Apple’s Next MacBook Air Could Be Fanless

Thanks to advances in chip technology, Apple's next MacBook Air could be fanless.

Feb 18, 2014 at 4:00PM

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook Air is due for an upgrade during 2014, particularly as the Windows notebook/Ultrabook ecosystem has aggressively pursued high-resolution displays, slim displays, and even touchscreens. While Apple aggressively pursued improved battery life in the 2013 MacBook Air -- and arguably did a better job utilizing Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Haswell than any other PC vendor -- the next-generation MacBook Air is going to need a major new selling point. Just what could it be?

Bye-bye fans!
At the Intel Developer Forum, Intel talked about how its next-generation Broadwell processor would enable fanless Ultrabook/convertible designs:

Images

Source: Intel

Moving to fanless systems offers some pretty tangible benefits. According to Intel, fanless systems offer the following advantages over actively cooled systems:

  • Silent
  • Industrial design freedom -- which means thinner designs, designs without vents, and sealed designs
  • No moving parts, so the systems will be more reliable
  • More battery capacity, since the active cooling system took up space that could be allocated to the battery

Apple is well-known for gorgeous industrial designs that maximize the user experience. Apple also likely heavily influences the design of Intel's chips. So, it seems only natural that a next-generation MacBook Air would take full advantage of the benefits of a chip suitable for fanless designs.

What about that iPad Pro?
What's interesting is that Apple is reportedly planning a larger iPad, commonly referred to as the "iPad Pro." This is supposed to be a convertible, productivity-oriented device built around Apple's next-generation A8 chip and iOS. This seems a lot like a MacBook Air replacement. However, since it doesn't run full OS X, there will still be users who want a full productivity-oriented product.

Further, a product built on a low-power Intel Core processor is likely to offer some pretty significant performance advantages over a next-generation Apple A8 system-on-chip, even in a fanless form factor. Indeed, today's Haswell-based MacBook Air offers well more than twice the CPU performance -- and multiple times the GPU performance -- of an Apple A7 running at full-tilt. It would be difficult for Apple to outright replace an Intel-powered device with a custom device without taking a potentially noticeable performance hit. The MacBook Air and iPad Pro will likely co-exist, with the former powered by Intel and the latter by Apple's own chip design.

The lines are blurring
The bottom line is that the lines between a large, high-end tablet and a traditional PC are blurring, and it's already clear that the MacBook Air and iPad Air lines are converging. While Apple's mobile chips are quite formidable, they are still fighting the MacOS software base, Intel's much greater experience at high-performance processor design, and a manufacturing disadvantage on the part of Apple's foundry partners. Apple will still likely continue to push forward its MacBook line, even if the iPad line begins to start acting more as a substitute for these products, rather than a complementary one. 

The next big trend in tech is here, and you can profit
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now... for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers