less average power,’ Kirk Skaugen, Intel’s PC business chief told the BBC, refer­ring to the semiconductor manufacturing process used to build the chips.

Ivy Bridge’s integrated graphics, likely to be used in the Mac mini, have also had a boost. The GPU can process 4K resolution video from the latest pro video cameras and can handle real-time I ID videoconferencing.

MacUser’s sister magazine PC Pro tested the desktop Ivy Bridge chips and found they oiTered modest performance improvements over their predecessors. However, noted reviewer David Bayon, ‘it isn’t hard to see that the triple whammy of greater speed, improved graphics and lower power con­sumption plays perfectly to the needs of [MacBook Air-style] ultrabooks, and that’s where Intel hopes it will make an impact.’

Ivy Bridge also has built-in support for USB 3, which makes it easier for systems manufacturers to include USB 3 buses and ports. Apple has yet to adopt USB 3, however, and it’s not thought it will make use of this feature. There’s also support for Apple’s cur­rent preferred I/O technology, Thunderbolt.

Skaugen said Intel would produce around 50% more Ivy Bridge chips than it did last year’s Sandy Bridge, but high demand meant supply would still be constrained.

Google Drive vies for the post-iDisk vibe

As we predicted last issue, Google has launched a general purpose cloud storage service, Google Drive. It pro­vides 5GB of free storage to Google account holders, and offers several features that integrate with those of Google’s existing services that Larry Page has yet to kill.

Description: Google Drive

Google Drive

Unlike Apple’s iCloud, which only stores preset types of media and is accessed from within apps or the browser, Google Drive can be used as a virtual folder on your Mac or PC desktop, like Dropbox, or accessed from within a Google account.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome and apps, explained: ‘Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations.’ Google Docs users can currently collaborate on documents by electing to share them with other users. It’s not clear yet how the ‘real time’ element of Docs in Google Drive will work.

Google+ users will be able to share photos they’ve stored on Google Drive by sending the URL of the image, and soon Google Mail users will be able to add Google Drive files as attach­ments to emails.

Scanned documents uploaded to Google Drive will be converted to text via OCR, and will be searchable. Google says it will also use image recognition technology to identify pictures, which might raise a few questions.

Google Drive is now available for the Mac, with an iOS version due to launch soon. See www.drive.google.com for details. We looked at other storage services that might be of interest to MobileMe users, whose iDisk stor­age will be terminated at the end of June, in MacUser, 27 April 2012, p63, available at bit.ly/mu2809.

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