Intel Broadwell processors could slim MacBook Air to just 9mm thick

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The Apple rumor mill has been abuzz for months with whispers that the company plans to release an even thinner MacBook Air with a Retina display, and Intel’s new line of Broadwell processors could be the vital component that makes that makes wafer-thin MacBooks a reality.

Intel’s Broadwell chips have been delayed b early manufacturing problems, but today Intel revealed new details on its new 14-nanometer processors that combine the high-performance of the Haswell Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, with low power improvements that may allow Jony Ive to slim the next MacBook Air down to just 9mm thick.

Intel’s architects have managed to create a new micro-architecture that the company claims will “usher in a wave of innovation in new form factors, experiences, and systems.” Broadwell’s smaller size is one piece of the puzzle, but the Core M chips also run cooler than existing Haswell parts, which should allow Apple to make a fanless MacBook Air just 9mm thick.

The Broadwell chips feature similar performance to Haswell, but battery life has been improved by the low-voltage design. Apple supposedly plans to launch a 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display and thinner design later this year, but its unclear if the Core M chips would be powerful enough support a Retina display.

Devices carrying the heat-efficient Core M processors should start hitting shelves just by the end of the year, according to Intel’s report, with wider OEM availability in the first half of 2015.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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