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New Intel chip paves the way for the fanless Retina MacBook Air you’ve been waiting for

12-inch Retina MacBook Air Specs

Intel on Tuesday at Computex 2014 unveiled a brand new processor, the Intel Core M, that may be crucial for future ultra-portable devices including tablets and Ultrabooks, but also a future MacBook Air model. To demo the processor, Intel unveiled the “world’s first 14nm fanless mobile PC reference design,” a 2-in-1 12.5-inch Windows tablet/laptop that’s just 7.2mm without a keyboard, and which weighs 670g.

“The innovative design is based on the first of Intel’s next-generation 14nm Broadwell processors that are purpose-built for 2 in 1s and will be in market later this year,” the company said. “Called the Intel Core M processor, it will deliver the most energy-efficient Intel Core processor in the company’s history. The majority of designs based on this new chip are expected to be fanless and deliver both a lightning-fast tablet and a razor-thin laptop.”

In addition to letting manufacturers create thinner devices, the new Intel Core M family of processors is also supposed to offer “blazing fast performance,” smooth app-switching,” “powerful visuals” and “long battery life.”

Apple is already rumored to be working on a new MacBook Air model that could feature a 12-inch Retina display. By using Intel’s Core M processor, the company could eliminate the fan of the MacBook Air, thus making the device even thinner and lighter. The fan assembly of the MacBook Air is still rather bulky – as this fan replacement iFixit guide for the early 2014 13-inch model shows. Thus, Apple’s current MacBook Air measures 17mm at its thickest point, no matter whether it’s an 11.6-inch or a 13.3-inch model.

Microsoft made a point during its recent Surface Pro 3 event to detail the new fan it designed specifically for the device, supposed to be 30% more efficient than the fan in any competing product. The custom fan also allowed Microsoft to shrink the Surface Pro down to just 9.1mm in thickness – comparatively, the Surface Pro 2 is 13.4mm thin.

One device that will use the new Intel Core M processor is the Transformer Book T300 Chi, a 12.5-inch 2-in-1 machine that packs a 2560 x 1440 display that was also announced at the same tech event..

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.