Contrary to what many of us believed, it turns out the MacBook Air does have a custom Intel CPU after all, and it’s not an ultra-low voltage (ULV) CPU either – it’s a full-blown Merom-based Core 2 Duo running at 1.6Ghz or 1.8GHz, with an 800MHz front side bus (FSB) and 4MB of L2 Cache. The actual voltage is less than a typical mobile-oriented Core 2 Duo, however it is more than a Low Voltage (LV) CPU.
Anandtech has more details about just how unique this CPU is, with this information from Intel: “The MacBook Air uses the IntelÂ® Coreâ„¢ 2 Duo Processor and Intel 965GMS chipset with integrated Gfx using a new miniaturized package technology. This new CPU and chipset allows for approximately 60% reduction in total footprint. The Core 2 Duo Processor TDP is 20 watts. The Macbook Air is using existing Core 2 Duo technology with a lower voltage spec in a new miniaturized packaging design. It is not a ULV processor.”
Anandtech also makes an observation (or distinction if you prefer) that many critics and fans have not made: To understand the MacBook Air you must first accept that it’s not aimed at the same target market as the regular MacBook or MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, a side effect of Apple’s very strong marketing is that many who shouldn’t be considering the MacBook Air, are.
The MacBook Air is designed to compete in the ultra-portable space, where compromises are inevitable and prices are very high.