Quad Core MacBook Pro On the (Macworld) Horizon?

You may or may not have forgotten about the MacBook Pro’s larger self, the 17-inch model. Following its conspicuous absence from the lineup of new laptops announced at the notebook event which took place this past October, news came that Apple had not forsaken the bigger-screened version, but that its release was delayed due to production issues. Well, we’ve yet to see the 17-incher appear, but now it looks like there might’ve been good reason for the prolonged absence.

APC today is suggesting that the recently released (just yesterday, in fact) low-cost quad-core processor from Intel, the Core 2 Extreme Q9000, might have something to do with Apple’s hold out. That’s right, the theory is that Apple could be prepping its first quad core notebook using the chip, which, as APC points out, does work out well on paper, if you consider the chip’s price point and Apple’s apparent acceptable margins. For the sake of comparison, consider that Acer has already announced a gaming laptop with a $1,799 price point using the chip.

At this point, the theory is just that, a theory, based on the timing of Intel’s release and the continued presence of an old machine at the top end of the MacBook Pro line. It is, however, a sound theory that holds up to scrutiny. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for a Macworld announcement, and it’s impossible to conceive that Intel didn’t tip its hand to Apple earlier about this development, and the timeframe for its release. The new price point of the quad core processor would allow Apple to stay under the dangerous $3,000 mark.

Apple could also be planning to offer multiple models, splitting the 17-incher into two basic configurations, one with a dual, and the other with this new quad core chip. That would account for the rumors that circulated before Macworld that internal Apple pricing sheets were showing more models than were released at the October event. Taken together, all the clues lead me to believe that we’ll almost certainly be seeing this in the flesh (in the aluminum?) come Macworld.