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Monday, April 28, 2008, 03:45 pm PT (06:45 pm ET)

New 10.5.3 seed; custom Intel iMac chips, MacBook Air SSDs

Apple on Monday asked its developer community to begin testing yet another build of its 10.5.3 Leopard update, which packs a slew of new fixes. Meanwhile, Intel has once again tweaked some of its processors at the Mac maker's request. And STEC will reportedly supply flash drives for the next MacBook Air revision.

Mac OS X 10.5.3 build 9D25

Exactly one week after releasing Mac OS X 10.5.3 build 9D23 to its vast developer community, Apple on Monday followed up with build 9D25, people familiar with the matter tell AppleInsider.

Though the company made no changes to a list of twelve core evaluation areas in which developers should focus their testing efforts, it did tack on nearly two dozen addition bug fixes, bringing the total number of individual enhancements and code corrections expected as part of Mac OS X 10.5.3 to over 200.

Some of the latest fixes target sequential write errors in the Finder, column views in Mail.app, 802.1X AirPort issues, problems with AFP Server hanging, and problems with MCX Client.

As was the case with a couple of builds that preceded it, 9D23 is said to have arrived alongside documentation that listed no known issues as being present in the Leopard update. The software currently weighs in at approximately 415 MB in its barebones distribution and remains on track for a release within the next two weeks.

Latest iMac chips are special run

All of the microprocessors used in Apple's new iMac line announced Monday are part of a special run of Intel's existing mobile processor lineup rather than an early of Centrino 2 models, an Intel spokesperson confirmed to Electronista.

Although the processors match the same core clock rates and 1,066MHz system bus speeds as those of the chipmaker's upcoming platform due this June, the processors are instead said to be unlisted speed grades that include special support for the faster bus speeds (up from 800MHz), produced at Apple's request

This reportedly allowed the Mac maker maintain an iMac logic-board design based on the same "Santa Rosa" chipset used in the previous generation models.

Also of interest is the thermal envelope of the 3.06 GHz chip, which demands 55 watts of power in order to boost past the "official" 2.8GHz top speed of Intel's current mobile lineup, and is designed for "mobile on desktop" systems, such as large gaming notebooks and crossover PCs.

Intel's current line of mobile processors top out at 45 watts, with most consuming 35 watts or less. However, the chipmaker says its upcoming Centrino 2-era processors will consume 25W and 35W in most models.

In the limited time they've been working together, Apple has also seen help from Intel in procuring early or modified processors for its 8-Core Mac Pro (early 3.0 GHz quad-core Xeon), iMac (early 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme), and the MacBook Air (custom 1.6 and 1.8GHz Core 2 Duos).

STEC wins MacBook Air SSD contract

STEC has won a contract to replace Samsung as a supplier of solid-state drives for Apple's MacBook Air, according to a research note from B. Riley analyst Salomon Kamalodine.

Citing industry sources, he said the new Apple business could lead to an incremental $25 million to $30 million in revenue for semiconductor company in 2009.