Intel has officially launched its new range of Ivy Bridge quad-core processors and some sources have revealed that Apple is busy eyeing up the new chips for use in its new range of iMacs and MacBook Pros, which are expected to be released this summer. Five new processors are due to be produced – three i5 varieties (with processor speeds ranging from 3.1 – 3.8 GHz) and two i7 varieties (with processor speeds ranging from 3.4 – 3.9 GHz).
Intel promises that the new processors offer around a 20 percent increase in performance with an average of 20 percent less power usage, a 5 to 15 percent jump in CPU performance over Intel’s previous processors, the Sandy Bridge range. The graphics performance has also been upped as well, with 4K video playback which supports a theoretical display resolution of up to 4,096 x 4,096 pixels, or retina display territory.
So what does this new release of processors mean for Apple? Well, we know that Apple are planning a major refresh to both its iMac and MacBook Pro line of products and it is rumoured that it has been eyeing up the Ivy Bridge range to feature in its new models. An Ivy Bridge processor would certainly support the resolutions required by a retina display and we have already seen some hints that Apple may be planning this, judging by the high-resolution icons in the Mountain Lion developer preview.
Ivy Bridge processors also support have direct on-chip USB 3.0 support, something which Apple computers still don’t support. This would allow theoretical transfer speeds of up till 5 Gbps (as supposed to the current speeds offered by USB 2.0 – a mere 480 Mbps), however this is unlikely as Apple will certainly be much more willing to push its own Thunderbolt system (which supports up to 10 Gbps of throughput, double that of USB 3.0), a feature which was introduced onto the entire MacBook Pro and iMac range back in February 2011.
Given the fact that both an iMac and MacBook Pro refresh is imminent, we can only assume that Apple is planning to marry the two together by this summer. However, even if we don’t get that retina display we’re all hankering after, it will certainly give our Mac a kick up the backside when it comes to speed, performance and graphics capability. And if that’s not a worthy upgrade reason, I don’t know what is.