WWDC 2017: One Small Step for the iMac, One Giant Leap for the iMac Pro

Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2017 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: wwdc, imac pro, imac, apple, all-in-one

In a product-packed WWDC keynote Monday afternoon, Apple announced significant hardware updates to its all-in-one iMac desktop line. After letting the product line go without updates since late 2015, Apple is finally bringing Kaby Lake to its standard iMac models and, as rumored, will be launching a new high-end "iMac Pro" model in December.

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iMac

The now "normal" line of iMacs received a range of expected feature updates, including USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 support, and new discrete GPU options from AMD.

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The 21.5-inch 4K iMacs will be configurable with Radeon Pro 555 and 560 GPUs with up to 4GB of VRAM, while those opting for the 27-inch 5K iMac will be able to choose from the Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580 with up to 8GB of VRAM.

The Radeon Pro 580, coupled with software and API improvements coming as part of the next version of macOS, "High Sierra" (no, seriously), was specifically called out as being ready to power a new era of VR experiences and content creation on the Mac, thanks to Apple partnerships with Valve (Steam VR), Unity, and Epic (Unreal Engine 4).

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Other new features available on the iMac include higher official RAM limits (32GB for the 21.5-inch model and 64GB for the 27-inch), faster NVMe flash storage (up to 2TB capacities), two Thunderbolt 3 ports (which will support Apple's new external GPU initiative), and improved displays (higher maximum brightness, 10-bit dithering, and greater color reproduction).

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The starting price for the new iMacs ranges from $1,099 to $1,799 and they're available for order today at Apple's website.

iMac Pro

By far the more interesting Mac-related announcement from today's keynote is the new iMac Pro. Although it shares the same basic design as its "non-Pro" counterparts, it features an improved dual fan cooling system that Apple claims is able to accommodate much higher end hardware than has previously been available in an iMac.

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This includes Xeon CPUs ranging from 8 to 18 cores, up to 128GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, up to 4TB of flash storage that Apple rates at a speed of 3GB/s, graphics options powered by AMD's upcoming Vega platform, and, to power it all, a 500 watt power supply.

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The new iMac Pro will also include four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports (compared to just two on the non-Pro models), as well as 10Gb Ethernet (NBase-T), making it not only the most powerful iMac, but also the most powerful Mac yet, as Apple continues to let its Mac Pro line languish in the midst of future promised updates.

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The iMac Pro's hardware is already quite pricey before you factor in Apple's 5K display, design, and "Apple Tax," so those familiar with the company won't be shocked to learn that this new flagship Mac will start at $5,000 when it launches this December.

Source: Apple

Rumor: Apple to Use Custom AMD SoC for Next-Gen iMac

Subject: Processors | October 19, 2015 - 11:28 AM |
Tagged: Zen, SoC, processor, imac, APU, apple, amd

Rumor: Apple to Use AMD SoC for Next-Gen iMac News about AMD has been largely depressing of late, with the introduction of the R9 Fury/Fury X and Nano graphics cards a bright spot in the otherwise tumultuous year that was recently capped by a $65 million APU write down. But one area where AMD has managed to earn a big win has been the console market, where their APUs power the latest machines from Microsoft and Sony. The combination of CPU and a powerful GPU on a single chip is ideal for those small form-factor designs, and likewise it would be ideal for a slim all-in-one PC. But an iMac?

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Image credit: Apple

A report from WCCFtech today points to the upcoming Zen architecture from AMD as a likely power source for a potential custom SoC:

"A Semi-custom SOC x86 for the iMac would have to include a high performance x86 component, namely Zen, in addition to a graphics engine to drive the visual experience of the device. Such a design would be very similar to the current semi-custom Playstation 4 and XBOX ONE Accelerated Processing Units, combining x86 CPU cores with a highly capable integrated graphics solution."

Those who don't follow Apple probably don't know the company switched over almost exclusively to AMD graphics a short time ago, with NVIDIA solutions phased out of all discrete GPU models. Whether politically motivated or simply the result of AMD providing what Apple wanted from a hardware/driver standpoint I can't say, but it's still a big win for AMD considering Apple's position as one of the largest computer manufacturers - even though its market share is very low in the highly fragmented PC market overall. And while Apple has exclusively used Intel processors in its systems since transitioning away from IBM's PowerPC beginning in 2006, the idea of an AMD custom APU makes a lot of sense for the company, especially for their size and heat constrained iMac designs.

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Image credit: WCCFtech

Whether or not you'd ever consider buying an iMac - or any other computer from Apple, for that matter - it's still important for the PC industry as a whole that AMD continues to find success and provide competition for Intel. Consumers can only benefit from the potential for improved performance and reduced cost if competition heats up between Intel and AMD, something we really haven't seen on the CPU front in a few years now. With CEO Lisa Su stating that AMD "had secured two new semi-custom design wins" In their recent earnings call it could very well be that we will see Zen in future iMacs, or in other PC all-in-one solutions for that matter.

Regardless, it will be exciting to see some good competition from AMD, even if we will have to wait quite a while for it. Zen isn't ready yet and we have no indication that any such product would be introduced until later next year. It will be interesting to see what Intel might do to compete given their resources. 2016 could be interesting.

Source: WCCFtech

Apple brings OS X Lion to the masses

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2011 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: osx, macbook, mac, lion, imac, apple

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Mission Control (Courtesy of Apple)

Apple released their latest operating system dubbed OS X Lion today that includes more than 250 new features the company states will make dramatic improvements to how users interact with Apple's entire line of computer systems. The $29.99 upgrade includes several new features like multi-touch gestures, full-screen apps, a new Mission Control section, and a new location for Mac apps called LaunchPad.

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LaunchPad (Courtesy of Apple)

Apple expanded OS X's ability to view installed applications through a new program called Launchpad. Launchpad allows users to see all of their apps on one screen gives you instant access to all the apps on your Mac. Previously, loaded apps were viewed in a smaller window and now Launchpad will use all the screen real estate more efficiently to show users all their apps at one time. 

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Apple Mail (Courtesy of Apple)

OS X Lion also showcases a redesigned Mail program that uses a widescreen view to show message lists in modular sections that are more intuitive to read and use. Another section called Conversations gives users a basic timeline to show threads of messages from specific people. The revamped program also includes search suggestions and search tokens to make finding archived or buried e-mails alot simpler than clicking around for them.

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Apple Server (Courtesy of Apple)

Another interesting feature Apple added is the OS X Lion Server that provides more control over user and administerator permissions versus the previous Server app. This program can basically turn almost any Mac into a basic server with secure options for remotely managing computers running Lion and other iOS devices like iPhones and iPad2s. Server admins can also send updates to all their users wirelessly through push notifications. Apple also made many improvements to the OS's file sharing options and to other programs like Wiki Server, iCal Server and Mail Server.

The OS X Lion upgrade can be purchased from the Mac App Store or online at Apple.com for $29.99. The entire download weighs in at around 3.49GB, which is a pretty significant update that should give many users more flexibility in how their use and interact with their Apple systems.

Source: Apple