updated 07:50 am EST, Wed November 19, 2008
Quad Core iMac in January
Apple is waiting on a special round of Intel chips to update its iMacs with quad-core processors, according to claims by PC makers. The California company is reportedly hinging its move on a new set of desktop Core 2 Quad processors due in January that are specifically power-optimized for all-in-one desktops, dropping the thermal peak power from a too-high 95W down to 65W. They would have the same performance characteristics as existing processors and include a 2.33GHz Q8200 with 4MB of Level 2 cache, a 2.66GHz Q9400 with 6MB of cache and a 2.83GHz Q9550 with the full 12MB of cache.
In addition to the two extra cores, which would significantly improve the performance of iMacs for multi-core aware tasks, the systems would also have a faster 1,333MHz system bus and would be significantly less expensive on average than the dual-core mobile processors Apple has used to date. The 2.33GHz, 2.66GHz and 2.83GHz chips cost $245, $320 and $369 in large batches, according to the report.
A move to desktop-class processors would be uncharacteristic for the Mac producer, which has so far depended on the lower power and heat of mobile Core 2 Duos both to keep the iMac casing slim and to reduce the amount of necessary cooling; readers should be cautious before accepting the claims. However, an optimized processor potentially mitigates these problems while letting Apple either trim costs or upgrade other components of the system.
If accurate, the news would see Acer, Dell and HP also join Apple in launching either all-in-one or small form factor desktops based on the new Core 2 Quad variants, with ASUS also mulling a decision of its own. Dell would most likely use the chip for an update to the XPS One while HP would likely update its TouchSmart PCs with the new chips.