A few months ago we started hearing rumors that Apple was performing final tests on a 15-inch laptop that will come in slimmer than the existing 15-inch MacBook Pro model, presumably boasting flash storage and no optical drive. Now, another report from Japanese blog Macotakara says it won't be long before we see the new MacBook model in shops.

The report cites an Asian source claiming Apple has already finished development of an LCD test component for the anticipated notebook. It's unclear if this new system will be a part of Apple's Air or Pro family, or if the company is planning to extend the ultrathin design all the way to 17-inch systems.

Apple's MacBook Pro line has not seen a significant redesign since the company switched to its unibody design in 2008. Trimming down the laptop's profile while maintaining Pro performance seems like the next logical step, though the move to flash memory would probably need to happen gradually as storage space and price is still a concern.

The other question that remains to be answered is timing. Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup last week, adding slightly faster Intel Sandy Bridge processors, as well as improved AMD Radeon graphics in preparation for the holiday buying season. It seems very unlikely that the company would bring out a completely revamped model before the end of the year, but it remains to be seen if the update will come early 2012 based on current Intel Sandy Bridge processors or if Apple will hold off until Ivy Bridge is ready by sometime around mid-2012.

Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, with systems arriving in Spring 2012. Ivy Bridge will support USB 3.0 and OpenCL-capable built-in graphics.