Apple's future processor and GPU plans are the subject of numerous leaks today, with sources revealing that the company has been testing Intel Sandy Bridge Core iX chips for several months now, ahead of including them in future MacBook Pro and Mac Pro models, among others. Meanwhile, the company is also tipped to be considering solely using Sandy Bridge integrated graphics in its entry-level notebooks and ultraportables, while higher-end machines would switch from NVIDIA chips to AMD's Radeon range.
According to Electronista's sources, Apple has been testing 2.5GHz through to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 mobile processors for its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, together with dual 2.5GHz Core i3 chips all the way up to quad-core, 3.4GHz Core i7 chips for its desktop iMac and Mac Pro machines. Sandy Bridge is expected to make its official debut at CES 2011 in January, with the long period of testing leading to speculation that Apple will release updated machines sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, CNET's sources suggest that the Sandy Bridge GPU will be the sole graphics chip on 13-inch and smaller notebooks from Apple, while higher-end notebooks will look to AMD's Radeon line-up. The benefits of Sandy Bridge include a smaller overall CPU/GPU package, since the graphics chip is integrated into the processor itself. It would also allow Apple to bypass ongoing legal issues between Intel and NVIDIA which have constrained its choice of GPU/CPU pairings.