New Apple MacBook Pro rumors swirl

Apple may be plotting a big MacBook Pro announcement as soon as next week, speculation fueled in part by an Intel ad.

Apple Insider got the ball rolling on this rumor, citing "people familiar with the matter" who said employees at Apple operating units have been alerted to a big product launch they haven’t been filled in on. MacRumors pegs the announcement date as Feb. 24.

Word is that Apple is readying the rollout of new MacBook Pro laptops powered by new Intel "Sandy Bridge" processors.  However, the flaw discovered by Intel in the latest generation Core processors isn’t expected to affect the new Apple machines.

APPLE IPHONEYS: The iPhone 5 edition

Tom’s Hardware points out that Intel clued in Apple enthusiasts a year ago about new MacBook Pros by running an ad about its latest processors before Apple had a chance to announce its laptops – and déjà vu, perhaps it has done the same again. The current line of MacBook Pros are powered by Intel’s Core i5 and i7 chips.

Speculation is that Apple’s rollout will feature 13-, 15- and 17-inch models. Apple watchers anticipate laptops that are thinner, lighter and maybe even less expensive than current models.

MacBook Pro rumors offer a brief respite from the non-stop Apple iPhone 5 buzz and predictions over what’s next for the iPad tablet computer line.

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