Intel’s SFF Merom: Just for Apple

During Jobs’ keynote, Apple mentioned that the Core 2 Duo in the MacBook Air was 60% smaller than standard Core 2 Duo processors. A quick look at Intel’s mobile Core 2 Duo datasheets reveals that indeed both the micro-FCPGA and micro-FCBGA packaged Meroms measure 35mm x 35mm. Is it possible that Intel designed a completely new package just for Apple?



It turns out that the answer is a surprising: sort-of. At last year’s Fall IDF Intel talked about Montevina, the successor to Santa Rosa due out in the second half of 2008. Montevina would combine a new chipset (Cantiga) with mobile Penryn. In addition to Montevina Intel will also release Montevina SFF, a smaller package version of the platform that reduces overall chip footprint by around 60%.


Pay attention to the size of the CPU, it drops from 35mm x 35mm down to 22mm x 22mm - Penryn SFF is around 40% of the size of regular mobile Penryn, which happens to be the same size as Merom.

It looks like Intel created Merom SFF specifically for the MacBook Air, a product that wasn’t in Intel’s lineup or roadmap but one that Apple needed. Remember that the first chip that will look like this wasn’t scheduled to be out for another six months with Montevina SFF.

It’s not clear whether Intel will make this custom Merom available to other OEMs (we’d suspect they would if there was enough demand), but it’s a tremendous feat on Apple’s part. This isn’t the first time Intel has put together a one-off chip for Apple; if you’ll remember, the CPU in the Apple TV was a special Dothan that wasn’t a part of Intel’s standard lineup.

We’ll have a look at the MacBook Air as soon as they start shipping, if you’re ordering one now we’d recommend taking the SSD option if you can afford it. At $999 it’s pricey, but it should help keep heat down in the chassis and performance should be better than the pitiful 1.8” HDD in the system, which we suspect will end up being its weak point.

We also can’t help but think that a Penryn based MacBook Air would be far more desirable thanks to lower thermal output of Intel’s 45nm chips. If you are fine waiting, a MacBook Air in the second half of 2008 will give you slightly better performance, better battery life and should keep your lap a lot cooler.
Index
POST A COMMENT

54 Comments

View All Comments

  • michal1980 - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    yes brown nose to apple some more.

    I never said that was a perfect example. Its 6+ months old.

    BUT AT THE SAME THICKNESS AS THE AIR:

    IT HAS:

    PC CARD SLOT
    DVD DRIVE
    ETHERNET
    MORE USB
    SD CARD READER

    And is still as thick as the air. And as light, and the battery lasts nearly enough.

    You apple fan boi's are as bad as the people that by bose. You think by paying for the name you are getting something 'different' and unique. when in fact other compainies are doing the same thing if not better.

    But OMG, it has a apple sticker on the front.
    Reply
  • BZDTemp - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    > yes brown nose to apple some more.

    LOL - way to go. Very intelligent comment.

    > I never said that was a perfect example. Its 6+ months old.
    >
    > BUT AT THE SAME THICKNESS AS THE AIR:
    >
    Check the details again. At the thickets place the Air is like your example and on the thinnest it's like nothing while your example is the same all over so on average the air is half the thickness.


    > IT HAS:
    >
    > PC CARD SLOT

    And when did anybody last use one? I have an old P3 where I use it for a wireless NIC but thats the first time ever I found use for that slot.


    > DVD DRIVE

    Needed for? Unless you rent movies you would hardly ever need it so who cares - when needed hook one up or use the one in a different machine.


    > ETHERNET

    Because? If really needed there is USB to ethernet that cost peanuts.

    > MORE USB

    Again - why? Mouse, keyboard - it has Bluetooth.

    > SD CARD READER
    >
    Just hook up the camera instead or get a mem card with wireless on it for $99.

    > And is still as thick as the air. And as light, and the battery > lasts nearly enough.

    5 hours sound okay. Once the battery is dead the machine will be obsolete anyway and door stops don't need battery power.


    > You apple fan boi's are as bad as the people that by bose. You
    > think by paying for the name you are getting something 'different' > and unique. when in fact other compainies are doing the same thing > if not better.
    >
    How about showing a piece with the same solutions then. It's a free world just get what you like and stop the name calling.


    > But OMG, it has a apple sticker on the front.

    I could care less. Quality, functionality, design, price and so on matters. Brands mean nothing. Except please tell us what you buy so we can avoid being associated with your kind in any way :-)
    Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Heh... yeah... because Steve told you so, you don't need any of those things. Excellent reason to dismiss those features as unnecessary. The thing is that Steve is advertising this as a total solution when it obviously lacks numerous features that many people use daily. Of course, this thing isn't for everyone regardless of Steve's statement so get what works for you.

    Can it boot from a shared media device over the wireless network? Hopefully it can either do that or boot from USB DVD drives or else you're up a creek when something goes 'bad', for example. Can you use the Bluetooth mouse/keyboard while booting (drivers loaded during boot of the OS installer of choice)? Sometimes 'simple' is pretty important.
    Reply
  • themadmilkman - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    Then get the 64GB SSD that's offered. Sure, it's an extra $1,000, but it solves your HD speed issue. Just because you don't fit the target market doesn't make the product crap. Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    Its the usual apple "optional" rip-off scheme - only this time you basicly have to go for it if you want to actually work with this puppy. With an additional 900 bucks this thing unfortunately doesnt look so attractive anymore. Reply
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    you mean the target market of idiots?


    its a good looking piece of crap.
    Reply
  • rsasp - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    wow, no optical drive, and not even an all in one card reader? how am I suppose to get my files on to the computer when I'm on my business trip?
    Reply
  • motrimer - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    An all-in-one card reader? There's a absolute deluge of macs with that built-in.... Complain about the integrated graphics, about no expresscard slot, but stick your cards, you're flaky optical media..... :)
    Windows OEM's buy gaming companies so they can sell well-designed behemoths with too many options. There is no real parallel to Apple, and if you follow their choices it's dumb obvious why they are able to get away with what truly seems preposterous every once in a while.
    CES who?
    Reply
  • Scott66 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    I forgot bluetooth as well Reply
  • Scott66 - Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - link

    Research "Back to my Mac" or use .mac or jump drive or wireless. If none of those work what ancient system are you trying to connect to. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now