Industrial designer Jonathan Ive left with additional power/privileges after Steve Jobs’ death

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Date: Friday, October 21st, 2011, 06:41
Category: Hardware, News

If you’re on your way out, leave someone behind to protect your ideals and legacy.

And if that person is less than conventional but has created some of the coolest industrial designs of the past 13 years, all the better.

Per the Associated Press, Apple’s widely praised design chief Jonathan Ive has no true boss who can tell him what to do at the company, a distinction put in place by Steve Jobs himself.

Information from the new biography of Jobs, set to arrive next week, continues to arrive, offering a glimpse into the highly private life of the Apple co-founder. The news wire obtained an early copy of the book, and shared some details on the relationship between Jobs and Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design.

In talking with author Walter Isaacson for the book, Jobs revealed that he viewed Ive as his “spiritual partner” at Apple. Showing his trust in Ive, the company co-founder left him more freedom than anyone else in the company — a perk that remains even after Jobs’s death.

“He told Isaacson that Ive had ‘more operational power’ at Apple than anyone else besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do,” the report said. “That, says Jobs, is ‘the way I set it up.’”

Ive and Jobs became close at Apple, working directly together on designing a number of the company’s core products, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Ive, a 44-year-old native of London, joined Apple in 1996 and has held his current job since 1997.

Showcasing their extensive work together, Jobs and Ive share credit for inventing over 200 patents. Jobs is responsible for the most total patents at the company, at 313.

A 2006 profile of Ive said that at the time he and his team worked in a large, secretive open studio that many Apple employees were not allowed to enter. There a “massive sound system” played music as he and his team worked with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment with “intense iteration.”

Ive has been heralded as one of the most influential designers of his time, and legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams publicly praised him in the 2009 documentary Objectified. In return for his design work at Apple, Ive has been well compensated, and is said to be worth more than US$128 million.

In 2009, Ive was declared the “smartest designer” in technology by Forbes. He was also honored with the title “Designer of the Year” in 2003 by Design Museum London, and was named “Royal Designer for Industry” by The Royal Society of Arts.

More details on the relationship between Ive and Jobs will be available in Isaacson’s book, arriving next week. Entitled “Steve Jobs,” will be available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally through Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBooks.

iFixit finishes teardown of Thunderbolt display, locates 2009 LG panel

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News

When in doubt, count on someone geekier than you to dissect Apple’s newest hardware.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the screen has found.

The new display, powered by Apple and Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, was disassembled this week by iFixit. They found that the LG display is model number “LM270WQ1,” matching the previous iMac as well as the screen found in Dell’s competing UltraSharp U2711 27-inch monitor.

However, Apple’s display uses LED backlights for better picture quality and lower power consumption, as opposed to the cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) found on Dell’s screen. In addition, the Dell display is matte, while Apple’s is glossy.

The solutions provider also noted that Apple’s screen has a 12 millisecond response time and 17.7 million colors, while Dell’s competing panel offers an advertised 6 millisecond response time and 1.07 billion colors.

iFixit found that the glass front of the new Thunderbolt Display can be removed with “heavy duty suction cups,” just like with Apple’s iMac lineup. The LCD screen sports a resolution of 2,560-by-1,440 pixels.

“The fan is easily removed by simply detaching a couple of connectors and unfastening a few screws,” they said. “Apple has, as usual, chosen to go with a large, brushless fan to keep the colossal Thunderbolt Display cool and quiet.”

Inside the display, iFixit found a plethora of chips, causing them to remark that “it’s hard to believe there’s no computer inside.” The screen includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, 2.1 speaker system, integrated MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Some of the chips inside powering all of those features include:

- Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller

- L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller

- Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor

- NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller

- Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter

- SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller

- Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier

- LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface

- Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller

- Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC

The teardown also discovered that the speakers inside the Thunderbolt Display are 49 watts with a miniature subwoofer. In addition, the Flextronics power supply is said to provide 250 watts of maximum continuous power.

If you’ve snagged a new Thunderbolt display and have any feedback about it, please let us know in the comments.

Apple exploring issues between Thunderbolt, Cinema Display hardware

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Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:04
Category: Hardware, News

Sometimes the newest stuff doesn’t always work the way you’d like it to…

Per AppleInsider, a growing discussion thread on Apple’s boards is filled with users who have experienced issues with their 24-inch Cinema Displays when used with a Thunderbolt port on a new Mac. The thread began in February, just after the new MacBook Pros were released, and new posts continue to be added regularly with users who have experienced screen flickering on the discontinued 24-inch display.

Forum user David Batista sent an e-mail on Friday explaining his own similar issues experienced with multiple 24-inch displays that he owns. He said that none of the Cinema Displays can be used with his new MacBook Pro equipped with Thunderbolt.

“I myself have been on the phone with Apple at least six times now over this,” he wrote. “All they can say is that the engineers are looking into it and hopefully they can find a fix soon.”

Batista said he’s surprised a fix hasn’t been issued considering Thunderbolt ports have been added to new Macs released throughout 2011. The 24-inch Cinema Display was discontinued in 2010 along with the 30-inch model. Apple now offers a single display at 27 inches.

An updated 27-inch model, dubbed a “Thunderbolt Display,” was unveiled by Apple in July. It features Thunderbolt I/O and built-in docking cables for Mac notebooks, and is available for US$999. Orders for the display began shipping last week.

Before Thunderbolt was released this year, Apple’s Cinema Displays were driven by the Mini DisplayPort standard Apple has included in its Macs for years. Thunderbolt ports are the same size as Mini DisplayPort, and are meant to be backward-compatible with earlier hardware, while newer Thunderbolt-equipped devices can handle both video and data over the same 10Gbps copper cable.

Sort of weird that there are backwards compatibility issues with this of all things.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Intel quietly mentions 4K support, could introduce higher screen resolutions under upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 06:48
Category: Hardware, News, Software

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The Retina Display: it’s never been a bad thing.

Per VR-Zone, Intel quietly revealed last week that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, with up to 4096 x 4096 pixels per monitor, potentially paving the way for Apple to introduce high-resolution “Retina Display” Macs.

The company announced the news during a technical session at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week, as noted by VR-Zone. Ivy Bridge chips will rival competing discrete GPUs by including support for the 4K resolution when they arrive next year.

The company also highlighted a Multi Format Codec (MFX) engine that is capable of playing multiple 4K videos at once. The codec is also capable of handling video processing for 4K QuadHD video, a standard that YouTube began supporting last year.

A set of performance enhancements, with special attention to graphics, should give Ivy Bridge as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current generation of Sandy Bridge chips, according to Intel.

Intel also revealed last week that Ivy Bridge chips will include support for Apple’s OpenCL standard, which should give a performance boost to next-generation MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models when they arrive in 2012.

If Apple were to introduce a 4K resolution display with the 16:9 ratio currently used in its Thunderbolt Display, iMac and MacBook Air products, the resulting resolution would be 4096 x 2304. A 27-inch display with 4K resolution would sport a pixel density of 174 pixels per inch. Assuming a working distance of 24 inches and 20/20 vision for the calculations, a 4K 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt display would count as a “Retina Display.”

Apple first began using the “Retina Display” marketing term with the iPhone 4 last year. Then CEO Steve Jobs touted the 326ppi display as being beyond the capabilities of the human retina when used at a distance of 12 or more inches from the eyes.

In September 2010, the company released a Retina Display iPod touch. Rumors have also swirled that Apple will follow suit with a high-resolution version of the third-generation iPad, doubling the resolution of the tablet to 2048 x 1536.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple support note advises against daisy-chaining Thunderbolt-equipped displays

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s new Thunderbolt-equipped displays are getting good reviews and can do a fair number of things.

But they can’t be daisy-chained.

According to an Apple support document, the company has noted that previous DisplayPort screens will not work when attached to the Thunderbolt port of its new display.

Thunderbolt-equipped Macs can support one or two Thunderbolt Displays, depending on the Thunderbolt chip in the system.

Apple notes that MacBook Airs support one external Thunderbolt Display in addition to their built in screen, while MacBook Pros, iMacs and the Mac mini can all support two Thunderbolt Displays.

With two external displays, the lowest end 13 inch MacBook Pro will lose the ability to drive its built in screen, while the highest end Mac mini with discrete AMD graphics can support two Thunderbolt Displays in addition to a third screen attached to its HDMI port.

However, users with an existing Mini DisplayPort external monitor will not be able to daisy chain the screen from the back of the new Thunderbolt Display, despite it being physically compatible with the port. Apple notes that “Mini DisplayPort displays will not light up if connected to the Thunderbolt port on an Apple Thunderbolt Display.”

Existing Mini DisplayPort screens, such as Apple’s LED Cinema Display, have never previously supported daisy chaining multiple screens to a single Mini DisplayPort interface, but the screens are supposed to work at the end of a Thunderbolt chain if there are no other displays in the chain.

Having any other screen in the Thunderbolt chain will kill ability of previous, non-Thunderbolt displays from being able to receive the DisplayPort signal, negating their forward compatibility with the new Thunderbolt standard.

The new Thunderbolt Display just began shipping to users yesterday after Apple released firmware updates for its new Thunderbolt-equipped Macs to solve remaining issues with working with the new screens.

In addition to serving as an external screen with stereo speakers, a FaceTime camera and a Magsafe power supply for powering a connected notebook, the new Thunderbolt Display also incorporates the features of a docking station, supplying connected Thunderbolt Macs with Gigabit Ethernet, three additional USB 2.0 ports, Firewire 800 and an additional Thunderbolt port.

Apple recommends that users connect storages devices to the display’s Thunderbolt port rather than connecting the display further down the chain.

If you’ve received a new Thunderbolt-equipped Apple display and have feedback regarding it, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped Cinema Display units

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 06:36
Category: Hardware, News

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have reported that Apple has begun shipping LED Thunderbolt Displays directly to them.

The customers reported late Thursday that their Thunderbolt Display orders have shipped, with one Australian customer claimed that the display has already arrived.

Apple unveiled the new US$999 27-inch LED Thunderbolt Display in July alongside new Mac Minis and MacBook Airs, promising availability within 60 days. The new display is the first to support the Thunderbolt I/O technology. In addition to Thunderbolt, the display includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, and one Gigabit Ethernet port.

Reports emerged last week that Apple had begun shipping the new displays to its retail stores with plans to begin fulfilling individual pre-orders on Sept. 15.

Earlier this week, Apple released a MacBook Pro firmware update enabling support for the new display. Early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pro models and other Thunderbolt-capable Macs with discrete graphics support two daisy-chained displays, though the new MacBook Air supports only one display.

Intel and Apple introduced the Thunderbolt technology in February. On Thursday, the chipmaker relayed its plans for the specification, which will eventually support transfer speeds of up to 100Gbps after the transition to optical cabling.

If you’ve received a shipping notice about your Thunderbolt-equipped display or the display itself and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Intel discusses Haswell achitecture, cites 24 hour notebook battery charge, 10 day standby, expected 2013 release date

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:43
Category: battery, Hardware, News

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Wait two years and your notebook’s battery life problems could get quite a bit easier to deal with.

Per Macworld, Intel’s next processor platform, code named Haswell, will offer more than 10 days of connected standby battery life and the ability to run your laptop for a full 24 hours on one charge.

Standby connected power will be decreased about 20 times over current Sandy Bridge processors. In real-life terms, this means you could put your laptop to sleep, unplugged, and it could still be working in the background, getting your emails and IMs, for ten days straight.

With 24 hours of battery life, those long-distance flights and day trips will no longer be a worry.

Intel also stated that this technology was slated for 2013, which means you have plenty of time to hanker for it.

For those looking to the more near-term, Intel is expected to released the Ivy Bridge chipset in 2012, which will use a new 22-nanometer architecture to replace the current Sandy Bridge architecture and help make laptops more power efficient in the process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hitachi announces 4TB external hard drive unit, includes Thunderbolt port

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Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 02:37
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Following up on Seagate’s announcement of a 4TB external hard drive, Hitachi has introduced its own 4TB disk and is packing two of them inside a whopping 8TB G-RAID external case complete with Thunderbolt.

Per Mac|Life, the company has placed two such drives inside a G-RAID casing and Thunderbolt I/O port on the outside. The company’s new 4TB-based G-RAID and single-drive G-DRIVE solutions will ship with Thunderbolt in the fourth quarter, but lovers of legacy I/O ports including eSATA, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 can get their mitts on one in October.

G-RAID with Thunderbolt is billed as the highest capacity two-drive RAID 0 external storage device in the world, ready to use right out of the box with Mac OS X systems where it appears as a single, big and fast hard drive. (G-RAID also supports Windows systems with a simple reformat.)

The company hasn’t announced any firm pricing for the new G-RAID with Thunderbolt, but interested consumers of big storage can stay tuned to the company’s website for more details in the near future.

Seagate releases 4TB FreeAgent GoFlex external hard drive

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Date: Thursday, September 8th, 2011, 08:04
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could prove useful.

Per Mac|Life, the cool cats at Seagate have released the company’s latest GoFlex Desk external hard drive, which now tops out at a whopping 4TB for only US$249.

Seagate has announced a new model of their popular FreeAgent GoFlex Desk external hard drive, which now maxes out at 4TB with a USB 3.0 (backward compatible with USB 2.0) connection for only US$249.99. The model is currently in stock and shipping now.

The drive functions as a single 4TB hard drive in an external case, which the company is touting as an industry first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re able to get your mitts on one, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped displays to customer base

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 03:03
Category: Hardware, News

This had to come eventually.

Per MacRumors, Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display to its retail stores and resellers this week, while individual pre-orders are said to have shipping estimates of Sept. 15.

The new displays are arriving this week and will be available for purchase “very soon.” Meanwhile, Electronista noted that it has heard of Sept. 15 shipping estimates for online pre-order customers.

Apple unveiled the US$999 27-inch LED display, billed as the world’s first display to take advantage of the new Thunderbolt I/O technology, in July, promising availability within 60 days. The display requires a Mac with a Thunderbolt I/O port.

The Thunderbolt Display features a 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle made possible via IPS technology. It also includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port and a Thunderbolt port.

Up to five additional Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained to the display. Additionally, eligible Macs, such as the MacBook Pro, can run two Thunderbolt Displays.

Apple and Intel co-developed the Thunderbolt standard, combining the chipmaker’s Light Peak technology with the Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt currently supports two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions and is expected to eventually reach speeds of 100Gbps.

The first Thunderbolt external RAID storage options arrived on the Apple online store in June. LaCie was scheduled to release the more consumer-oriented Little Big Disk Thunderbolt drive in “Summer 2011,” but has yet to announce a more specific release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a Thunderbolt display, let us know what you think of it in the comments.