Monday September 15, 2014 10:34 am PDT by Eric Slivka
With Dell having announced its upcoming 5120 x 2880 "5K" display that would be the equivalent of a Retina 27-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display and Apple rumored to be launching its own such display later this year, connectivity options for such displays have now taken a significant step forward with today's official release of the DisplayPort 1.3 specification by the Video Electronics Standards Association (via 9to5Mac).
The new standard offers a 50 percent increase in bandwidth to 32.4 Gbps, or 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data once overhead is accounted for.
The increased bandwidth enables higher resolution monitors, including recently announced 5K monitors (with pixel resolutions of 5120 x 2880) using a single DisplayPort cable, without the use of compression. It will also enable higher resolutions when driving multiple monitors through a single connection using DisplayPort’s Multi-Stream feature, such as the use of two 4K UHD monitors, each with a pixel resolution of 3840 x 2160, when using VESA Coordinated Video Timing.
Apple has been rumored for some time to be working on Retina iMacs and displays, but connectivity bottlenecks have been one of the factors slowing progress in that area.
The previous DisplayPort 1.2a standard offered enough bandwidth to support 4K displays without compression, but pushing resolutions to 5K has presented difficulties for connectivity. With the new DisplayPort 1.3 standard, which will presumably be built into future Thunderbolt implementations, computer manufacturers such as Apple will be able to fully support the new high-resolution displays set to hit the market in the coming months.
Friday September 5, 2014 8:04 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Dell yesterday unveiled its new $2500 27-inch 5K monitor (UP2715K) that boasts an impressive 5120 x 2880 resolution at 218 pixels per inch. This ultra-high resolution places the monitor on par with Apple's Retina MacBook Pro, which has a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch, and would be the equivalent of a Retina 27-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display.
Dell does not detail the technology powering the monitor, but AnandTechbelieves the company is using Multi-Stream Transport (MST) to stitch together two 2560 x 2880 panels in order to provide 5120 pixels horizontally. Dell demoed the monitor to Maximum PC using a 5K H.265 video streamed from a workstation-class NVIDIA Quadro K5000 video card.
As outlined in our display roundup, customers have been looking toward a higher-resolution large display from Apple for some time, whether it be a true Retina version of the existing display or a somewhat lower resolution 4K display, particularly since Apple has been touting the 4K capabilities of the new Mac Pro. Rumors of Retina iMacs date back to 2012, but the machines have yet to appear, likely due to both cost and technological constraints.
With Dell listing its display at $2500, it is clear pricing remains a challenge for Apple's ambitions to launch Retina iMacs and standalone displays. Standalone displays may stand a better chance, as Apple has historically been willing to develop expensive large-screen displays priced in the thousands of dollars for its pro-level customers. An iMac almost certainly priced well north of $3000 could be a difficult proposition, however, so Apple may yet need more time for prices to come down before such a machine becomes commercially feasible.
Besides its impressive resolution, Dell's monitor ships with Dell's PremierColor technology and an edge-to-edge glass that includes both anti-smudge and anti-reflective properties. Also included in the display is an integrated media reader, six USB ports and 16W Harmon Kardon speakers. Video out support includes dual DisplayPort 1.2 ports for 5K video and a miniDisplayPort for 4K operation.
Dell's UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K monitor will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.
Apple did release a new low-end Mid 2014 21.5-inch iMac last month, but the remainder of the iMac lineup remained untouched and those machines are still considered Late 2013 models.
While the Mac mini entry has been taken as a hint that an upgrade may be imminent, especially since the machine has not been updated since October 2012, the iMac entry may point more towards the inclusions being an error. With the new low-end iMac having been added just last month, it seems unlikely that further iMac updates will occur in the near future.
It is possible Apple may have planned for a broader iMac update in the middle of the year with the low-end model appearing as part of that refresh, but the company may have changed plans due to a lack of chip availability or other factors. Alternatively, it may simply be an error unrelated to Apple's product launch plans.
Wednesday July 23, 2014 10:47 am PDT by Juli Clover
Following an earlier report on the launch of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, 9to5Mac has released a second report with details on OS X Yosemite and Apple's fall Mac plans. As has been previously mentioned, OS X Yosemite will launch in October, following iOS 8's September release alongside the iPhone 6.
The final Yosemite Developer Preview is expected to be seeded to developers on September 29, with a final golden master build coming around October 10, which suggests a late-October public launch date for Yosemite.
October will also see the potential introduction of the iWatch, as has been widely rumored, and Apple may also be planning to unveil several new products designed to promote Yosemite, including a smaller 12-inch MacBook with a high-resolution display and a new desktop computer, which may be an iMac or a standalone monitor with a 4K resolution screen.
Along with providing a few details on the desktop Retina machine, 9to5Mac's report echoes several details on the 12-inch MacBook previously shared by rumor sites, suggesting it will have a Retina display and a "thinner and slightly lighter aluminum body."
Apple believes that this new Retina MacBook will be a significant step forward in the laptop industry, and it is currently unclear if Apple will label this machine as a smaller MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air, or as an entirely new line.
While it is possible Apple will market the aforementioned 4K desktop as a "Retina" machine, the technology for true pixel-doubling of the current 27-inch iMac and Thunderbolt Display's 2560 x 1440 resolution is not ready for market.
9to5Mac's sources indicate the 12-inch Retina MacBook and the iMac are on pace to ship in late in the third quarter or in the fourth quarter, but could be pushed back to early 2015, which is in line with recent rumors about the 12-inch Retina MacBook. A report has suggested the notebook's launch will be pushed back due to continued Broadwell delays.
Rumors have also long focused on a possible Retina iMac and/or a 4K display, and back in June, hints of a Retina iMac were found in the OS X Yosemite beta. Less has been said about a potential 4K display in recent months, but an update to Apple's Thunderbolt Display is long overdue.
Along with new Macs, Yosemite's introduction may also include updates to both iMovie and Final Cut Pro to improve support for video captured with 4K cameras.
Intel's line of 14-nanometer Broadwell chips, which are expected to be included in future versions of the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro, and iMac, have been further delayed, reports Chinese site VR Zone [Google Translate] (via CPU World).
According to the site, while Intel will begin production on its extremely low power Core M processors in July and August for a 2014 launch, production on the U and H Broadwell chip series will not begin until much later in the year.
As a result, the Broadwell U 2+3 dual-core chips with GT3 (HD 5000 or Iris) graphics, likely slated for use in the MacBook Air and the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, won't be ready to ship until February of 2015. The Broadwell H 4+3e quad-core chips with Iris Pro graphics designed for the larger Retina MacBook Pro and iMac won't be shipping until July 2015 at the earliest.
Back in May, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised Broadwell processors for the 2014 holiday season, but it appears that the promised chips will be limited to the company's Core M processor series, used in ultra low power products like two-in-one computers. Broadwell chips suitable for Apple products will not make their first appearance until 2015, which Intel essentially confirmed to CNET in June.
"We expect the initial Broadwell-based devices, including fanless 2-in-1s built on the Core M processor, will be on shelves by the end of this year with more products and broader OEM availability in 2015," Intel told CNET on Wednesday.
Intel's Broadwell chips have seen several delays over the course of 2013 and 2014, and were originally slated to enter production in late 2013 before production was delayed until Q1 2014 and then Q3 2014. The delays are reportedly due to problems with the 14-nanometer process used to manufacture the chips.
Intel's continual Broadwell delays are likely impacting Apple's own release plans. Rumors have suggested Apple is planning a fall launch of a refreshed Retina MacBook Pro and a new 12-inch MacBook Air, but it is unclear which chips the company will use. Apple may only be able to offer a minor Haswell processor boost for the Retina MacBook Pro, which will be the only update the line sees until Broadwell is ready. Apple has already given the MacBook Air a Haswell refresh bump alongside a price drop with an update in late April.
On the desktop side, Apple introduced a new low-end iMac last month, but otherwise the lineup has not been updated since last September. The Mac mini has not even been updated to Haswell yet, with its last revision coming in October 2012. It is unknown why Apple has not released updated Mac mini models, as appropriate Haswell chips are readily available.
Intel's Broadwell chips are said to be 30 percent faster and more power efficient than Haswell, offering even greater increases in battery life and performance. According to Intel, the Broadwell delays will not affect the company's next line of processors, Skylake, as the chips are based on new architecture. Broadwell, however, will have a very short lifespan as Skylake has a prospective late 2015 release date.
While the $980 sale price is available to all customers until June 28, the extra $150 discount is part of Best Buy's current College Student Deals that run until July 12. You need a valid .edu email address and must sign up at Best Buy's website to be eligible for the extra student discount on all iMac and MacBook models.
The new entry-level 21.5-inch iMac includes a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of memory, and an Intel HD 5000 Graphics chip. The new iMac ships with the same ultra-low voltage Intel processor used in the current MacBook Air and scores similarly on benchmarks.
The $1,099 machine includes a 1.4GHz Dual-Core i5 processor from the MacBook Air, but users are permanently locked to 8GB of RAM. There is no build-to-order option to increase it and it cannot be increased later.
Now that we’ve had time to teardown the new iMac, unlike the $1,299 iMac, we found this iMac has the memory is soldered to the motherboard removing any possibility of adding additional memory. Users will be permanently locked in to the 8GB of memory, as there is no Apple factory upgrade option.
The other 21.5" iMacs, launched last fall, can be upgraded through the Apple Online Store from 8GB to 16GB. RAM can also be added after purchase, but it requires removal of the screen and is an extremely difficult upgrade.
The current 27" iMac, on the other hand, has a easily accessed door on the rear of the machine that allows for simple RAM upgrades.
Wednesday June 18, 2014 8:43 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Following today's launch of a new entry-level iMac model featuring an ultra-low voltage Intel processor actually used in the MacBook Air, the new iMac appears to have shown up in Geekbench's benchmarking database. The use of an ultra-low voltage chip in the iMac is a somewhat curious move for Apple, as the company has traditionally used much more powerful desktop processors in the line.
As expected, the new machine posts relatively low 64-bit scores of 2820 in single-core mode and 5435 in multi-core mode. These scores are marginally better than the 2690/5254 scores posted by the current-generation MacBook Air running the same chip and roughly 10% slower than the 3168 single-core score from the previous low-end iMac model, which remains available.
But where this new low-end iMac falls far short of the previous low-end model is in multi-core performance, where the older model clocks in at 10253. This major difference is due primarily to the chip used in the new low-end model being a dual-core chip, while the older low-end chip is quad-core.
The new low-end iMac comes in $200 cheaper than the previous entry-level model, but for that savings users will sacrifice some CPU and graphics performance and will have a 500 GB hard drive rather than the 1 TB drive included in the more expensive low-end model.
Update 12:25 PM: Primate Labs' John Poole has shared a blog post putting the new low-end iMac's performance in perspective compared to other iMac models and highlighting a Tweet from Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham noting that Apple's decision to use a chip from its MacBook Air line may have been made for graphics reasons.
I'd say Apple used an Ultrabook CPU in the new iMac to avoid shipping Intel's HD 4600 GPU in anything. No desktop CPUs include HD 5000.
Update 2: The initial benchmarks for the new low-end iMac were taken in 64-bit mode, while the data was compared to 32-bit results from other machines. This article has been updated to compare 64-bit scores across all machines.
Wednesday June 18, 2014 7:28 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
On the same day it launched a new entry-level iMac model, Apple also used the downtime to adjust the prices on other hardware in some European markets. The price cuts we've noticed affect European models of the Mac mini, the European Apple TV and iMac models in the UK.
Pricing on the Mac mini dropped between €30 and €60, depending on the country and model. Most European stores are now offering the entry-level Mac Mini for €619 with the quad-core and OS X server models selling for €819 and €1019, respectively, although some euro countries such as Germany are showing slightly lower pricing of €599/€799/€999. In the UK, the entry-level Mac Mini remains the same at £499, with price drops between €30 and €50 being applied to the quad-core and server models.
Apple also cut the prices on the Apple TV in Europe, reducing the cost by €10/£20. The once €109/£99 media streaming device is now available for €99/£79 throughout most of Apple's European stores. While Europe saw a reduction, the Apple TV price remains the same in the US at $99.
Along with the new entry-level 21.5-inch iMac, Apple UK also lowered the cost of existing iMac models. The existing 21.5-inch models were lowered by £100, while the 27-inch models saw similar reductions of £150. The reduction appears to limited only to the UK with most of Europe and the US still selling the iMac at its original pricing.
Wednesday June 18, 2014 5:08 am PDT by Richard Padilla
While rumors last week indicated that Apple would be launching minor updates to its iMac line, Apple today unveiled a new lower-cost 21.5-inch iMac starting at $1,099. Previously, the entry level iMac started at $1299.
The new entry-level 21.5-inch iMac comes with a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of memory, and an Intel HD 5000 Graphics chip for $1,099. Customers can also choose to include a 1TB hard drive, a 1TB Fusion Drive, or 256GB of flash storage on build to order options. All of Apple's other 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs are still available as well.
KGI Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted last year and earlier this year that Apple would be launching a lower-cost iMac in 2014 to bolster sales in critical foreign markets.
Apple is also rumored to be working on Retina Display-equipped iMacs, as recent evidence in the OS X Yosemite developer preview suggested such models were in the works. While there is no specific release date for a Retina iMac, Apple could launch the new desktop computer later this year.
Apple's new entry-level iMac is available today through Apple's various retail locations and online store, and shows an availability of "within 24 hours."
Update 5:41 AM: Apple has issued a press release announcing the lower-cost iMac.
Macworld's Jason Snell provides a nice hands-on writeup about Apple's new OS X Yosemite. Snell focuses on the user-experience from a long term Mac user, focusing on the visual and usability changes of Mac windows. He notes the increased use of transparency and the varying implementation of title bars in many applications:
Overall, Snell feels that many of the design changes were done with Retina displays in mind:
For a while now, I’ve thought that 2014 would be the year that Retina spreads across the Mac product line. After spending time with Yosemite on both Retina and non-Retina systems, I’m more confident than ever in that guess. Yosemite’s new design feels like it was built for Retina displays: Thin Helvetica Neue replaces the long-serving but chunky Lucida Grande as the system typeface.
Apple first introduced Retina displays into the Mac line in with the Retina MacBook Pro in June, 2012. Since that time, Apple has been slow to extend Retina screens to the rest of their lineup.
The MacBook Air seems likely to be the next Mac to deliver a Retina Display. Signs point to a 12" Retina model later this year, and there has already been early evidence in Yosemite of Retina iMacs in testing.
Tuesday June 10, 2014 11:42 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple is planning to update its iMac line with faster processors and lower prices next week, according to a new report from MacGeneration (Google Translate). Citing the same sources that correctly predicted the MacBook Air refresh this past April, the website also notes that Apple may also include Thunderbolt 2 ports on the new iMacs and will launch them later in the week instead of the usual Tuesday release day as done for other Apple products.
Like the MacBook Air refresh, Apple may be planning to increase the processor speed of at least some configurations by 100 MHz by using a number of recently launched processors, including the 3.3 GHz i5-4590, the 3.4 GHz i5-4690, and 3.6 GHz i7-4790 for the 27-inch model as well as the 3.0 GHz i5-4590S and 3.2 GHz i5-4790S for the 21.5-inch model. It is also possible that Apple will cut the price of the standard iMac configurations to go along with these minor spec bumps.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted last year and earlier this year that Apple would be launching a lower-cost iMac in the near future to address growth in foreign markets.
Meanwhile, recent evidence in the OS X Yosemite developer preview has also indicated that Apple is gearing up to launch Retina Display-equipped iMacs in the near future. It is possible that Apple may then initially move to split the iMac lineup, selling the Retina models at higher price points alongside cheaper non-Retina models. A lower price point for the non-Retina models may also help address growth in critical foreign markets such as China.
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