O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Apple releases 24-Inch LED Cinema Display firmware update 1.0

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Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2011, 05:49
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released its 24-Inch LED Cinema Display Firmware Update 1.0, a 962 kilobyte download which addresses an issue that may cause intermittent display flickering. This firmware will only install on the Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display when it is connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac.

Apple has also noted that this firmware update may not resolve the flickering issue if a Mini DisplayPort extender cable is used and that some USB and FireWire devices may prevent firmware updates from installing correctly; disconnect non-essential devices and use only an Apple keyboard and mouse to apply the update.

The update is available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think in the comments.

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.

Rumor: Apple to discontinue iPod Classic, Shuffle models this year

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 06:03
Category: iPod, Rumor


The iPod classic and Shuffle models may not be long for this world.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple will streamline its iPod range by removing the iPod classic and iPod shuffle from its physical and online stores.

The source is apparently not an analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that the tip isn’t apparently that new.

The iPod classic still uses a traditional, spinning-disc hard drive and while Apple is making a conscious shift to flash memory it is beginning to look somewhat outdated. The iPod shuffle is at the lowest end of the iPod range and once it is discontinued, the iPod nano will take its place.

The iPod will see its 10th anniversary this October, which could make this a good time to put it to rest. Besides, iPods only account for eight percent of Apple’s total sales these days.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked video shows graphics switching feature on iPhone prototype

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 06:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaked videos that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, a new, unconfirmed video claims to show a prototype iPhone with a software-based developer setting that allows switching between graphics processing units.

While the video’s authenticity has yet to be verified, it claims to show a handset built for testing purposes that allows developers to choose between the SGX535 GPU found in the iPhone 4, and the faster SGX545, which has not yet been seen in any of Apple’s mobile devices.

The PowerVR SGX535 GPU from Imagination Technologies currently handles graphics for the A4 processor that powers the iPhone 4. But the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 has a SGX543MP2 GPU, different from the “545” model shown in the video. The SGX543MP2 has two SGX543 cores.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, so take a gander and see what you think:

The SGX545 GPU was first unveiled in January of 2010, boasting full support for OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL 1.0 with real-world performance of 40 million polygons per second at 200MHz. For comparison, the SGX535 can produce 28 million polygons per second, while the SGX543 pushes 35 million polygons per second.

But the SGX543MP2, with two SGX543 GPUs, is capable of nearly 70 million polygons per second, which would make it much more powerful than the single SGX545 claimed to be in the prototype.

While the video claims to show a prototype iPhone, the hardware displayed looks identical to the currently available iPhone 4. It’s possible that the graphics switching functionality, shown accessed through the iOS Settings application via the Developer Settings section, was enabled through a hack, or has been faked by some other method, such as a jailbreak.

As for the GPU differing from the A5 currently found in the iPad 2, it would not be a new approach for Apple to modify and improve the processor in the iPhone. For example, the A4 found in the iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, which is twice that of the A4 found in the first-generation iPad released months before the iPhone 4 was unveiled.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AT&T blocks vacation days in mid-October, hinting towards iPhone 5 release

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Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor


It’s when companies stop employee vacation time that things get interesting.

Per the cool cats at Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly blocked its employees from taking vacation days in mid-October as the carrier gears up for the launch of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Employees at AT&T retail locations have allegedly been blocked from taking vacations during the first two weeks of October, BGR reported on Tuesday. Employees have reportedly been told they cannot request time off between Monday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 14.

In addition, it was said that AT&T’s internal inventory system lists a total of six new product placeholders. The entries are said to be “most likely holding space” for the iPhone models Apple is expected to announce at its event next Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Reports emerged last week that Apple has begun blacking out vacation days for retail employees at some of its stores during the second week of October. Specifically, Apple employees in some locations are said to have been barred from taking time off work Oct. 9 through 12, and Oct. 14 and 15.

Earlier this month, it was said that Sprint also began blacking out staff vacations for the first half of October. The iPhone is currently exclusive to AT&T and Verizon, but Sprint is widely expected to offer Apple’s next iPhone at launch.

As of yet there has not been any word of Verizon employees being barred from vacation time in October. Rumors have pointed toward a sale date of Friday, Oct. 14 for Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Apple’s fifth-generation handset is expected to become the first iPhone to launch on multiple carriers simultaneously in the U.S. Last June, when the iPhone 4 launched on AT&T alone in America, the carrier was forced to suspend preorders after experiencing demand ten times greater than for its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

Verizon eventually gained access to the iPhone 4 more than six months later, in February of this year. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said on Tuesday he expects that demand for the so-called “iPhone 5” will be large at Verizon, as a recent poll conducted by his investment firm found that 74 percent of Verizon iPhone buyers said they are waiting for Apple’s next model rather than buying the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces October 4th “Let’s Talk iPhone” press event

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Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:29
Category: iPhone, iPod, News


The rumor mill can now take a five minute breather and go grab itself a cup of coffee.

Per Ars Technica, Apple has formally announced its upcoming media event after months of rumors and speculation. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 4 at 10am Pacific Daylight Time on Apple’s campus in Cupertino—just as the latest rumors predicted—and will be led by Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook.

Apple’s invitation graphics include four iOS app icons (Calendar, Clock, Maps, and Phone) along with the quote “Let’s talk iPhone.” Apple doesn’t usually get this specific when sending out its invitations, but apparently it’s trying a new, more direct approach this time around. (As an aside, the icon choices are quite clever. The calendar says October 4, clock says 10:00, map points to Apple’s campus, and the phone icon shows one phone call.)

No specific details have been mentioned of an iPhone 5 release and there’s also been some talk of a white iPod touch—a relatively minimal detail that reminds us that the fall event was originally about iPods.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Facebook to launch iPad-native app at Apple’s October 4th media event

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Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 05:48
Category: Rumor, Software

Don’t worry, Mark Zuckerberg’s empire will soon be in native form for your iPad.

Per Mashable, word on the ground is that Facebook will launch its iPad application and an updated iPhone app at Apple’s Oct. 4 media event. Recent reports suggested that Apple will announce the fifth-generation iPhone next Wednesday and that the event will be hosted on Apple’s campus, although the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has not yet issued press invites for the keynote.

On Monday, Facebook’s former lead developer for the iPad app, Jeff Verkoeyen, revealed that he had left the social networking company in part because of personal frustrations at the slow progress made by the company after the project reached the feature-complete stage in May. The feature-complete phase is usually the final step before beta tests can take place.

In June, it was reported that the Facebook for iPad application would launch in weeks. iOS users even found access to the app hidden inside the current version of the iPhone app in July, but the social networking giant quickly blocked access to it.

The app’s repeated delays were explained by Mashable’s sources as stemming from a “combination of timing and strained relationship with Apple.” Recent disagreements over Facebook integration in iOS and Facebook Connect support in Apple’s Ping social music service are believed to have contributed to the growing tension between the two companies.

Given that the original iPad was announced more than a year and a half ago, the fact that Facebook has yet to release an iPad app has been viewed by some as a slight to Apple. Several reports have suggested that the company held the native iPad app as leverage in negotiations with Apple.

The forthcoming update to the Facebook for iPhone app is expected to offer “design and speed improvements that mimic the iPad app,” the publication noted.

Facebook is also rumored to unveil its own HTML5-based mobile app store, currently known by the codename “Project Spartan,” at the Apple event. Project Spartan is said to be a mobile platform that will offer developers the means of porting Facebook apps to mobile devices via HTML5-based web apps.

First rumored in June, the project has reportedly gained Apple’s support. According to Monday’s report, the company apparently decided not to announce it at last week’s F8 developer conference so as not to distract from new Facebook features such as the Timeline and the Facebook Open Graph.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins canceling vacation days for second week of October, iOS 5/iPhone 5 rumors fly

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Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software


It’s when Apple starts reworking vacation days that things get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is quietly denying requests for employee vacations during the second week of October, hinting that the company currently anticipates an influx of customers to its stores around that time related to availability of its new iOS 5 and fifth-generation iPhone products.

More specifically, the company has blacked out vacation time for employees in certain locations from October 9th through 12th and October 14th through 15th, according to sources close to the story.

The first block of dates — the 9th through the 12 — could pertain to the release of iOS 5 for existing iOS device owners on Monday the 10th. As discovered and reported last week, certain segments of the company’s AppleCare divisions have been told to prepare for an influx of iOS-related inquiries on that same day.

Twitter has also scheduled a developer event and a pair of “Developer Teatimes” for Oct. 10 and Oct. 12 with a “heavy focus” on the social service’s tight integration with iOS 5, further suggesting that Apple’s non-disclosure terms covering the new mobile OS will have been lifted by then via a public release of the software.

Issuing a major iOS release a few days prior to launching new iPhone that will also leverage the software is not unexpected. For instance, last year Apple released iOS 4.0 on June 21st and then rolled out the iPhone 4 on June 24th. And a year earlier it launched iOS 3.0 (then dubbed iPhone Software 3.0) on June 17th and then followed up with the iPhone 3GS on the 21st.

Assuming hints of an iOS 5.0 release around Monday, October 10th prove accurate, the second block of retail blackout dates — October 14th and 15th — could signal availability of the fifth-generation iPhone hardware by that Friday.

With Apple rumored to hold a media event to first unveil its fifth-generation iPhone plans on October 4th, that would give the Cupertino-based company roughly 10 days to field pre-orders ahead of an official launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

Recent Xcode references point towards quad-core ARM CPUs for future iOS devices

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

While Apple may not always tell you what hardware features are on the horizon where its iOS devices are concerned, the development tools can spill the beans.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, a number of references found inside Apple’s Xcode developer tool point towards quad-core ARM CPUs, hinting at next-generation processors that will power Apple’s future iPhones and iPads.

The references specifically point towards the idea that Apple recently added support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.

Author Chris Foresman concluded that it’s “most probable” that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototype versions of future iPhones and iPads. The existing chip could serve as a placeholder while Apple works on its own custom-built next-generation processors.

Reports have indicated that Apple’s next anticipated ARM CPU, dubbed “A6,” will be built on a 28-nanometer process and use 3D stacking technology. There has been no mention of a quad-core ARM CPU from Apple in 2012. The A5 CPU found in the iPad 2 is a dual core processor.

It’s also possible that the Xcode references signal that Apple will begin using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air, something that Apple has been rumored to be testing in its internal labs. However, Foresman noted that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors are built on an advanced 22-nanometer process that will boost performance and reduce battery life, while ditching Intel would require developers to recompile Mac OS X software for ARM-based Macs.

Apple’s so-called “A6” CPU is believed to be in trial production for a 2012 launch, presumably in a third-generation iPad. The company is believed to have even signed a new foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build an “A7” CPU, which would be projected to debut in devices in 2013.

Apple began designing its own chips following the acquisition of boutique microprocessor design company P.A. Semi in 2008 for US$278 million. Then in 2010, Apple acquired Intrinsity, another chipmaker, for an estimated $121 million.

Apple’s custom chips debuted last year in the first-generation iPad, in the form of the A4 processor. That same chip later appeared in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, while the A5 debuted this March in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.