Apple releases firmware updates for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro, iMac units

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 06:27
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never quite works perfectly until the updates hit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week released a series of updates for its newest MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac desktops equipped with the high-speed Thunderbolt port, addressing issues related to performance and stability.

Two updates are available for MacBook Pro owners: MacBook Pro Software Update 1.4, a 132.69MB download, and MacBook Pro EFI Update 2.1, a 3.06MB download. Both are available direct from Apple’s website or via Software Update.

Update 1.4 is said to include fixes that improve graphics stability, address issues with external display support and 3D performance, and also improve Thunderbolt device support.

Meanwhile, EFI Update 2.1 includes fixes that resolve an issue with Turbo Mode in Boot Camp, and improves performance and stability for graphics and Thunderbolt. A user’s power cord must be connected and plugged in to a working power source when applying this update, as it updates the EFI firmware on the MacBook Pro.

Owners of the new iMacs just released this week get Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for iMac (early 2011) 1.0, a 382.56MB download, and iMac EFI Update 1.6, weighing in at a 6.1MB download. The Mac OS X update applies a number of fixes for the Snow Leopard operating system, including:

- Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

- Resolves an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

- Addresses various minor Mac App Store bugs.

- Addresses minor FaceTime performance issues.

- Addresses issues with graphics stability and 3D performance.

- Improves external display compatibility.

- Improves Thunderbolt device support.

Finally, the iMac EFI Update 1.6 includes fixes that improve the performance and stability for the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. The update will restart any iMacs it is installed on, at which point a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update.

Apple has already quickly released a handful of updates for its new iMac desktops. On Tuesday, when the all-in-one computers first went on sale, a Boot Camp update was also available for download.

Apple updated its iMac line on Tuesday, adding faster Sandy Bridge Intel quad-core processors, a FaceTime HD camera, and the new Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt debuted in February in Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pros.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any significant changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Boot Camp update for Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs, throws in Magic Trackpad for free on 27″ model

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 03:06
Category: iMac, News

Apple on Tuesday quickly released an update to address issues with Boot Camp on its new iMacs. Per AppleInsider,
buyers of the newly released Thunderbolt-equipped iMac can download Boot Camp 3.2 Update for iMac direct from Apple. The 638KB update can be downloaded from here and is only applicable to the early 2011 model iMacs.

Apple said the update addresses issues with Japanese and Korean keyboards on the early 2011 iMac. Boot Camp is Apple’s software that allows users to install Windows 7 on their Intel-based Mac.

Apple issued a similar fix in April for its new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro models. That update also addressed shutdown issues, but some users reported it caused problems with adjusting the screen brightness.

In other news, customers can now choose between the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad when ordering a unit from the web site. Previously, the Magic Trackpad, which was released last July, had to be purchased separately.

Customers who want both a Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad can have both for an additional US$69. And the wired Apple Mouse is an option as well, available at no extra cost.

The new iMacs released on Tuesday also include the option of a solid state hard drive in both the 21.5-inch and 27″ models. Custom orders built with the second flash-based drive will have Mac OS X and applications installed by default on the faster solid-state drive. The second, 7200rpm, traditional hard drive can then be used to store media and files.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped 2011 iMacs

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 09:57
Category: iMac, News

It’s kind of fun when the rumors are true.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple announced a new generation of iMac models, running at speeds up to 3.4 GHz and powered by the next generation of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The models also build in support for the new Thunderbolt high-speed peripheral connection interface that debuted in Apple’s MacBook Pro line earlier this year.

In terms of processors, Apple has shifted to Intel’s second-generation Core technology—codenamed “Sandy Bridge”—for the iMac line. “What Intel has done is very tightly engineer the processor, the graphics, the cache, and the memory controller on a single die,” said Apple’s David Moody, vice president of hardware product marketing. Moody said this accelerates transfer between processor components, resulting in some impressive performance gains.

In addition, the processor architecture upgrade has enabled a transition to quad-core processor configurations across the iMac line—in comparison, the previous iMac line had only a single quad-core configuration on the highest-performance model.

“Even in the top-end, moving from the old quad-core configuration to the new quad-core configuration has seen 30 percent faster performance,“ said Moody.

The desktop line now sports the latest generation of AMD Radeon HD discrete graphics processors. The high-end Radeon HD 6790M boasts 1.3 Teraflops of performance and is up to 80% faster than the previous generation. Moody described the technology as “Mac Pro-class graphics” and said it’s the “first time we have the same level of performance in the iMac that you’d have in a Mac Pro.” The gains aren’t limited to high-end either; even the entry-level version’s Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor clocks in at three times faster than the previous configuration.

For external connectivity, the new iMacs boast the same Thunderbolt ports introduced in its new MacBook Pro line released in February. Co-developed with Intel, Thunderbolt offers two bi-directional channels that can transfer data at up to 10Gbps each—12 times faster than the theoretical maximum of FireWire 800. The technology is based on the PCI Express protocol that most Macs use for internal I/O, but via adapters it can support pretty much any other type of connectivity protocol, including FireWire, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The smaller iMac sports a single Thunderbolt port while the larger version includes two—Moody confirmed that those ports are independent as well, meaning that users essentially have four 10Gbps channels. That allows, for the first time, the 27-inch iMac to drive two external displays—and that’s in addition to other high-speed peripherals. Moody also said that the adoption of Thunderbolt is progressing, with several vendors announcing plans for compatible peripherals at the NAB show last month.

As with the MacBook Pro refresh also earlier this year, the iMac line also now has a FaceTime HD camera for video conferencing. The camera can supports 720p high-definition video in a 16 by 9 widescreen format, and supports a wider viewing angle to make it easier for multiple people to get in the picture. High-definition video calls are only supported between Macs with a FaceTime HD camera, such as the iMac and MacBook Pros—calls with other Macs, or iOS devices are limited to standard definition.

The new machine comes in four basic configurations: two 21.5-inch models with a 2.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 processor respectively, and two 27-inch models with a 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel i5. Apple is also offering build-to-order Web-only options to bump the 21.5-inch model to a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, and the 27-inch model to a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7; the i7 processor upgrades add US$200 to the cost.

The low-end 21.5-inch model sports a 500GB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB of video RAM, while the more powerful 21.5-inch configuration has a 1TB hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM. Both versions feature a 1920 by 1080 pixel display and 4GB of memory. They retail for US$1,199 and US$1,499 respectively.

Both of the 27-inch models sport a 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560 by 1440 pixel display. The 2.7GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB of video RAM, while the 3.1GHz model has an AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB of video RAM. They retail for US$1,699 and US$1,999 respectively.

Additional build-to-order options include 2TB hard drives, an additional 256GB solid-state drive alongside the main drive, and up to 16GB of DDR3 memory. Customers can choose between a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad with their order.

If you’ve snagged a new iMac, let us know when it arrives and what you make of it and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt-equipped iMac on Tuesday, May 3rd

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Date: Monday, May 2nd, 2011, 07:42
Category: iMac, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple will be adopting Intel’s newest family of Core processors and integrating a Sandy Bridge architecture into its iMac line as early as next week.

More specifically, Apple is said to be en route to introduce the new models on Tuesday, May 3, swapping out the systems’ first-gen Core i processors and mini Display ports for second-generation Core i chips and the company’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port. However, rumors that 2011 would see changes to the iMacs’ display panel size (1, 2) and the inclusion of 6000-series AMD Radeon HD chips, could not be confirmed with any degree of certainty.

In the days leading up to major product launches, Apple routinely makes certain requests of its various operating segments to assure the rollout goes as smoothly as possible. This week saw several of those measures put into place, according to those same people, who’ve continually provided accurate information when it comes the Mac maker’s future plans.

In addition, people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s retail operations confirmed to AppleInsider that a “visual night” is similarly slated for the early morning hours of May 3rd. “So it is highly likely that whatever new product that is going to be refreshed or introduced will be done on [that day],” one of those people said.

These visual nights see several Apple retail employees in each location work throughout the evening and early a.m. hours, making significant modifications to the product layouts on the showroom floors, often removing previous generation products in favor of newly introduced models.

For Apple, next week’s launch will mark the first time the company has refreshed its flagship desktop line in over 9 months. It also comes at a crucial time for the iMac — and Mac desktops in general — which are rapidly approaching an all-time low when it comes to their share of the Mac’s product mix.

As Apple slowly transitions into a full-fledge mobile company, desktops have seen their share of Mac shipments slip into a slow but inevitable decline, falling from more than 50% of the company’s Mac product shipments in the first quarter of 2006 to just 26% of the total units Mac units shipped during the second fiscal quarter of 2011 (see graph below).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and an iMac running Sandy Bridge with a Thunderbolt port, you’ve got to admit that sounds nifty…

Apple releases Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for Mid-2010 iMacs

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Date: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 04:37
Category: iMac, News

Late Monday, Apple released its Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for the 21.5″ and 27″ mid-2010 iMac desktops. The update, an 819 kilobyte download, fixes a hard drive issue that may prevent some iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2010) systems from booting properly.

Users will need an Intel-based iMac running Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run the update.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Rumor: Apple may release updated iMacs alongside next-gen MacBook Pro notebooks in near future

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Date: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011, 09:36
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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In addition to introducing new MacBook Pro notebooks, a new unsubstantiated rumor claims Apple this week may also release an updated iMac all-in-one desktop with a modified screen size.

Per DigiTimes, Apple may launch its new iMac desktop alongside new MacBook Pro models. The report said Apple “may make some changes over the screen size to allow panel cutting to reach its optimization.”

While a flurry of reports have surrounded the anticipated MacBook Pro update, little has been said about an iMac update. In fact, the last indication of an iMac refresh came from the same publication in December 2010, when it said that Apple could release its new iMac in the first half of 2011. That report said the new iMac would have a “new panel size and price point for the mainstream market.”

Apple’s iMac line of desktops were last updated in July 2010 with Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 processors and ATI Radeon graphics. The current lineup has a starting price of US$1,199.

In the article, DigiTimes added even more support to the belief that new MacBook Pros will launch before the end of February, likely this Thursday. The publication said that most IT malls in Taiwan do not have any MacBook Pro inventory in stock, but added that volume shipments of the new notebooks will not pick up “significantly” until March.

The MacBook Pro lineup is even more due for an update than the iMac, as Apple’s high-end notebooks have not seen an update since April 2010. The systems were updated to what were then Intel’s latest high-end Core i7, Core i5 and Core 2 Duo mobile processors.

Rumor: Apple to release redesigned MacBook Pro, iMac units in first half of 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 16th, 2010, 06:44
Category: iMac, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Since it’s the rumors that keep you hankering for new technology, here we go:

Per Taiwanese technology industry publication Digitimes, sources from “upstream component makers” indicate that Apple will introduce the upgraded models in the first half of next year.

The Mac maker reportedly plans to launch “at least four upgraded MacBook Pros” with a “slight change” in chassis design and an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The upgraded iMac is expected to feature “a new panel size and a price point for the mainstream market,” according to the report.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at the “Back to the Mac” event in October. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will incorporate features brought back to the Mac from iOS, such as App Home Screens, full-screen apps, and expanded multi-touch gestures. According to Jobs, Apple will release Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the summer of 2011.

The first day of summer in 2011 is June 22, which would fit within the first half of 2011 timeframe from Digitimes’ most recent report. The report’s sources believe that the MacBook Pro upgrades will help Apple’s notebook shipments grow 30-40 percent year over year in 2011.

Other details were sparse in the report, however, next year’s Macs are generally expected to utilize Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Intel reportedly plans to formally unveil the new processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5th, 2011.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced in July that the company had decided to accelerate production in response to the “very strong reception” of Sandy Bridge CPUs by the chipmaker’s customers.

Rumor points to touchscreen displays for next-gen iMacs

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Date: Monday, October 4th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iMac, Rumor

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With rumors of a new generation of iMac on the horizon, one of the more interesting details has pointed to a potential new touchscreen display for the upcoming desktop.

Per DigiTimes, component supplier Sintek Photronics has sent samples of capacitive touch panels to Apple for a new touchsreen all-in-one iMac desktop computer. The report claimed that the new hardware will have screen sizes of 20″ and greater.

“The new iMac is rumored to have a good vertical and horizontal viewing angle, and its projected capacitive touch panel will adopt a one-glass solution, which integrates the touch sensor and cover glass, to reduce thickness and weight,” the report said.

It noted that most touch panels are made by placing the sensor over the panel, and are then covered with glass. But it is said this method is costly, complex, and results in a dimmer screen.

It was said that Sintek Photronics “has a good chance” of becoming a supplier for the alleged new line of iMacs. No projected release date for the rumored hardware was given.

In January of this year, rumors indicated that a 22″ touchscreen iMac would launch this year. But the claims in Friday’s report that Apple is still testing touch panels would suggest that a 2010 launch is not likely.

A number of patent applications from Apple this year show touch-capable iMac-style desktop computers. One interesting filing shows a machine that could operate in a traditional format, but with a hinge on the back that would allow it to be tilted for easier access for a user’s fingertips.

Another application described a desktop screen that could detect shapes and objects pressed against it. It described a machine that would allow new types of input, such as a security system that required a physical key to be pressed against the screen and detected.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iMac (Mid 2010) Display Brightness Update 1.0

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Date: Friday, August 13th, 2010, 03:34
Category: iMac, News, Software

newimac.jpg

Late Thursday, Apple released the iMac (Mid 2010) Display Brightness Update 1.0 for its current 21.5″ iMac desktops.

The update, a 378 kilobyte download, addresses an issue with 21.5-inch iMac (Mid 2010) display brightness.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature on qualifying hardware.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Apple releases updated iMac models, includes Core i3, i5, i7 processors, ATI graphics cards

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 06:32
Category: iMac, News

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After weeks of anticipation, Apple on Tuesday refreshed its iMac line, bringing Intel’s Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors, along with ATI Radeon graphics to the new machines.

Per AppleInsider, the new models begin at US$1,199 and boast dual-core processor speeds up to 3.6 GHz, quad-core speeds up to 2.93 GHz and discrete graphics including the ATI Radeon HD 5750.

Dual-core Intel Core i3 and Core i5, and quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 bring the best performance yet to the iMac line, Apple said. The processors feature an integrated memory controller to access the system memory directly, allowing the new iMac to take full advantage of its faster 1333 MHz memory.

A new feature, the updated iMac displays feature IPS technology to deliver images across a wide 178 degree viewing angle.

The SD card slot on the iMac now supports the SDXC format to handle the latest high-capacity storage cards. Customers of the 27″ iMac have the option to order a 256GB solid state drive (SSD) as a primary or secondary drive. The iMac SSD supports up to 215 MB/s data transfer rates for faster startup and application launch times.

The new iMac line is shipping now and available through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The new 21.5″ 3.06 GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, for a suggested retail price of US$1,199 (US), includes:
- 21.5″ 1920 x 1080 LED-backlit display;
- 3.06 GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache;
- 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM expandable to 16GB;
- ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics with 256MB GDDR3 SDRAM;
- 500GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
- Slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
- Mini DisplayPort for audio and video output (adapters sold separately);
- AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
- iSight video camera;
- Gigabit Ethernet;
- Four USB 2.0 ports;
- One SDXC SD card slot;
- One FireWire 800 port;
- Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
- Wireless Apple Keyboard, Magic Mouse.
- Configure-to-order options include up to 8GB of RAM.

The new 21.5″ 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, for a suggested retail price of US$1,499 (US), includes:
- 21.5″ 1920 x 1080 LED-backlit display;
- 3.20 GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache;
- 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM expandable to 16GB;
- ATI Radeon HD 5670 discrete graphics with 512MB GDDR3;
- 1TB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
- Slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
- Mini DisplayPort for audio and video output (adapters sold separately);
- AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
- iSight video camera;
- Gigabit Ethernet;
- Four USB 2.0 ports;
- One FireWire 800 port;
- One SDXC SD card slot;
- Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
- Wireless Apple Keyboard, Magic Mouse.
- Configure-to-order options include a faster 3.6 GHz Core i5 processor, 2TB hard drive and up to 8GB of RAM.

The new 27″ 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, for a suggested retail price of US$1,699 (US), includes:
- 27″ 2560 x 1440 LED-backlit display;
- 3.20 GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache;
- 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM expandable to 16GB;
- ATI Radeon HD 5670 discrete graphics with 512MB GDDR3;
- 1TB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
- Slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
- Mini DisplayPort for audio and video input and output (adapters sold separately);
- AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
- iSight video camera;
- Gigabit Ethernet;
- Four USB 2.0 ports;
- One FireWire 800 port;
- One SDXC SD card slot;
- Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
- Wireless Apple Keyboard, Magic Mouse.

Configure-to-order options include a 3.6 GHz Core i5 processor, 2TB hard drive, 256GB solid state drive (SSD) and up to 16GB of RAM.

The new 27″ 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US), includes:
- 27″ 2560 x 1440 LED-backlit display;
- 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache;
- 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM expandable to 16GB;
- ATI Radeon HD 5750 discrete graphics with 1GB GDDR5;
- 1TB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
- Slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
- Mini DisplayPort for audio and video input and output (adapters sold separately);
- AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
- iSight video camera;
- Gigabit Ethernet;
- Four USB 2.0 ports;
- One FireWire 800 port;
- One SDXC SD card slot;
- Built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
- Wireless Apple Keyboard, Magic Mouse.

Configure-to-order options include a 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor, a 2TB hard drive, 256GB solid state drive (SSD) and up to 16GB of RAM.

Additional accessories include: Magic Trackpad, Apple Battery Charger, wired Apple Mouse, wired Apple Keyboard, wired Apple Keyboard with numeric keypad, Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter, Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (for 30-inch DVI display), Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, Apple Remote, the AppleCare Protection Plan; and pre-installed copies of iWork, Logic Express 9, Final Cut Express 4 and Aperture 3.

If you happen to snag one and have any comments about it, please let us know.