MacBook Pro stock shortage could point to imminent Sandy Bridge refresh

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Apple's MacBook Pro range could be due for an imminent refresh, if reports of dwindling stocks of existing 15- and 17-inch models pan out. According to multiple MacRumors sources both Apple Stores and third-party retailers are running low on supplies of the notebooks, with Amazon listing 1-2 month delays on shipping the 17-inch MBP. The shortage could herald a refresh of the MacBook Pro line, introducing Intel's new Sandy Bridge 2011 Core processors.

That update has been predicted for some time now, with reports back in December that Apple was undertaking significant processor and GPU testing, including AMD Radeon options and certain entry-level machines using Sandy Bridge onboard graphics. Later rumors pegged the refresh in the first half of 2011, based on information leaking from Apple's supply chain.

Exact specifications of the updated MacBook Pro notebooks are unclear, but it seems likely that Apple would take the opportunity to give the aesthetic and battery life an overhaul as well. Whether that includes dropping the optical drive on certain SKUs in favor of increased portability, or adding Intel Light Peak connectivity, remains to be seen.