It's no news to say that Apple will upgrade its MacBook Pro laptop range to Intel's latest generation Core processors, but what else can we look forward to? 9to5Mac has been in touch with sources within Apple's supply chain, who suggest that the 2012 iteration of MBP hardware will be the first in the Mac line to include Retina displays, while also slimming down in the most significant design alteration since 2008.
Specifically addressing a new 15-inch model, the site's informants claim it will omit the optical disc drive in an effort to reach a new thinner profile — albeit one that's still thicker than the MacBook Air — with the power button taking the place of the now-defunct eject key on the keyboard. Their familiarity with Apple's plans stems from seeing prototype unibody casings, which are said to be undergoing test production rounds, so things might still change, though we're not encouraged to hear the designs "lack room for Ethernet."
The information about a Retina display meshes with earlier rumors we'd heard out of Taipei of an upcoming MacBook Pro with 2880 x 1800 resolution, as well as code in Apple's OS X operating system referring to HiDPI (i.e. high resolution) visual assets. What the current sources add to the previous intel is that the screen should be "jaw-dropping."
USB 3.0 is the final major addition, sitting as a complement alongside Thunderbolt, mostly owing to Intel finally supporting SuperSpeed USB natively in its latest chipsets for Ivy Bridge processors. If you're feeling speculative, some GeekBench scores have also emerged, ostensibly of the new-gen MacBook Pro laptops, showing a healthy bump in performance over the stuff that's currently on sale. They also list the Mountain Lion version of OS X as the operating system, so there may be hope for seeing the release of both Apple's latest software and hardware sometime soon — wouldn't WWDC 2012 be just the perfect time?