DigiTimes had earlier reported that upstream suppliers of Apple have recently started shipping components for a new version of the MacBook. The components point to the model being an ultra-thin version similar to the MacBook Air, albeit with a 15″ screen. Since the shipping information details only a small volume, the components are understandably parts required to assemble a prototype device.
Interestingly, SymbianOasis had reported earlier this year about a rumor wherein they believed that a thinner MacBook Pro is in the works. The info which they had been tipped included that this ultra-thin MacBook Pro would come with an OLED Apple Logo instead of the current white plastic logo.
Considering the 2 sources point to roughly the same thing we’re pretty sure that this rumor is believable. We are also inclined to believe that this model would replace the MacBook Pro 13″ since there is already a 13″ MacBook Air available. Also given the larger dimensions, the ultra-thin MacBook Pro 15″ would be able to handle a similar thermal load as the current unibody MacBook Pro (details below). Therefore releasing it as a MacBook Air would result in cannibalising sales of the MacBook Pro 13″. Moreover it would result in multiple products having the same target audience which is something that Apple would never do.
The 15″ ultra-thin could achieve similar performance as that of a 13″ unibody MacBook Pro. The 11″ MBA can handle a processor with TDP of 17W, while the 13″ MBP handles 35W TDP. The 15″ MBP can handle 45W TDP and a 20W TDP discrete GPU. However, this does not mean that the ultra-thin 15″ MacBook Pro would have a discrete GPU like the current 15″ unibody crop. This is due to the fact that even the current MacBook Pros work hard to keep the temp below 80°C when the GPU is under full load. The design of the MacBook Air can be assumed to decrease the heat handling by 40% (by observing the 13″ MBA & MBP). So a 15″ ultra-thin would have the capacity to handle roughly 35W which is what the current 13″ MBPs do. Thus the rumored device is most certainly a MacBook Pro and not an Air.
We can also safely assume that the rumored ultra-thin MacBook Pro would not have an optical drive or a conventional hard-drive. But I would not count out the ethernet port as the 15″ size would lead to increased thickness which can be designed to accomodate the ethernet port. A Pro computer cannot be visioned without an ethernet port anyway.