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iMac Gets Thunderbolt I/O, Quad-core 437

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lookit-all-dem-ports dept.
fergus07 writes "Apple's desktop lineup has typically pushed users requiring plenty of fast I/O towards the Mac Pro — but the latest iMac refresh has broken the tradition. Quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs and faster ATI Radeon HD GPUs are welcomed, but it's the addition of Thunderbolt ports (one in the 21.5-inch and two in the 27-inch) that really ups the ante for a number of professional users."
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iMac Gets Thunderbolt I/O, Quad-core

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe a future version of the iMac will even have Blu-Ray.
    • What use case would adding a BD-ROM or BD-R drive solve that isn't already solved by Netflix streaming, iTunes streaming, or external hard drives?
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        > What use case would adding a BD-ROM or BD-R drive solve that isn't already solved by Netflix streaming, iTunes streaming, or external hard drives?

        What happened to Apple products being for "non geeks". Most "non geeks" simply aren't going to relate well to your attitude and probably want a spinny disk.

        BD-ROM happens to be the modern spinny disk format.

        Apple is suppose to be the "media platform". They even bundle "media apps" with the OS. So "what gives" with trying to ignore today's most common high def

        • Most "non geeks" simply aren't going to relate well to your attitude and probably want a spinny disk.

          The impression that I get from CronoCloud and others who post comments to Slashdot is that most non-geeks aren't going to want to use a TV as a computer monitor. Instead, they'll continue to watch BD movies on their dedicated consumer electronics appliances.

          • Pretty sure there are oodles of people who buy a macbook (with free ipod) prior to heading off to college and become long term home apple users.

            It seemed pretty much par for the course in college that a significant amount of people didn't own a TV. In the dorms, everyone watched movies on computers and a lot of people kept doing that for all 4 years. It is petty not to include the bluray drives since there are tons of people who would pay for the upgrade to use them (same for travel use).

            • by retchdog (1319261)

              students steal their movies, and apple knows this. no blu-ray necessary.

            • It seemed pretty much par for the course in college that a significant amount of people didn't own a TV.

              College students probably have broadband. They can get movies on Netflix or iTunes, no spinny disc required.

              • by slyrat (1143997)

                It seemed pretty much par for the course in college that a significant amount of people didn't own a TV.

                College students probably have broadband. They can get movies on Netflix or iTunes, no spinny disc required.

                Right, and you know what makes netflix great? The fact that you can get physical discs, like bluray or dvd. I know I would be fairly annoyed if I couldn't watch physical disc media when I was in college. I didn't do it often, but it certainly happened. There isn't a good reason to remove it from their new computers / laptops.

                • by tepples (727027)

                  There isn't a good reason to remove it from their new computers / laptops.

                  Other than perhaps the current BD drives are too thick [slashdot.org] to fit in the unibody case.

                • Lots of people really don't care about blue ray. I have no plans to own it, nor do most people I know. It's a niche market and will most likely stay that way.
            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              It seemed pretty much par for the course in college that a significant amount of people didn't own a TV. In the dorms...

              Wow...things must have changed a LOT since I was in school. We pretty much ALL had tv's in college. Of course this was before most people had a personal computer, and no such thing as the internet....but we all had TV's.

              • If there wasn't internet, and very few PCs, then yes, a LOT has changed since you were in school!
              • by cpu6502 (1960974)

                >>>We pretty much ALL had tv's in college

                I went to college during the "transition" period (pre- Web Mosaic and post-mosaic). When I arrived everyone used TVs, VCRs, and antennas. If you wanted to use a computer, you went to the computer lab.

                When I left TVs still existed, but antennas were replaced with direct cable hookups, and Computer Labs were somewhat empty, because students now had direct internet to their dorm PCs.

                As an adult I still have a TV (with antenna), but it sees less and less usage

            • Re:TV vs. computer (Score:5, Interesting)

              by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:45PM (#36012314)

              Anon. Coward writes:
              >>>ATSC? what a pile of garbage, and MPEG-2?! COME ON! At least the EU got h.264 from the start

              h.264 aka MPEG4 didn't exist when ATSC was finalized in 1996 and broadcasts started in 97. They used the best codec available at the time of development.

              Could have been worse. The Japanese version of HDTV was developed in the early 80s and isn't digital at all. It's an analog format called MUSE which occupies 3 channels to send one single program. - The US could have easily been stuck with that same format, if the FCC had followed Reagan's directive to copy it.

              As for the other issues, "overscan" was developed because everyone was still using CRTs in the 90s. The mid-90s engineers had no idea that flat screen LCDs would be able to display a viewable picture. (Back then most lcds were crap.) And 1080i is based off the original japanese standard.

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            Considering Netflix now has more subscribers than Comcast, I am not at all sure that is true, because I would venture that most Netflix customers use streaming.

            • Considering Netflix now has more subscribers than Comcast

              But does Netflix have more subscribers than Comcast, TWC, Mediacom, and all other local cable monopolies combined? Unlike Comcast, Netflix's area of operation is the entire United States of America.

          • by tibit (1762298)

            I think that Apple may need time to work all the wrinkles out of whatever authoring setup they'll provide for BDs in OS X. This isn't something that you can do overnight. The hangup could be something as simple as poor support from drive vendors, demonstrated poor firmware quality, etc. Of course Apple has the momentum to pretty much get what they want. At the end of the day it's still engineering time, and in many cases you can't really throw more engineers at the problem just as throwing more mothers at p

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I'm pretty sure that H.264 is todays most common high definition video format, not BluRay, and I'm pretty sure that there is a significant proportion of the population getting along fine without BD-ROM functionality.

          Not saying it wouldn't be a nice-to-have, but its far from required. Infact, in any of the PCs I have built or bought in the past three years, not once did a thought occur to me to even consider BluRay as a capability to include.

          Apple don't give a damn about BluRay, they have iTunes - thats the

          • I partially agree here, only bluray drive I have is in my htpc... and part of me regrets not getting a hybrid for burning DVDs, which I've done in the living room more than I've watched blurays so far.. That and getting the surround sound to work is a total PITA!!!! it worked for a while, then the software updated, and hasn't worked since. :( I like surround sound more than the extra definition of video from dvd to blueray myself.
            • by Lumpy (12016)

              7.1 surround on a XBMC box running linux was easy as pie. Why do you windows people have so much trouble with surround? does windows try and block it? you should just pass through the digital audio to the Surround decoder in the amp.

          • I have BluRay in the ps3 and about 3 films for it.

            If I want HD content I'll watch a DVD and drink beer. I may be able to tell the difference; but I just could not care. I can also watch a VHS tape that flickers at the top and bottom. Just top me up with a bit more HD juice and it's all good.
            If I do not have any beer when watching, no amount of pixels help. I'm beginning to think the content and not the definition may be the problem!
          • by d3vi1 (710592)

            Blu-ray is a method of distribution, H.264 is a video codec. Most blu-ray releases actually use H.264 as a codec. Furthermore, nobody is stopping you from buying a USB blu-ray disk. Regarding the integrated drive, while on the laptops it's not feasible because there are no 9.5mm slot loading SATA blu-ray drives, on the iMac and (possibly) on the mac mini you can upgrade to blu-ray because you can fit a 12.7mm drive in them.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            News flash....

            Blu Ray is AVCHD or H.264 and mpeg2

            BluRay is a media format not a video format.

            • To you and the other posters that made the same comment - go to my original post, click "Parent" and read the post I replied to for the context of my reply.

              Its quite enlightening - in it, you will find this little sentence:

              They even bundle "media apps" with the OS. So "what gives" with trying to ignore today's most common high definition video format?

              See how the post that I replied to used the term "video format". See how that puts my comment in context? The mistake was made, but it was not made by me.

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>I'm pretty sure that H.264 is todays most common high definition video format, not BluRay

            But Bluray IS h.264 format.
            The nice thing about bluray is that it won't get erased, like a file downloaded from iTunes can be. Bluray is a convenient backup method.

            Also buying a Bluray doesn't impact my ~150 GB download cap.

        • I have a Mac and 25 down / 5 up connection. I don't need BluRay. In fact I don't need DVD either. I don't understand why MacBooks still have optical media drives at all. I've probably used the DVD Drive on the Mac maybe 10 times in 3 years. I'd much rather have more battery, or an SSD/HD combo than an optical drive...
          • OptiBay [mcetech.com], there are also clones out on eBay.

            Hands down the best upgrade I ever made to my MacBook Pro. Plus I got a 100GB SSD in the main spot and then a 640GB traditional drive for the OpticalBay slot.

            I don't have anything in my house that takes spinnig media. New machines boot from USB & most major installers support iso loopback (as does grub). TV & Movies are easily provided by through Netflix, iTunes, Usenet, Torrents, etc.

      • by TyFoN (12980)

        Sending HD quality family videos to family that they can just pop into the bdr under the tv. But macintosh never was a content production platform was it? ;)

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Sending HD quality family videos to family that they can just pop into the bdr under the tv. But macintosh never was a content production platform was it? ;)

          There are Blu-Ray-on-DVD-R standards for that, actually. It's a Blu-Ray formatted movie on a DVD, because BD-R discs are still expensive compared to the cheap DVD recordables you can buy.

          Plus, Blu-Ray's a horrendous format. Your best shot at getting a BD-R working in a generic BD player is use the BDAV profile. Using BDMV (what Blu-Ray movies use) with

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Why?

          Sending HD quality family videos is easier on a USB drive. Most decent players have a USB plug and play AVCHD from a thumb drive perfectly. I'd never waste the time to author a BD-ROM and the freaking menu that is required. make the movie and ship it on a el-cheapo 1 gig stick.

          And yes , if you home movie is over 1 gig, it's too long.

        • by Americano (920576)

          Funny, I thought that Blu-Ray was just a delivery method. You mean without Blu-Ray, you can't produce a high-def video and, say, upload it to Youtube, or Facebook, or Vimeo or any of the literally dozens of other file-sharing services out there for your family to watch/download from?

          I think you've confused "content production" and "content delivery". The macs may lack a single kind of content delivery mechanism out of the box - Blu Ray drives. That does not mean it's impossible - or even marginally more

      • Accessing Blu-Ray disks.

        • by tepples (727027)

          What use case would adding a BD-ROM or BD-R drive solve that isn't already solved by Netflix streaming, iTunes streaming, or external hard drives?

          Accessing Blu-Ray disks.

          Please allow me to rephrase: What use case would Blu-ray discs solve that isn't already solved by Netflix streaming, iTunes streaming, or external hard drives?

          • Watching a movie that's not on your external hard drive when the network link is down? =;-)

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              Watching a movie in better quality. Getting the alternate audio tracks. Getting the subtitle tracks. Having access to something that isn't being streamed by Netflix yet because it is too new.

              There are plenty of reasons to not restrict yourself to the Apple view of the world.

              Most people simply aren't a member of the cult and will be doing things contrary to all of the silly remarks made by fanboys.

          • 1- my country-dwelling parents can't even watch SD ADSLTV because their ADSL link is too bad. I'm sure they could download HD movies in no more than a couple/handful of days, but sometimes watching movies is, you know, a spur-of-the-moment thing ?

            2- Also, they're not much into computers, so teaching them to backup their movies to an external HD, wait till copying is finished, eject, grab the HD + the data cable + the power cable, check with their friends that they have what it takes to read their disks...

            • by tepples (727027)

              3- also, some people do not have a computer connected to their TV

              There you go. The country-dwelling parents' BD player will probably be a dedicated BD player connected to the TV through HDMI, not a Mac computer.

      • "Hey, let's do Movies night and bring our favorite BD !" ?

      • Playing Blu-Ray discs, for one.
      • In the case of movies, neither NetFlix nor iTunes are streaming 1080p. And I have yet to see anybody distributing movies on external hard drives.

    • by toriver (11308) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:14PM (#36011892)

      Especially since you can count the number of PC models shipping with a Blu-Ray drive on one hand. Now that spells demand.

      I am sure the few people who need a Blu-Ray can buy themselves an external drive (e.g. LaCie has one). Especially if they start coming out with Thunderbolt connectors.

    • by jitterman (987991)
      Very funny post - but in seriousness, not likely because (eventual) utter lack of optical drives will herd all the Apple drones into purchasing all of their apps via the App Store.

      Not that it hasn't been said before, but that 1984 commercial is certainly ironic in light of the current state of Apple.
  • by demonbug (309515) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:02PM (#36011750) Journal

    For those (like me) that had no idea what Thunderbolt is, apparently it is the new name for what was formerly known as Light Peak [wikipedia.org].

  • Okay now just put that in a Minitower case with PCIe slots, sata connectors, and lots of Dimm slots. Sell it for under $1000 dollars.
    I know that Apple doesn't need that machine because they are making money hand over fist but there is a big gap between the iMac and the MacPro in expandability. Maybe we could call it the iMac II ?

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      What do you need PCIe slots for in this time and age, particularly when Light Peak faster than than SATA (and both are faster than any existing HD) and can drive displays?

      I think you want something from the Alienware catalogue. Apple doesn't build for ricers.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > What do you need PCIe slots for in this time and age

        $10 upgrade vs. a $2000 upgrade.

        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          I guess PCIe slots are better for powering your in-case chaser LEDs, liquid intercooler and cup holder, while still giving you ample on-host full power USB ports to power your coffee warmer, Arduino-based 3D milling machine and Dr. Who talking Dalek commemorative snow globe.

          • by djdanlib (732853)

            That's your power supply's job, bus (if any) is irrelevant.

            • by iluvcapra (782887)

              Yeah but there's only so many pins on the header :) It's not really a question of load, it's the holes people use to juice their googaws in the first place. I definitely note a predilection of customizers to prefer gobs of PCIe slots, and maybe they'll rarely put a RAID adapter in one of them, but the rest are there to provide extra +3 rails to power their, uh, bling.

    • by 2ms (232331)
      Funny you should mention this because the elimination of need for all those slots and connectors is precisely one of the most compelling things about Thunderbolt.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Maybe in the future but so far we are stuck with a single Thunderbolt port. Some how I do not think that you would want to put a RAID and a high end GPU on a single Thunderbolt port.
        Even if you did would want all those extra boxes spread out on your desk? A benefit of a tower or mini tower is a place to put stuff and a power supply.
        So would you want to set up a RAID and a high end graphics card externally?

        • by vijayiyer (728590)

          These new 27" iMacs have 2 Thunderbolt ports.

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Better but then you are going to have to spend money on a RAID enclosure and I still have not seen any external graphics adapters yet. Internal Thunderbolt ports could replace SATA ports that I will give you. I just do not want to go back to the old Mac days of external hard drivers and Box after box plugged into the SCSI port. Just swap out SCSI and replace with Thunderbolt.

    • PCI Express slots? Thunderbolt is external PCIe along with DisplayPort. SATA? Thunderbolt is faster than even SATA 6G, and there's already a Thunderbolt hard drive [gizmag.com]. Who knows? Someone could come out with an eSATA card connecting to the Thunderbolt port.
    • Look everybody! He's beating a dead horse! Look at those twitching legs go!
  • Great news for those wanting to install Snow Leopard on their Sandy Bridge machines. It was imperfect early on (involving setting busratio flags amongst others) but now that MacOS is officially supported on the 2nd generation Cores it should make for a smoother Hackintosh experience.

    Mind you, the fact it's taken Apple four months to catch up isn't impressive. If hobbyists could run it on day one of the new chips being released, I don't see why Apple couldn't have prepared for it sooner...
  • It looks like Thunderbolt is a sure thing on Apple machines in future. Apple hasn't included USB3 in any of their machines and USB3 has been very slow to grow. Hopefully, when Apple includes a new interface it significantly encourages its adoption by others. There's some precedent in the history of USB prior to USB3. And Apple hardware characteristics has more influence on market than it probably ever has in the past. Excited for Thunderbolt!
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      USB uptake on PCs was a function of Intel bundling USB for free on all of it's motherboards. The fact that Apple Corp left it's legacy users in the lurch really had nothing to do with it.

      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:35PM (#36012148)

        USB uptake on PCs was a function of Intel bundling USB for free on all of it's motherboards. The fact that Apple Corp left it's legacy users in the lurch really had nothing to do with it.

        Which is why for several years there all USB devices shipped only in bondi blue to match the look of the iMac? Sorry, but Apple basically created the mainstream USB peripheral market before the PC market caught up and started using them as well.

      • by willy_me (212994) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:42PM (#36012262)

        USB uptake on PCs was a function of Intel bundling USB for free on all of it's motherboards. The fact that Apple Corp left it's legacy users in the lurch really had nothing to do with it.

        Sure it did. When Apple released their iMac there was a rush to release peripherals to support them. Before that nobody really cared about USB despite the fact that it was present on the majority of PCs. People were fine with serial and parallel ports - there was simply insufficient reasons to switch to USB. Remember that USB 1.0 (or 1.1) was not actually that fast and came with a pile of driver issues (due to how new it was). It also added to the work that the CPU was required to do, something that is irrelevant today but quite relevant for a p200.

        So Apple did jumpstart the USB market. Not that it would not have happened eventually on it's own, Apple just made it happen sooner. Their actions caused peripheral manufacturers to adopt the standard sooner then they would have liked to. Remember those early devices? Most were standard serial/parallel devices with a built in USB to serial/parallel converter. Ugly, but necessary if they wanted a piece of the iMac peripheral market.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          Revisionist history? I thought Apple was very, very anti-USB and pro-firewire? Heck the first iPod didn't even interface to USB (and therefore couldn't talk to anything but macs). That's how anti-USB apple was initially.

          • Revisionist history? I thought Apple was very, very anti-USB and pro-firewire? Heck the first iPod didn't even interface to USB (and therefore couldn't talk to anything but macs). That's how anti-USB apple was initially.

            No, not revisionist history at all. Apple was never anti-USB for the types of low speed devices USB 1 was originally designed to handle. Firewire was for significantly higher bandwidth applications of the type USB wasn't originally designed for.

            This would be why Apple never released a Firewire mouse or keyboard. You have to recall when USB was originally introduced, it's fastest speed was only 1.5Mbps -- it wasn't until USB 1.1 that "high speed" mode was introduced, running at 12Mbps. Firewire 1 on the other hand, was 400Mbps -- or about 33 times faster. Where USB 1 was painful for external storage, Firewire flew.

            This was the situation Apple faced when the iPod 1 was released (which, I should point out, was a Mac-only device at the time, as iTunes hadn't been ported to Windows yet, and the formatted file system out of the box was HFS). They had a choice between slow USB 1 (USB 2 was standardized at the end of 2001. The iPod 1 was released in October 2001, so at the time the iPod 1 was released, virtually all USB ports on consumer machines ran at a maximum of 12Mbps), or fast Firewire 1.

            So it was purely about speed -- a device that could store up to 10GB of data (iPod 2's, released in July 2002, could store up to 20GB) needed something faster than 12Mbps. By the time USB 2 become more ubiquitous, Apple released the iPod 3 (April 2003) with USB sync support.

            None of which indicates anything about being anti-USB; USB simply wasn't up to the task when the first two generations of iPod were released, whereas Firewire was.

            Yaz.

      • by njfuzzy (734116)
        Interesting memory you have there. Because mine clearly includes a first wave of USB devices that were ALL "bondi blue" to go with the first generation iMac. By the time the PC manuacturers came on board, a lot of accessories already existed thanks to a market Apple created. The commodity PC market-- sorry, WinTel world-- may have benefited from "free" USB on Intel motherboards, but it didn't hurt that Apple made sure devices already existed for those ports.
    • This is the third display port standard Apple have used in 4 years - I wonder if they are considering sticking with this one for any length of time?

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        I have 3 separate video port dongles for 3 slightly different versions of the same Mac model released over a couple of years.

        Cheap PC nettops have been a bit of a step up in this regard.

      • by njfuzzy (734116)
        I may be wrong, but I think this one is backwards compatible with the last one. It basically adds all of the other connections to mini-DVI, doesn't it?
      • by jht (5006)

        Not really - Thunderbolt uses the same plug and is electrically compatible with mini DisplayPort. They've just added more functionality to the connector. And mini DisplayPort has been the spec for a few years now in Apple gear, so it should last a while to come now that it's also used by Thunderbolt.

        Other than that, the Mac mini supports HDMI out as well as mini DisplayPort. Until a couple of years ago, things were kind of in transition as the world moved away from VGA and into digital video out. Now things

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        This is the first one that can't be fixed with a $10 adapter, they might be stuck with it for a while. What's on the back of their displays right now?

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      To watch it die on the vine in the general consumer space like firewire and be relegated to a few niche markets... That should be Exciting...

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @12:16PM (#36011914)

    I'm glad to see Apple rolling out Thunderbolt to their whole lineup and not restricting it to the high end. Anything they can do to promote this and get it mainstream for all computers will be a benefit to the industry and end users. Tangles of cords, switching cords, and unchainable unintelligent standards have been hampering us for too long. No, I don't want to have to have a computer in between my video camera and my high capacity storage drive. No, I don't want to have more than one cable between my monitor and computer and yes I want to plug USB devices, microphones, hard drives, etc. to the device on top of my desk instead of climbing under it. The throughput and flexibility here has been needed for a long time. Come on industry, full speed ahead with this one!

    • To add to all the above, thunderbolt allows bus power at 10W. Compared to USB2 (2.5W maximum), and USB3, (4.5W max), this is a big improvement (eSata doesn't even supply power without the eSATAp connector, which isn't fully adopted). Thunderbolt will natively fast-charge an iPad (when Apple releases a tbolt connector or hub) and many other such devices.

      Of course, the bus power situation on firewire was much better (30V x 1.5A = 15W), but alas, we'll have to do with 10W, as Apple migrates everyone over fr

  • So it's a new laptop with some pretty unremarkable new features. This article is different from the 100 other "latest new product" offers that arrive in my junk email box, how? ...apart from the fact it's on Slashdot and not in my junk email folder of course.

  • Yep, if you want fast I/O like eSATA you have to get a Mac Pro.
    Oh, wait ...

  • by wjousts (1529427)
    Why would somebody buy a computer from a phone company?
    1. Actual hardware temperature control (so the iMac doesn't commit heat death on a grey screen of death, white screen, or net boot)
    2. Real wake on lan, like the big boys. You know, send a magic packet and it wakes from an off state. Barring this, at least allow a wake-time that doesn't rely solely on MacOSX (if you boot into windows and shut down, the scheduled wake up currently is removed)
    3. larger fans. There's no good reason to use those jet turbine fans when a slightly more open back and a few 120mm fans w
  • by Sitnalta (1051230) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @07:22PM (#36018028)

    The only thing that exclusivity deals accomplish is to limit consumer choice and allow competitors the opportunity to get ahead (see: the iPhone.) From a marketing standpoint limiting Thunderbolt to Apple increases the value of the Mac, when in reality it chokes off the 3rd party ecosystem, and makes the port into a mostly useless esoteric novelty. Like Firewire-800.

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