Apple is reportedly preparing to refresh its MacBook Air lineup, which was last updated in July of 2011.
Although a specific timeline for the long-awaited refresh has not yet been confirmed, AppleInsider tells us the new MacBook Air models will boast Intel's next-gen Ivy Bridge processors.
Faced with the very real prospect of an ARM-based MacBook Air at some point in the near future, Intel has apparently managed to get its "Ultra" U-Series Processors down to a rather impressive TDP of just 17 watts, with processors running at clock speeds of 2GHz and 1.8GHz.
It should also be noted that Cupertino may be planning to expand its MacBook Air lineup with a new 15-inch model - which would join the existing 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch screen size lineup.
As AppleInsider's Sam Oliver points out, more MacBook Air options could help Apple rebuff competition from Windows-based Ultrabooks attempting to mimic the thin and light design of the Air.
However, it appears as if Apple has little to worry about, at least on the current Ultrabook front. According to J.P. Morgan analyst Mike Moskowitz, Windows-based Ultrabooks won't become "meaningful enough" to drive significant growth in the notebook PC market until at least 2013.
"It seems that everyone wants to be like Apple," the analyst wrote in a recent industry note. "All of this market emulation of Apple is ironic, in our view, given the initial skepticism that the MacBook Air received."
Moskowitz added that the 2012 Ultrabook scenario was reminiscent of the 2011 tablet push, namely "a lot of sell-in from Apple look-alikes but with little sell through," as the new Ultrabooks are just "noise" and unlikely to affect the MacBook Air's "accelerating growth dynamics."