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Friday, August 22, 2008, 03:10 pm PT (06:10 pm ET)

Next-gen MacBook Air CPU; Apple's SoHo neighbors complain

Intel's Developer Forum has revealed the processors likely to underpin the first refresh of the MacBook Air ultraportable. At the same time, residents near Apple's SoHo retail store in New York City allege that its frequent concerts are ruining the neighbourhood.

Slipping underneath the radar amidst talk of Nehalem and other next-generation technology, Intel at the San Francisco edition of its Developer Forum this week announced its first regularly available processor based on the same, very small chip packaging that made the MacBook Air possible.

Nicknamed the Core 2 Duo S, the 1.6GHz and 1.86GHz parts share the same basic architecture as chips released in July but consume about 60 percent less surface area through both a smaller main processor and smaller bridge chips used to interface with memory and peripherals.

Although they run at nearly the same clock speeds as the processors in Apple's 13.3-inch ultraportables, they should be faster through a 1.06GHz system bus (up from 800MHz) and a larger 6MB Level 2 onboard memory cache. They also consume less power at just 17W compared to the 20W of Apple's custom-ordered chip.

As the only processors that would fit into the extremely tight confines of the Air's chassis, the two Core 2 Duo S chips are a likely direct clue as to Apple's direction for its first update to the lightweight MacBook.

Apple's SoHo neighbors file complaints with NYC officials

As much as some tout Apple's flagship store in the SoHo district of Manhattan for its secondary role as a concert venue, local residents and offices are reporting a very different experience.

The neighborhood's SoHo Alliance organization has submitted a letter to the New York City borough's President, Scott Stringer, complaining that the frequent concerts are not only excessively loud and block the streets with fans but that they may violate local laws, including occupancy rules and mandates for public assembly. An August 12th performance by the Jonas Brothers is described as the event that pushed locals past the breaking point.

"This concert attracted thousands of young teenage girls who SCREAMED INCESSANTLY on the street for hours for their idols, blocking traffic, injuring one resident in the crush, and inconveniencing scores of other people and businesses," the SoHo Alliance writes. "This concert for the Jonas Brothers was like the Beatles at Shea Stadium. The screaming was that loud. However, residential Greene Street is not Shea Stadium."

Construction at inappropriate times of the night has also been one of Apple's more serious offenses, the group says. The Mac maker is further accused of lying to the Alliance and to the borough President about night work permits it didn't have.

City officials have yet to take action, and Apple hasn't commented on the matter.