Coming Soon: Nehalem-Based MacBooks?

An e-mail sent to members of Intel’s Retail Edge promotional program and obtained by an Apple enthusiast site reveals that Apple has new MacBooks featuring the Core i5 processor in the works.

AppleInsider said it got its hands on a promotion for members of the Intel Retail Edge Program that reads: “January Prize Draw: Win a MacBook Pro. Pass this month’s trainings for 2 chances to win one of 2 MacBook Pro laptops with the accelerated response of an Intel Core i5 processor.”

Thing is, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) doesn’t have a Core i5 laptop. It currently uses Core 2 Duo processors. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) only just introduced the Core i5 mobile processor family last week at CES.

It also puts to rest some of the rumors that Apple might take a pass on the new Intel processors, part of the “Arrandale” generation of 32nm CPUs.

The Intel Retail Edge Program is for retail outlets that sell Intel products, such as Best Buy and Staples. It offers contests, raffles and deals like this all year as an incentive to selling Intel products. These retail employees can earn “chips” that they use to cash in for products.

The Core i5 processor is a hybrid CPU with a 32nm dual-core CPU and 45nm graphics processor all on the same die. However, Apple uses nVidia’s discrete chips for graphics. nVidia and Intel are embroiled in a legal fight over whether nVidia can make chipsets for the Nehalem processors.

In this case, though, it should not be a problem as the nVidia GPU in the MacBook uses a PCI Express-based card, so the license issues between the two companies should not come into play.

Of the 25 processors launched at CES, Intel has three Core i5 mobile processors: the 540M, a 2.53GHz processor; the 2.4GHz 520M; and the 2.26GHz 430M. All have 3MB of L3 cache, the GPUs run at 776MHz and support DDR3 memory. The 540M sells in lots of 1,000 for $257 each, the 520M sells for $225 and the 430M’s price has not yet been set.

Multiple announcements from Apple?

Apple has an event planned for Jan. 27 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, which most have guessed will be the introduction of a long-rumored Apple tablet device. However, with this and now rumors of the iPhone being updated, it is possible that Apple could make this a multi-product event.

For example, Boy Genius Reports says that Apple has not issued an operating system update to the iPhone for several months now because the iPhone and tablet use the same OS, and since the OS is full of tablet-related code and references, they didn’t want people digging through the code to find clues (which is exactly what people do and how some leaks have occurred).

So there is a good chance that on top of the tablet, Apple will announce a major revision to iPhone OS as well. And who knows what else.

Intel declined to comment for the story and Apple did not return calls for comment.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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