Ivy Bridge Processors Released, New Mac Range Coming Soon?

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 announced their new range of Ivy Bridge processors on Monday and there are rumours that they will feature in the upcoming iMac and MacBook Pro range

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.


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  • So long as there isn’t a re-design, I won’t be upgrading. My mac cycle is usually every 1 1/2 years for laptops and 2 1/2 years for desktops. I maxed out my RAM on my iMac to 16gb and tai don’t use it for gaming or any real 3D design (just web development) and so long as it supports the next 2 OS versions without getting sluggish, I don’t plan on changing any sooner.

    Seriously though, who needs more than 2560×1440? I know it’s all about screen real estate but with more windows open, they will just be smaller but more crisp. And seeing as most iMacs already suffer from dead pixel issues, I would imagine that adding more might cause more problems.

    • Generally I agree,

      As for needing more than 2560×1440, I do (or at least desire it). I believe many photographers who deal in medium format sensors desire larger screens and resolutions for editing.

  • “however this is unlikely as Apple will certainly be much more willing to push its own Thunderbolt system”

    Isn’t Thunderbolt from Intel too – Apple just being one of the few (the only?) to have gone down that road?
    They should add USB 3.0 anyway, I don’t see much Thunderbolt stuff in the wild (or maybe I’m not looking enough), and I personally think it’s going to die.

    • Thunderbolt is actually becoming more and more common for hardware in video production. There are several raid systems that support thunderbolt, card readers, and even some new cameras will have built in thunderbolt support.

      To bad Mac Pro’s don’t have thunderbolt…yet anyways.

    • You can find a comic book series called “Thunderbolts” from Marvel Comics. ;)

  • I fully expect that a MacBook refresh is imminent, with Ivy Bridge and higher-resolution displays. I hope that they don’t handle it like the iPhone/iPad, with the pixel doubling, though. I would rather be able to take advantage of the extra resolution than to have a display with the exact same real estate, but with more crispness. (Plus, the 90% of media not designed for a high density display would just look crappy…) Laptops usually sit far enough away from your face that it’s not much of an advantage, anyway.

    USB 3.0 support also seems likely. Thunderbolt (which is an Intel standard, by the name of Light Peak) is more of a long-term thing than USB 3.0, and currently used more by pro users with expensive high-speed storage systems. I suspect it will catch on more later down the road, but it’s not like its something most peripherals need or will support any time soon. It’s max throughput will dwarf USB 3.0 eventually, once the fiber-optic implementation is available. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_Peak

  • There’s no reason not to add USB 3. If they didn’t add USB 3, they’d still have USB 2 “competing” with Thunderbolt. Either way, USB 2 and 3 devices are much easier to find, and much cheaper. Only thing i’d use Thunderbolt for is maybe an external SSD.

  • It would be stupid for them to not incorporate USB 3. It comes supported by default on the Ivy Bridge chipset, so for Apple to not have it would mean they were intentionally stripping that functionality. In previous versions, they’d have to use additional hardware to support USB 3, but they won’t need to now. I would be amazed if they didn’t use it.