Apple unveils new Mac Pro units, announces December ship date

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Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 10:34
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

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Apple’s new Mac Pro desktop has been revealed.

And it’s kinda pricey.

Per AppleInsider, Apple took the wraps off the last unannounced details on its upcoming Mac Pro desktop, namely price and release date at yesterday’s press event, with the professional-grade machine set to debut in December with a starting price of US$2,999.

The new Mac Pro is one-eighth the volume of the previous Mac Pro. It features Xeon E5 processors of up to 12 cores, as well as AMD FirePro graphics.

It also sports next-generation flash with a PCIe controller with up to 1.2GB/s reads, 1.0GB/s writes, and up to 1-terabyte capacity. Thunderbolt connectivity offers 20Gb/s throughput.

The new Mac Pro can drive up to three 4K displays with HDMI 1.4 support.

A new integrated motion controller also illuminates the input-output on the back when the device is moved.

A revamped version of Final Cut Pro X has also been developed by Apple, designed to take advantage of the horsepower of the new Mac Pro. As part of Tuesday’s presentation, quotes from audio and video professionals praising the device were shared after they had time to sample the hardware pre-release.

The base model of Apple’s next-generation desktop features a 3.7-gigzhertz Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12 gigabytes of RAM, dual FirePro D300 GPUs with 2 gigabytes of video RAM each, and a 256 gigabyte solid state drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple introduces Retina iPad mini, aims for November release date

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Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

Now THIS is the thing you’ve been hankering for.

Per Macworld, Apple announced a new iPad mini with Retina display at its press event on Tuesday, the company also lowering prices for the original iPad mini, giving its smaller tablet much-anticipated upgrades to its screen, processor, cameras, and more.

As hoped and expected—the new iPad mini with Retina display ups the screen resolution to Retina quality, going from 1024 by 768 pixels to 2048 by 1536 pixels at the same 7.9-inch (diagonal) screen size. This change raises the iPad mini’s pixel density from 163 pixels per inch to 326 pixels per inch—a density almost identical to that of the iPhone 5s.


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The new mini gets some upgrades on the inside, as well. Whereas the original mini used the same dual-core A5 processor, at the same clock speed, as the two-and-a-half-year-old iPad 2, the new mini line bumps its horsepower significantly by using Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor, similar to the one in the iPhone 5s. During Tuesday’s media event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said that the new processor makes the Retina iPad mini up to four times as fast as its predecessor for processor-intensive tasks, and up to eight times faster for graphics-intensive tasks. Like the new full-size iPad, the iPad mini with Retina display also features Apple’s M7 motion coprocessor, which can monitor the device’s various motion sensors (accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope) without having to wake the main processor.

The new mini also gains upgraded wireless capabilities thanks to dual Wi-Fi antennas and support for MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. Apple says this change allows the new iPad mini to communicate at up to twice the bandwidth: 300 MBps (megabytes per second). The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad mini also include expanded LTE capabilities, allowing them to work on more LTE networks around the world.

Apple has also upgraded the iPad mini’s cameras slightly. Though the resolution of those cameras hasn’t changed (5 megapixels for the rear camera, 1.2 megapixels for the front FaceTime HD camera), the company says the new iPad mini gains larger pixels and improved backside illumination sensors in order to take better low-light photos. In addition, the improved image-signal processing of the A7 processor should provide better overall camera performance.

Apple says the new iPad mini with Retina display offers the same 10-hour battery life as the original iPad mini. However, it appears that accomplishing this feat while adding the additional power drain of a Retina display required Apple to increase—ever so slightly—the size and weight of the new iPad mini. The new version is exactly the same height (200mm) and width (134.7mm) as the original, but it’s a tiny big thicker (7.5mm compared to 7.2mm) and a little bit heavier: 331 grams versus 308 grams for the Wi-Fi model, and 341 grams versus 312 grams for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

The iPad mini with Retina display will be available in silver/white or Space Gray/black “later in November,” according to Apple. The Wi-Fi versions will retail for US$399 for 16GB, US$499 for 32GB, US$599 for 64GB, and US$699 for 128GB—a first in that capacity for the iPad mini. Cellular versions add US$130 to each: US$529, US$629, US$729, and US$829, respectively.

By all accounts, the original iPad mini has been a big hit for Apple, even though other small tablets, such as the latest Nexus 7, have debuted with better specs or lower prices. The new iPad mini line should blunt some of that spec-sheet-based criticism.

Along with the new iPad mini units, the company is keeping the original iPad mini around—in a single configuration—as a lower-price option. Specifically, the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini is now priced at US$299, rather than its original price of US$329, with the Wi-Fi + Cellular version at US$429. The cellular version is available for the U.S. networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Apple did make one minor change to the original iPad mini: It’s now available in Space Gray or Silver, rather than the original black or white. It is available now.

Both iPad mini versions (Retina and non-Retina) ship with iOS 7 installed, and—as with all devices running iOS 7—allow you to download Apple’s iLife and iWork suites for iOS free of charge.

Finally, Apple announced new cases for its new Retina iPad mini. The new iPad mini Smart Cover, made of polyurethane, will sell for US$39. A new leather iPad Smart Case will cost US$69.

As always, let us know what you make of this and if Apple delivered what you wanted or if improvements could be made.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro notebooks, offers $200 drop from previous price points

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Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:59
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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If you were hoping for a cool new Apple notebook from today’s media event, this might be it.

Per Mac|Life, Apple VP of Marketing Phil Schiller announced significant updates for the 13- and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros. Schiller announced that the 13-inch version is now both thinner and lighter, clocking in at 3.46 pounds and .71 inches thin.

The new notebooks also feature a Haswell chip, Iris graphics, all of which makes it up to 90 percent faster. All total, that deliver nine hours of battery life, enough, Schiller said, to watch Christopher Nolan’s entire Dark Knight saga in one go. But with all those improvements, Schiller had some other good news. The new MacBook Pro will sell for US$1,299, marking US$200 drop from before, and it’s even shipping today.

Schiller then moved on to discuss the 15-inch version, which has 2.4GHz Core i5, 4GB ram and a 128GB SSD, which is also shipping today. The new unit includes Crystalwell chip with Iris Pro graphics with the option to add a GeForce 750M. Additional specs include around 8 hours of battery life, PCIe Flash, 802.11ac, and Thunderbolt 2. The 15-inch unit also saw a price decrease–it now sells for US$1,999, down from US$2,199, and is also shipping today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Pro notebooks in late October, next-gen Mac Pro in mid-November

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, October 19th, 2013, 22:36
Category: Hardware, iPad, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The upcoming MacBook Pro and Mac Pro rumors are coming in thanks to the French.

Per French web site MacG.co, Alleged availability dates for some of Apple’s anticipated upcoming products were reported on Tuesday, pegging new MacBook Pros to launch in just over a week, with the revamped Mac Pro desktop apparently set to debut in mid November.

The site has stated that the new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will be available for sale either Oct. 24 or 25. It’s expected that Apple’s new professional-grade notebooks will feature Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors, which offer significant savings in power consumption, thus improving battery life.

As for the new Mac Pro, which Apple already gave a sneak peek at earlier this year, the site claims that the new desktop will be available for delivery on Nov. 15.

The site also claims that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will go on sale either Oct. 30 or 31. It’s unclear whether that would be the date orders would begin, or if the devices would be available to physically have in hand.

The iPad dates are somewhat suspect, as Apple traditionally launches new iOS products on Fridays. For example, last year the Wi-Fi-only versions of the first-generation iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale Nov. 2, on their way to total sales of 3 million total units in the first three days of availability.

Apple is expected to announce dates for multiple new products at a media event anticipated for Oct. 22. With that date just a week away, it’s likely that invitations to members of the press will be sent out later today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-generation iPad, iPad mini 2 to feature 8 megapixel cameras, Sony to function as exclusive sensor supplier

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 3rd, 2013, 07:42
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

You can’t say the rumor mill isn’t interesting.

Per AppleInsider and a recent report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s iPad and iPad mini will both sport 8 megapixel rear cameras with new lens elements from Genius and Largan. It’s also been rumored that the sensor modules will be provided solely by Sony.

In his note to investors, Kuo predicts Apple will launch the so-called “iPad 5″ and “iPad mini 2″ later in quarter four, with upgraded 8MP shooters and enhanced lens elements. Separately, an inside source tells stated that Sony nabbed all sensor orders bound for the next-generation tablets.

With the new Sony sensors, Apple will bump resolution to 8MP, up from 5MP in the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini. The boosted specs will be a first for Apple, which traditionally fields tablets with cameras comparatively lower in resolution than the flagship iPhone.

The source did not specify what type of module will be used, but it can be speculated that Apple will employ a backside illuminated component, possibly with larger 1.5-micron pixels, as seen in the iPhone 5s.

As for Kuo’s report, the analyst believes Apple will rely on camera upgrades to further differentiate the iPad from competitors in a tablet market becoming increasingly crowded with high-spec Android devices.

Apple’s previous ace in the hole, the Retina display, has been effectively implemented by a number of other manufacturers. Most recently, Amazon’s 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX tablets boast pixel densities of 323 ppi and 339 ppi, respectively, much higher than the 264 ppi found in Apple’s fourth-generation iPad.

Along with the sensor upgrade, Kuo notes the iPad 5 will sport an updated five-element lens module with larger aperture manufactured by Genius Optics and Largan. The two firms are responsible for the optics used in Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c.

Finally, Kuo forecasts shipments of the iPad 5 at 1.2 million units and 10.5 million units for the third and fourth quarter, respectively. The iPad mini 2 stands at zero units in quarter three and 2.1 million units in quarter four. This last metric aligns with a report earlier today that claimed the mini would see severe supply constraints if launched this year.

This is all speculation at this point, but please stay tuned for additional details as we get them.

Chipworks continues examination of A7 processor, finds new architecture, quad-core GPU

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Date: Monday, September 30th, 2013, 07:57
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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There’s some cool stuff going on with the iPhone 5s’ new A7 processor.

Per an analysis published by Chipworks, the A7 contains assorted changes from the previous A6 processor, including the addition of a mysterious SRAM cell never seen in A-series silicon.

Continuing its comprehensive investigation of the new A7 SoC, which on Tuesday confirmed a 28nm manufacturing process, silicon experts at Chipworks are digging deeper into the processor’s major structures and overall design.

The firm notes in the report that the latest findings are currently just “best guesses,” as circuit extraction testing has not yet been performed to yield conclusive data.

Taking the caveat into consideration, one of the more interesting findings would be the “secure enclave” used for Touch ID fingerprint data storage that Apple discussed during the iPhone 5s reveal earlier this month.

Chipworks was unable to identify a given area it had noted, but guesses that a new SRAM cell located above the GPUs is a prime suspect as the rather large storage space is a new addition to the A-series lineup. Extrapolating the size of the memory block and comparing it with metrics of known technology, the firm estimates the SRAM module to have a density of about 3MB.

Moving to the CPU, the A7′s dual-core unit and accompanying memory, estimated at 1MB for L2 cache and 256KB for L1, takes up about 17 percent of the die area. Located across from the CPU setup is a quad-core GPU with shared logic, which accounts for 22 percent of on-die space.

A side-by-side comparison of the A7 and last year’s A6 show the chips’ CPUs do not share the same layout. The new A7 appears to be closer to a conventional automated design, which would be a departure from Apple’s most recent custom-architected A-series SoCs.

Aside from the above discoveries, the rest of the A7′s design appears to be carried over from the A6. Of note, the USB, LCD and camera interfaces are identical to those found in Apple’s A5, A6 and A6X chips.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iHS iSupply support states Retina Display “iPad Mini 2″ may not ship in 2013

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Date: Friday, September 27th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, News, Rumor

The next-gen iPad mini may not possess the fabled Retina display, or at least the yield numbers on production may not be quite high enough yet.

Per AppleInsider, and CNET, a report published on Thursday claims Apple may not be planning to release a Retina display iPad mini alongside an expected next-generation “iPad 5″ next month, citing low manufacturing volumes unsuitable for mass shipments.

According to IHS iSuppli’s supply chain checks, the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad is on track for an October launch, but production of a high-resolution iPad mini is “>not yet at levels that would indicative of a simultaneous release, reports CNET.

“The Retina Mini looks less certain for that time,” said IHS iSuppli’s director of Tablet and Monitor Research, Rhoda Alexander. “Manufacturing volumes on that would match better with a Q114 [first quarter 2014] launch.”

Alexander qualified the statement by noting Apple may introduce such a device in October with the fifth-generation iPad, but could choose to ship it at a later date.

The publication notes that, while analysts have discussed Retina panel yields, they claim mass production could be less than optimal for a 2013 launch. In either case, it appears that Apple will likely be face with supply constraints, a situation that has become increasingly familiar for the company.

Earlier this year, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Retina display yield issues would push back Retina iPad mini production until October. In a more recent report, the analyst predicted the “iPad 5″ and “iPad mini 2″ would both see release in the fourth quarter of 2013, with Apple pushing up the mini’s launch date due to increased competition in the sector.

All should be revealed in the coming weeks, as Apple is rumored to be planning a special event next month to introduce a revamped tablet lineup.

Stay tuned for additional coverage and, as always, let us know what you think in the comments section.

iSuppli runs numbers, finds $199, $183 build costs for iPhone 5s, 5c handsets

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Date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, 07:47
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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If you’re wondering how much Apple’s new iPhone handsets cost to manufacture, they’ve got a number.

Per AllThingsD, a forthcoming IHS iSuppli report posits that Apple spends at least US$191 on components to build a 16GB model of the iPhone 5s and between US$167 and US$176 for a low-end iPhone 5c. Those prices are just a few dollars lower than what Apple spent in order to build the iPhone 5 according to iSuppli’s year-ago report on that device. The firm adds another US$8 in assembly costs for the iPhone 5s, while iPhone 5c assembly tacks on another US$7 to assemble, giving full construction estimates of US$199 for the 5s and between US$173 and US$183 for the 5c.

The iPhone 5, released in 2012, cost Apple about US$205 to produce and sold for between US$649 and US$849 off-contract. Apple saves about US$13 to produce the new high-end iPhone, even considering its beefed up processor and biometric sensor, and Apple sells it for the same price point.

Memory capacity plays a part in the price of an iPhone, with the jump from a 16GB module to a 64GB module adding US$19 to the component cost, plus another US$8 in assembly.

The display components are among the biggest cost contributors for the device, though, amounting to US$41 out of the component cost. IHS believes that Apple’s displays came from a number of vendors, including Sharp, Japan Display Inc., and LG Display.

The use of a polycarbonate shell for the iPhone 5c helps Apple drop the component cost of what is essentially an iPhone 5 even further. Whereas the iPhone 5 was machined from a single piece of aluminum in a costly process, Apple spends only US$173 to build a 16GB iPhone 5 model and US$183 to build the 64GB model.

IHS’ look at the new iPhones seems to agree with some observers’ opinion that the iPhone 5s, despite the addition of a number of technologies, is more of an incremental progression over its predecessor.

“I would say that they’re almost the same phone,” said IHS analyst Andrew Rassweiler, “except for that the 5s has the fingerprint sensor, the A7 processor and some newer memory chips that consume less power. Beyond that, they’re basically the same.”

The lower production cost per unit could work in Apple’s favor going forward. The Cupertino company recently revised its guidance for the September quarter after selling more than nine million new iPhone units in the launch weekend. Part of that guidance revision was to orient investors to look toward the upper range of its previous estimate, possibly due to the improved margins on its hot-selling new devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated iMacs, incorporates Haswell processors, PCIe architecture, 802.11ac Wi-Fi into new models

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Date: Tuesday, September 24th, 2013, 07:40
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

It’s not a huge change for the iMacs, but it’s the bump you’ve been waiting for.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday issued an update for its all-in-one iMac desktop, bringing Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors, speedy 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Nvidia’s new GeForce 700 series graphics.

The new iMac also sports faster PCIe flash storage options to boost performance. It comes in the same thin design debuted by the company last year.

The entry-level 21.5-inch iMac features a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and new Iris Pro integrated graphics. It starts at US$1,299.

The high-end 21.5-inch model and both 27-inch models feature quad-core Intel Core i5 processors up to 3.4 gigahertz and Nvidia GeForce 700 series graphics with twice the video memory and up to 40 percent faster performance than the previous generation.

Apple’s new top-of-the-line iMac is a quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.5 GHz and Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M series graphics with up to 4 gigabytes of video memory. It starts at US$1,999.

The updated iMac also supports next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi. When connected to an 802.11ac base station, iMac delivers wireless connectivity up to three times faster than the previous generation 802.11n.

Apple’s new iMac also features support for PCIe-based flash storage that makes Fusion Drive and all-flash storage options up to 50 percent faster than the previous generation. Fusion Drive option combines the large storage capacity of a hard drive with the high performance of flash to deliver shorter boot times and faster access to apps and files. Customers can configure their iMac with a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte Fusion Drive, and all-flash storage options are now available in configurations up to 1 terabyte.

iMac comes standard with 8 gigabytes of memory and a 1-terabyte hard drive, and customers can choose to configure their iMac with up to 32 gigabytes of memory and up to a 3-terabyte hard drive. iMac also comes with two Thunderbolt and four USB 3.0 ports for connecting to external storage and other high performance peripherals.

iMac also meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves an EPEAT Gold rating. The desktop features LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iMac includes PVC-free components and cables, contains no brominated flame retardants, and uses highly recyclable materials and material-efficient packaging designs.

iMac ships with OS X Mountain Lion, bringing Messages, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, AirPlay Mirroring, Dictation, Game Center and Gatekeeper security.

The new iMac is available today through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The 21.5-inch iMac is available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz and Intel Iris Pro for a suggested retail price of US$1,299; and with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M for a suggested retail price of US$1,499.

The 27-inch iMac is available with a 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 755M for a suggested retail price of US$1,799; and with a 3.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.8 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M for a suggested retail price of US$1,999.

If you pick up a new iMac within the new couple of days and have any feedback to offer about your experience, please let us know in the comments.

iPhone 5s’ 64-bit A7 processor shows possible road map for Apple’s future

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Date: Monday, September 23rd, 2013, 14:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Software

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If nothing else, the iPhone 5s and 5c launches – and the processors within – offer a glimpse of things to come down the line.

More to the point, they show a future without Intel.

Per Jason Perlow’s excellent column over on ZDNet and pointed out the us by reader Robert Snow, the piece brings up the notion that no one really expected to see a 64-bit System on a Chip this soon and that the term “Desktop Class”, which was being thrown around, seems appropriate and not just hype.

The article also points out that the biometric authentication that Apple is incorporating with its new Touch ID system requires a significant amount of CPU horsepower to pull off without being sluggish, as would strong end-to-end VPN encryption, both of which are likely necessary for the iPhone to continue to attract corporate attention. This, also with increased image-processing power that can push gaming console-quality graphics similar to those found on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 show that 64-bit mobile architectures are ready for the prime time.

The piece also makes the strong argument that this is where Apple wants to be with its processors and that perhaps Intel – and its mobile offerings – may be left behind, as ARM’s offerings show a more mature platform that various development environments can converge towards.

Take a gander at the article, see what you make of it and, as always, please let us know what you think in the comments.