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Chatter picks up for Sandy Bridge MacBook Air

New MacBook Air sporting a Sandy Bridge processor and a high-speed Thunderbolt connector is headed toward mass production, report says.

The decibel level gets higher every day for chatter about the imminent arrival of the updated MacBook Air.

2010 MacBook Air.  Internals will be overhauled with new model.
The 2010 MacBook Air. Internals will be overhauled with new model. Apple

The latest report from Taipei-based DigiTimes says the MacBook Air supply chain will go into high gear in July as Apple ramps up production, supporting earlier speculation from analysts.

Apple's smallest and lightest laptop is also expected to become its most popular this year. Total MacBook shipments for 2011 have been upped from 13 million to 15 million because of the Air's projected popularity, the report said.

Raw production numbers aside, the Air will likely become--if it hasn't already--Apple's flagship laptop, as it embodies Apple's design direction with all of its best-selling products. In short, a small, minimalist industrial design aesthetic, not unlike like the iPad.

The importance of getting Intel's Sandy Bridge processor into the MacBook Air can't be overstated. It will bring the Air in line with the processing oomph the 13-inch MacBook Pro already packs. And it paves the way for future updates with Intel's faster, more power-efficient Ivy Bridge processor. The new Air is also expected to come with OS X Lion and a high-speed Thunderbolt port, as widely reported.

The bad news is the Windows and Google camps are beginning to ape the Air, which could dent its uniqueness. The 11.6-inch Asus UX21, for example, has a stunning design and offers goodies like a high-speed solid-state drive, a USB 3.0 port, and power-efficient Core i5 and Core i7 Sandy Bridge processors. It's due later this year.

And Google is beginning to promote Air-like designs. In addition to the existing ultraslim 12-inch Chromebook from Samsung running Google's Chrome operating system, more Chromebooks are expected this year using chips based on the ARM architecture.

But there's nothing like the genuine article, thus all of the anticipation for the update.

(Via AppleInsider)