We think Apple's on the verge of updating its MacBook Pro line of laptops, but Intel may have let the cat out of the bag early with an image in an ad. Skinnier? Check. Optical drives? Gone (probably).
Intel's just popped up  with a new advert for "the 2nd generation of Intel Core processors" and among the visuals is a super-skinny laptop that has an unmistakable Apple-esque design. Last year Intel did something very similar , teasing the upcoming release of Core i5 chips with an ad that included a MacBook--it quickly adjusted the ad, but it was actually indicative of an imminent MacBook refresh. Back then in early 2010 the tweak was merely to the processor oomph of the computers.
But this refresh may be much more significant. We've suspected this fact for some time, driven by a few rumors and purported leaks, and by deducing  how Apple may proceed from its tweaks to its MacBook Air  line of laptops--a device design that successfully indicated how Apple was going to restyle nearly all of its portable computers.
So what does the advert show? It seems to display a super-slim laptop that has a flat-rectangular profile, not like the wedge-profile of the Air. See that IR port on the front right of the keyboard segment? Classic Apple design, and similar to the placement on existing Pros. See the lid with its glossy black bezel, and the radius of the curves that seem to be very Johnny Ive-ish in design (and suspiciously similar to our imaginative rendering  from December 2010)? Again, similar to the existing Pros. We're not saying this definitely is a new MacBook... but we're tempted to say just that.
Because the design would seem to support many of the existing rumors. It's thought Apple will tweak the Pro laptops to ape the MacBook Air's super-slim profile--after all, a smaller, lighter notebook PC will please many people who lug their computers around and the sales success of the new Airs definitely supports this thinking. A super-slim machine could also have Apple ditching optical drives  entirely--the skinny profile of the PC in this image would seem to rule out a DVD mechanism--and this is a move Apple could definitely make. Skinnier machines may also see partial (or complete) superseding of spinning hard-drives for solid-state ones, making the most of the speed gains these impart for normal computing, and the fact that they sip less battery power than hard disks so the machine's battery lasts longer.
We also know that rumors  say an Intel Sandy Bridge-powered MacBook is en route in around "two weeks" and there are "additional" adjustments to the design that go beyond a new powerful CPU. Apple's even thought to be ramping up orders  from manufacturers despite the chip manufacturing error  that plagued Sandy Bridge's arrival on the market.
The one thing that makes us doubt this is a new MacBook is its color: Black. Apple's been focusing on aluminum unibody design a lot, touting its advantages, and left black plastic casings for its MacBooks behind a while ago. But another MacBook Pro-related rumor  suggests that along with an innovative new battery tech for longer life, the Pros will get a "stronger, lighter, more scratch resistant" aluminum material. Could this new alloy be colored too? Apple did license  advanced alloy "liquid metal" tech from the Liquidmetal company just last year, so ...okay, enough speculating for one post.
To read more news like this, follow Fast Company on Twitter: Click here.