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Thursday, April 17, 2008, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Apple orders aluminum 13-inch MacBook shells, 3G iPhone chips

Separate reports have revealed that Apple's next wave of products for 2008 is soon to enter various stages of production, with orders placed for aluminum shells for the company's next-generation 13-inch MacBooks and a manufacturer chosen for the iPhone's 3G chipset.

A worker at a Taiwanese case manufacturer posting to one of the Taiwan's largest technology forums claims (link withheld to protect identity) that his unnamed employer has just this week received orders to produce enclosures for new MacBook systems.

Having signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple, the worker was hesitant to respond to questions on the matter from fellow members of the discussion forum, but did initially let slip that the order was for traditional aluminum-colored casings only.

The report appears to corroborate AppleInsider's source information on the subject, echoing assertions that white cases will disappear from the MacBook lineup, replaced instead by a silver, anodized aluminum enclosures reminiscent of those used in the MacBook Air and latest iMacs.

Few other details escaped along with the leak, though people familiar with Apple's plans have previously mentioned preserving the 13-inch screen and performing "trimming" around the borders of the next-gen notebooks, which should receive their makeover with their next update sometime in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, DigiTimes cites Taiwan's Economic Daily News in reporting that United Microelectronics Corporation has been tapped as the manufacturer for the Infineon baseband processor for the 3G-capable iPhone.

The newspaper maintains that UMC will use a 65 nanometer plant to produce the chip, which (though mistakenly written as PMB878) is known to be the PMB8878 — an integrated circuit which provides cellular data on HSDPA networks up to 7.2Mbps and is the source of the hidden SGOLD3 reference in the latest beta of Apple's iPhone 2.0 firmware.

Infineon's 2G, EDGE-only chipset for current iPhones is made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to the paper.

Neither EDN nor the factory worker have disclosed when the respective products are due to ship. Still, analysts tracking Infineon and other involved component makers have heard of spring production windows for iPhones, while numerous indicators have also suggest that MacBooks and MacBook Pros must wait until at least June, when Intel unveils Centrino 2 and vendors can begin using the next-generation mobile platform.