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Low-voltage Intel Core i5 delay could impact MacBook Air upgrade


New speculation Friday suggested Apple's MacBook Air, last upgraded in June, may not see a refresh until after its MacBook Pro counterparts, due to claims of a delay for Intel's Core i5 UM processors.

First reported by Fudzilla, the allegations of the ultra-thin 18W TDP processor arriving "a bit later" do not come with a source. But French Mac Web site Hardmac used the claims to speculate that an update to Apple's ultralight MacBook Air may come later than the hardware maker would like.

"Such processors are not fully ready/available and Apple will have to delay the update of the MacBook Air by couple of weeks," the report said, also not citing a source. "It is still possible that Intel ships first samples to Apple, in small quantities, at a premium price."

Contacted by AppleInsider, an Intel spokesman said the all of the company's chips introduced in January are now shipping. The company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Even if the Core i5 UM delays are true, they may not impact Apple, because in the past, Intel has provided special early access to the Mac maker for its newest chips. The "UM" distinction represents the ultra-low-voltage version of the mobile processor, which is not used in the current model.

The Core i5-520UM has a maximum processor speed of 1.86GHz, and an integrated GPU with 500MHz of processing power. The 32nm dual-core chip also includes 3MB of L3 cache.

Apple has scheduled an event next Wednesday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to introduce new products. While the company's long anticipated tablet device is expected to be the centerpiece, the Cupertino, Calif., company could also use the opportunity to upgrade other hardware.

Apple last updated the MacBook Air in June 2009, dropping its entry price to $1,499 for a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based system. Apple's full line of MacBook Pros are also based on the Core 2 Duo processor.

Intel's new "Arrandale" architecture based dual-core processors were formally introduced earlier this month. The processors are set to improve upon the previous line of Core 2 Duo chips. Benchmarks of the Core i5 chip found it to have better performance without a negative impact on battery life.