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Suppliers gearing up for Apple's launch of new MacBook Air models

Apple's overseas supply chain is said to be anticipating the debut of a refreshed MacBook Air lineup, which was last updated in July of 2011.

The anticipated MacBook Air update was mentioned on Tuesday by DigiTimes, which said that assembler Quanta Computer is expected to see its revenues grow thanks to the new product launch. It was said that Apple is "set to launch a new MacBook Air model," but a specific timeline for its release was not given.

Apple's next MacBook Air lineup is expected to sport Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processors. Leaked documents from Intel shows that its "Ultra" U-Series Processors will have a TDP of just 17 watts, and will run at clock speeds of 2GHz and 1.8GHz.

There have also been numerous reports that Apple is planning to expand its MacBook Air lineup with a new 15-inch model, joining the existing 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch screen sizes available. More options in its ultraportable category could help Apple ward off growing competition from Windows-based "Ultrabooks," which mimic the thin-and-light design of the MacBook Air.

Apple most recently updated its MacBook Air lineup last July, when it added high-speed Thunderbolt ports and backlit keyboards to both the 11.6- and 13.3-inch models. The MacBook Air starts at $999, and replaced Apple's now-defunct white polycarbonate MacBook at that price point.

The success of the MacBook Air since it was redesigned in late 2010 has inspired Apple to revamp its entire notebook lineup this year. New MacBook Pro models from Apple are expected to have a radically redesigned exterior that will share many traits with the MacBook Air.