A report at VR-Zone has the details on Intel's next generation Core i7 and Core i5 processors. As the successor to Sandy Bridge, these Ivy Bridge processors will likely land in the 2012 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Looking closely at the CPU specs, we can get a sneak peek at Apple's future notebook refresh.
Intel will boost the processor speeds across its Core i5 and i7 lineup. The quad-core Core i7 models will start at 2.6 GHz and top out at 2.9 GHz, a step up from the 2.2 GHz to 2.5 GHZ quad-core Core i7 found in the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro models. There's also a new dual-core Core i7 CPU running at 2.9 GHz, which is a small bump from the 2.8 GHz dual-core Core i7 found in the 13-inch MBP.
There will be new dual-core Core i5 CPUs clocked at 2.8 and 2.6 GHz. This will be a nice bump from the 2.4 GHz Core i5 found in the base 13-inch MBP. All dual-core models will now support the faster 1600MHz DDR3 memory, and there's a new graphics processor, the Intel HD Graphics 4000 which will support up to three independent displays (including the laptop display).
For the MacBook Air, Intel will introduce two processors -- a 2 GHz Core i7 and a 1.8 GHz Core i5. This pair will be a nice upgrade from the 1.6/1.7 GHz Core i5 and the 1.8 GHz Core i7 in the 2011 MacBook Air.
The Ivy Bridge processors have a Thermal Design Power (TDP) ranging from 17 W to 55 W. Apple currently uses 17 W processors in the MacBook Air and 35 W-45 W processors in the Pro. New to the Ivy Bridge processors is a programmable TDP, which will give Apple greater flexibility in its case design and CPU choice. Apple could possibly choose a processor and tweak the TDP to produce a notebook with the power of a MacBook Pro and the design of the MacBook Air. These Ivy Bridge processors should land in May 2012 which gives us an approximate time frame for the debut of new MacBook Air and Pro models.