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New MacBook rumors: Retina displays, USB 3.0 and more

Next month will supposedly bring a new line of MacBooks to eager laptop buyers around the world, but it won't be the modest spec bumps of the last few years. This year's crop is rumored to be carry major improvements in just about every aspect. A few recent additions to the rumor pile make it worth taking a moment to review just exactly what we may expect come mid-June.

  • Display: The new MacBooks will supposedly be graced by "Retina" style high-resolution displays. Reports as early as December suggested 2880x1800 pixels would be the magic number — exactly twice the current resolution of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air is supposed to get this upgrade as well, according to the latest gossip. Such displays will be a powerful feature to list, but they also present engineering challenges in both hardware and software.
  • Graphics: To support animations and 3-D graphics on the new high-resolution screens, an improved graphics chipset will be required. Not surprisingly,9to5Mac  discovered references in the latest version of OS X to NVIDIA's GeForce GT 650M chip, which is a powerful integrated GPU — as opposed to discrete, like a graphics card.
  • Processor: Intel's latest CPUs and boards, known as Ivy Bridge, should come standard on the new laptops. They're faster than last year's models, of course, and also should have significant power savings.
  • Design: The Pro series (if it retains that name) should be getting a serious facelift, gaining more Air-like design but shedding (as that series has done) several features in order to get it. No numbers have surfaced, but by eliminating a few ports and the optical drive, the thickness of the laptop can likely be reduced by a quarter or more. Saved space will also make room for more battery.
  • Storage: Having all flash memory, like an iPhone or MacBook Air, won't satisfy the power users who need terabytes of storage space for high-definition movies and such like — and it's expensive, to boot. But there may be flash to boot with:Bloomberg describes the new laptops as having flash storage for system and critical files, so booting will be faster. Large and seldom-used files will be written to a normal spinning drive.
  • Other: USB 3.0 is supposed to arrive on Macs at last, perhaps due to its inclusion on the newest Intel boards. There will likely also be some smaller changes: the removal of the Ethernet port, for instance and replacing the power button on the keyboard where the now-defunct "eject" button would have been, as on the Air.

None of these are confirmed, of course, but none of them are particularly outlandish, either. Chances are that most of them will be present in some form, though some may cost extra, such as the boot-accelerating flash storage. And more may appear before the rumored release period around June 11 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for His personal website is