According to some early buzz surrounding an April 2011 MacBook Pro refresh, the new notebooks will ship with Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs, solid-state drives (SSDs) standard with capacities of up to 512GB — currently it’s an option — and will dispense with optical drives completely. Intel’s Sandy Bridge chips will run cooler than its predecessors, which in turn saves energy by reducing (eliminating?) the power draw of internal fans. SSDs require less power than traditional platter-based hard drives and offer performance benefits to boot. The downside is a pretty steep cost-per-gigabyte curve, not to mention longevity concerns (flash memory has a limited number of writes before it quits working altogether).
And about that optical drive… On one hand, it helps speed dematerialization. No more CDs and DVDs. On the other, it’s a huge hindrance for users that author CDs and DVDs or already have an extensive collection of disc-based software. Either way, its exclusion fits in line with Apple’s “app-ization” of OS X — whereby software and media is delivered over the air/Internet à la iPhone/iPad — and rumors that iTunes is headed to the cloud. That’s one heck of a way to ween the MacBook masses off physical media.
Also expect PVC-free internals and recyclable glass and aluminum, just like the current models and Apple’s green little tablet, the iPad. And don’t be shocked if the battery remains non-user replaceable (*shakes fist*). Nonetheless, if the rumors are true — a big if at this stage — they’re shaping up to be green machines indeed.
Update: Electronista is not convinced about the SSD-only aspect of the rumor.
Image credit: Apple