DigiTimes cites supply chain sources in claiming that Apple is set to launch a new 11.6-, 13.3-, and 15-inch MacBook Air series in the first quarter of 2012. The Taiwanese publication with a hit-or-miss record on Apple rumors says that the new MacBook Airs, including the new 15-inch model, have started pilot production.

Apple already makes an 11- and 13-inch model and a 15-inch ultra-thin Mac notebook was originally rumored by MacRumors back in July. TUAW later corroborated the 15-inch claim, adding that an ultra-thin 17-inch model was on the way too — both would be members of a redesigned MacBook Pro lineup, "not oversized Airs." While it may be rumor, it's clear that Apple's moving towards a product lineup that eschews optical drives and spinning hard disks in favor of Thunderbolt connectivity, SSD flash drives, and "cloud" services. The only question is when.

The Q1 2012 timing suggested by DigiTimes coincides with the release of Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge CPU microarchitecture and with it, the expected launch of some 30 to 50 new ultrabooks. Apple updated its MacBook Pro lineup in both October and February of 2011, while its MacBook Air was last updated in July.