Rumor: Prior to passing, Steve Jobs left iTunes creator in charge of HDTV project

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:51
Category: Rumor, Software

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When Steve Jobs passed away, he put certain Apple employees in place to keep things going and make sure his final goals were realized.

It looks like another has been discovered.

According to Bloomberg, Jeff Robbin, an Apple vice president and engineer who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company’s efforts to produce a connected TV with integrated search functionality.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the project, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Robbin is in charge of Cupertino, Calif., company’s secretive high-definition TV project. According to the sources, Apple is working to integrate seamless content search features into the device.

“For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated,” the report noted.

Robbin worked as a system software engineer at Apple in the 1990s before leaving to work on his own software projects. While at software publisher Casady & Greene, he helped to develop the SoundJam MP MP3 player software. In late 2000, Apple purchased the rights for SoundJam from Casady & Greene, bringing Robbin back into the fold to head up the software’s transformation into iTunes.

Back at Apple, Robbin also played a crucial role in the development of the iPod, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is listed among the inventors of several key iPod-related patent filings, though not all of the applications were successfully converted into legitimate patents.

His current role at Apple is vice president of consumer applications and lead software designer for iTunes.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at one point considered Robbin to be of such high value to the company that he worked to keep Robbin’s role under wraps. According to the bestselling biography on Jobs, officially released on Monday, Jobs refused to allow a Time magazine reporter to use the engineer’s full name in an article because he feared Robbin would be poached by another company. The book also noted that Robbin was one of the Apple executives who successfully lobbied Jobs to allow a Windows version of iTunes.

Having persisted for years, rumors surrounding Apple’s connected television initiative have gained momentum after Jobs’ biography confirmed that he had been working on such a device. Author Walter Isaacson quoted Jobs in an interview as saying that he wanted to make television sets “simple and elegant,” just like he had done with computers, music players and phones.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs reportedly said of the project. “I finally cracked it.”

Multiple analysts claimed on Monday that Apple has been building prototype high-definition TVs, possibly in preparation for a 2012 launch. The rumored product would represent a strong opportunity for the company, as some have projected the LCD TV market to top US$100 billion next year.

Apple currently sells a US$99 Apple TV set-top box, but considers the device to be little more than a “hobby.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple creating HDTV prototypes for late 2012 launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:08
Category: Hardware, News, Rumor

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Prior to his passing away, Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs stated that he wanted to capture the television market.

This might be the first step towards that goal.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray revealed in a note to investors on Monday that a source close to an Asian component supplier claimed in September that Apple was building prototype models of its rumored high-definition television set.

Munster has long been a believer that Apple will enter the television market, saying as far back as February 2009 that he believed the company was working on a major entrance into the living room. He sees Apple building an all-in-one, Internet-connected television set with access to the App Store and iTunes content.

If Apple were to launch a TV set in late 2012, he believes it would add about 3 percent to the company’s revenue in 2013. With a projected 220 million flat panel TVs to be sold in 2012, 48 percent, or 106 million, will be Internet-connected devices, and he sees Apple selling 1.4 million of those.

With the addition of iCloud and Siri voice control, Munster believes Apple is even more prepared to launch an HDTV in the coming years. With iCloud, users could access TV shows, pictures, and potentially moves, while Siri could “simplify the chore of inputting information like show titles, or actor names, into a TV.”

Munster also met with sources in Asia in January of this year, where he heard word that Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supply for LCD displays. The company is said to have invested in screen sizes of up to 50 inches for a potential television set.

Rumors of an Apple-built HDTV began to pick up steam once again last week, when it was revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked’ the secret to building an integrated, easy-to-use television set. He said the device “will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Apple is currently in the set-top box market with its US$99 Apple TV, but the company has famously referred to its interest in that market as a “hobby.” The Apple TV allows users to purchase content from iTunes, while new features like wireless AirPlay mirroring have been added with recent software updates.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available and if you have any features you’d love to see on an Apple-branded HDTV, let us know what they might be in the comments.

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.

Apple posts Steve Jobs memorial web site

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 04:56
Category: News

Compiling some of the many e-mails the company has received since the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple launched a new feature on its website on Wednesday called “Remembering Steve.”

Per AppleInsider, the tribute site, at apple.com/stevejobs/, continuously scrolls with personal messages sent in by customers and admirers of Jobs. Submissions are still being accepted at the address rememberingsteve@apple.com.

“Over a million people from all over the world have shared their memories, thoughts, and feelings about Steve,” the site reads. “One thing they all have in common — from personal friends to colleagues to owners of Apple products — is how they’ve been touched by his passion and creativity.”

The memorial page arrives as Apple is set to hold a celebration of the life of Jobs at its Cupertino, Calif., campus today. Apple’s retail stores will temporarily close from 10 a.m. Pacific to 11:30 a.m., allowing employees to watch a live broadcast of the event.

Another, more private tribute to Jobs was held on Sunday at Stanford Memorial Church, attended by Apple executives, family, friends and dignitaries, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton. It also included performances from cellist Yo Yo Ma, singer Joan Baez, and U2 frontman Bono.

Jobs passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the age of 56 after a long bout with cancer. A smaller service, featuring friends and family, was held just a few days after the Apple co-founder died.

Apple posts $28.27 billion revenue, $6.62 billion profit for Q4 2011, still disappoints some analysts

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 04:00
Category: Finance, News

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You can offer evidence of something pretty amazing, but you’ll never win the entirety of your audience over all the time.

In this vein, Apple released the financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter yesterday, reporting record sales of the Mac and iPad product lines as well as the company’s highest September quarter revenue and earnings ever, the news still failing to meet some analysts’ expectations.

Per Mac|Life, Apple announced its quarterly financial results for the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter which ended on September 24. Even without a new iPhone over the summer, the company still racked up quarterly revenue of US$28.27 billion and quarterly net profit of US$6.62 billion, or US$7.05 per diluted share. Last year at the same time, Apple had revenue of US$20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, or US$4.64 per diluted share. The company’s gross margin was 40.3 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago, with international sales accounting for 63 percent of the quarterly revenue.

Even with this at hand, analysts on Wall Street looked at the report glumly, with Apple missing their own expectations of US$7.22 per share and revenue of US$29.5 billion. Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple hasn’t missed earnings forecasts since the second quarter of 2002, but others are saying sometime in 2004 instead. Whatever the case, the stock fell eight percent after hours but rebounded just a bit to close at US$398 per share.

While Apple has already sold more than four million iPhone 4S devices in the first weekend which won’t be accounted for until next quarter, the company still managed to move 17.07 million of the older handsets in the current quarter, a 21 percent year-over-year growth and certainly nothing to sneeze at. 11.2 million iPads flew out the door, marking a 166 percent increase from the same quarter last year, with 4.89 million Macs also finding homes in the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase.

“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to US$108 billion and growing earnings to US$26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”

One product category that took a hit was the iPod, which sold only 6.62 million units during the quarter, marking a 27 percent decline from the same quarter last year — but certainly not bad for a lineup that’s now a decade old, and the iPod continues to hold more than 70 percent market share.

“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of US$5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about US$37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about US$9.30.”

As usual, Apple held a conference call to provide further highlights and field questions from analysts and investors, with CEO Tim Cook noting that it marks the first since the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs. “The world has lost a visionary and an amazing human being,” Cook stated. “He was an amazing leader and mentor. His spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple, and we are dedicated to continuing the amazing work that he loved so much.”

Cook then got down to business by turning things over to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, who repeated most of the details from Apple’s earlier press release before throwing out some additional numbers. These included iTunes Store revenue of US$1.5 billion, 180 million iBooks sold, US$11 billion in revenue from iPhone handsets and accessories, and six million downloads of OS X Lion in the quarter.

Asia-Pacific growth doubled year over year, which the company was expecting to fall when it became clear in June that no new iPhone was on the horizon. The handset is now available on 230 carriers in 105 countries, with Consumer Reports listing the device with its highest customer satisfaction rating for the sixth consecutive time. 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now either deploying or testing the iPhone, up from 91 percent last year.

The App Store is also flying high, with 22 more countries enlisted during the quarter for a total of 123. Retail stores are also enjoying “very strong” year-over-year growth, particularly for Mac and iPad sales, which enjoyed their best quarter ever — which no doubt helped lessen the blow from the iPhone 4S being unveiled in fiscal Q1 2012 instead.

Last but not least, during the closing question and answer session, Cook proclaimed confidence that Apple would have record sales for the next quarter, which includes the all-important holiday season. That quarter will also bring the iPhone 4S to another 22 countries at month’s end, with even more coming by year’s end.

Larger memorial held for passing of Steve Jobs, CEOs and celebrities in attendance

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Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 06:52
Category: News

A private memorial for Steve Jobs, held Sunday at Stanford Memorial Church, was attended by a long list of notable people, including politicians, actors, musicians and peers of the late Apple co-founder.

Though Apple was “tight-lipped” about the hundreds of people who attended the event, Apple 2.0 obtained some of the names of those who attended. They include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Google CEO Larry Page, and Adobe co-founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke.

Per Fortune, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who also remains a member of Apple’s board of directors. Actor Tim Allen, who plays the character Buzz Lightyear in the “Toy Story” films by Pixar — a company acquired by Jobs in 1986 and sold to Disney for US$7.4 billion in 2006 — was also present.

Bono, lead singer of the band U2, was there as well. U2 and Apple have been closely tied for years, with songs by the band appearing in Apple’s commercials, and a special U2-branded iPod was released by the company in 2004.

Others present included actor Stephen Fry, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, former California first lady Maria Shriver, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and singer Joan Baez.

Sunday’s memorial was an opportunity for a larger number of people to pay their respects to Jobs. A smaller service, featuring family and friends of the late Apple co-founder, was held earlier this month, just a few days after he passed away.

Jobs died on Wednesday, Oct. 5 after a long bout with cancer. He was 56 years old. The list of some memorial attendees follows in alphabetical order:

Tim Allen, actor

Joan Baez, folksinger

Bono, U2 frontman

Bill Campbell, chairman of Intuit

Bill Clinton, former President

Ron Conway, founder of Angel Investors

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Michael Dell, CEO of Dell

Rahm Emmanuel, mayor of Chicago

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle

Scott Forstall, Apple senior vice president

Stephen Fry, actor

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft

Chuck Geschke, Adobe co-founder

Al Gore, former Vice President

John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar

Jon Miller, chief technical officer of News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp.

Larry Page, CEO of Google

Maria Shriver, former first lady of California

Larry Sonsini, Silicon Valley attorney

John Warnock, Adobe co-founder

Remembering Steve Jobs: Your Thoughts and Letters

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Date: Monday, October 10th, 2011, 10:59
Category: Announcement

Last Wednesday, Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs passed away after a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Inarguably, his worked touched and affected the lives of millions and with that in mind, we’d like to share your thoughts on Steve Jobs:

“We are amongst the many people who have received short emails from Steve.

Mobile Me had recently been introduced, and at the Keynote, Steve had said ‘And I’ve already got ‘Steve@mac.com’.

So a while later when we were impatient for our new Titanium Powerbook to be delivered faster than seemed possible, we emailed Steve, to see if we could jump the queue. We knew his address after all. A few minutes later we got a reply.

‘No, we deliver the orders in the order we get them, Steve’

A fair man, a good man, loved by us.

Ronnie Hughes and Sarah Horton”
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“Subject: Remembering Steve

Message Body:
I have often imagined that if I had ever gotten a chance to meet Steve Jobs, the first thing I would have said to him would have been, ”Thank you! Thank you for coming back and saving Apple.”

I remember vividly the tense debates I engaged in with PC users during ”the dark times” of the mid 90s when the future of Apple was in doubt. Rolling my eyes at every poison-penned op-ed by John Dvorak–I still recall how he introduced me to the word ”moribund” which sent me to the dictionary and made me even more pissed off because he had used it in reference to the company that I so loved. Oh, the frustration I felt when talking with people who thought Windows 95 was so amazing and the indifference they showed when I pointed out that I had been using all of those ”amazing” features since the last decade. To say nothing of the guy who lived in the barracks room down the hall from me who wanted to show off his new version of Windows and STILL had to open the DOS prompt to move a file from one directory to another because he couldn’t grasp the concept of clicking on the picture of the document and dragging it from one picture of a folder to another in order to move it.

But I fought the good fight. I joined Guy Kawasaki’s ”EvangeList”–I still have the teeshirt! I remember sending Guy an e-mail in which I compared Mac users to early Christians and PC users to apostates who corrupted the original concept of a truly usable GUI. Guy responded by saying that I had ”a lot of fervor.” In retrospect, I think I was bordering on fanatical.

I was one of those people that would go up to PCs on display on store shelves and launch the registry editor in Windows, change every reference to the ”Recycle Bin” to ”Trash,” move the task bar to the top of the screen, rearrange the icons on the desktop to more closely resemble the default Mac OS interface and top it all off by changing ”My Computer” to ”My ’87 Macintosh.” I had to work fast so the sales clerks didn’t see what I was doing. I was never caught.

Had I the opportunity to meet Steve, I would like to have told him about that as well. I would have also related to him the following true story:

It was 1999. Just a couple of years since Steve’s return to Apple. I was walking through CompUSA, heading toward the Apple ”Store-within-a-store.” There was an interesting display of the new ”fruit-flavored” iMacs–empty iMac shells actually–set on top of some iMac boxes on the floor. It wasn’t easy for an adult to get a good look at them, but then I don’t recall there being much in the way of product information about them either. At first, this seemed a little odd.

As I looked around, I noticed a young family walking down the aisle; just a mom, dad and their little daughter. As soon as the daughter caught sight of the iMacs–which were at the perfect eye level for her–she ran toward them and placed her arms around the ”Grape” model and looked at her parents longingly. That’s when I noticed that she was wearing a purple sweater. It was obviously her favorite color so, of course, she’s going to want the purple iMac.

I had to smile. Sure, the kid making puppy-dog eyes to her parents for a new toy was something we’ve all seen before–and have probably done at one time or another–but there was more to this particular moment than that familial cliché. I witnessed in that moment, the realization of Steve Jobs’ vision about making technology not just accessible to human beings but inviting and inspiring. No child ever wanted to hold IBM’s PCjr in their arms. There was never anything cuddly about a product from Compaq or Hewlett Packard. The iMac brought Apple back to the core appeal of the original Macintosh; an all-in-one computer that didn’t intimidate the end user. Instead, it opened up a world of creative potential and took it a step further: it invited affection.

It didn’t quite sink in at first. The marketing brilliance of putting colorful computers at a child’s eye-level was obvious and I remember thinking, ”Only Apple would create a piece of technology that a child would want to hug.”

Now that Steve is gone, I realize that it wasn’t Apple. It was him. Apple has always been a special company. Innovative, iconic and with a loyal base of customers who have stuck with it through good times and bad and now great times. But it’s always been Steve Jobs who really made the difference. From the time he left Apple in 1985 until the his return at the tail end of 1996 with Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, Apple did release some amazing products and even invented an entire new computing platform–the MessagePad was just a little too ahead of its time to be really successful–but it lacked the style and charm that came with Steve.

There is some concern that with Steve’s passing, Apple cannot maintain its success. I remain hopeful that the company has learned its lesson. They know what happened when Steve was pushed out and how it was Steve who brought them back. We can only hope that as Apple moves forward, its leadership will do everything it can to emulate his leadership, style and charm.

—Joseph Puente”
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“My first Mac was the Mac Classic, then the Powerbook 140, the LC 475, PowerMac 7500, Powerbook G3 Wallstreet, G3 Pismo, Powerbook G4 Aluminum, G4 Cube, Mac Mini G3, Mac Mini Intel Core 2 Duo, and the MacBook Air. iPod Nano, iPod Touch. These were wonderful companions that saw me through graduate school, my first appointment as assistant professor, then on to two more positions, and my current appointment as associate professor and department head. Although Steve was not at Apple during all of those periods, it was always his spirit of innovation and quality that drove Apple, and the quality of that innovation and the beauty of Apple’s work exploded when he returned to Apple. Dissertation, books, articles, photos, posters with Photoshop, iTunes, iPhoto, web sites, documents related to building houses, planning conferences, taking notes at meetings, hundreds of recommendation letters for students and colleagues that led to careers and accolades, letters to friends and family, keeping track of appointments and to-do lists, managing finances, dreaming up schemes, and just dreaming. What would have taken dozens of file cabinets, so many things I could never have done otherwise, speeding the pace of activity by a magnitude or more, so that I could be productive in what would otherwise have been three or four full time arenas of life and work. I rub my hand over the cover the MacBook Air, tap its precision keys, slide my fingers across the multi-touch glass trackpad as if I had always made those movements naturally. The gleam of Steve’s smile, of pure delight, as he holds up the MacBook Air to his audience, even as his body had begun to wither, preparing to leave this earth. It is a smile that bespeaks of treks to Hewlett-Packard and Xerox Parc, trips to apple orchards in Oregon, pilgrimage to India, inward journeys of struggle, reflection, and creative inspiration. That child-like smile, flashing across his face, like a flash of lightning in the great unfolding of the universe. I touch the keys and it is almost as though Steve is right there, in the Air. Thank you, Steve, Thank you. — Mark Unno”
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If you have any stories that you’d like to share, just drop us an e-mail and we’ll add your contribution thoughout the week.

Mint Digital Foundry Team converts MacBook Pro parts into portrait of Steve Jobs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 7th, 2011, 06:24
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures

This is weird.

But also kind of beautiful.

Per Gizmodo, the Foundry Team over at Mint Digital disassembled a MacBook Pro and converted it into a portrait of Steve Jobs (full size image available here).

This may not be the way Steve Jobs thought he’d be memorialized, but it is amazing.



Take a gander and if you have any cool Steve Jobs stories of your own that you’d like to share, please send us an e-mail and we’ll have the best ones up on Monday.

Former Apple CEO, company co-founder Steve Jobs dies

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 6th, 2011, 04:50
Category: News

Steve Jobs, the former CEO and co-founder of Apple, died on Wednesday, the news being announced by Apple. He was 56.

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being,” Apple said in a statement on its website. “Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.”

“Steve Jobs is one of the great innovators in the history of modern capitalism,” New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said in August. “His intuition has been phenomenal over the years.”

“He was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or a Henry Ford, and set the mold for many other corporate leaders in many other industries,” wrote Walter Mossberg, a tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

“He did what a CEO should: Hired and inspired great people; managed for the long term, not the quarter of the short-term stock price; made big bets and took big risks.”
Jobs’ death, while dreaded by Apple’s legions of fans, was not unexpected. He had battled cancer for years, took a medical leave from Apple in January and stepped down as chief executive in August because he could “no longer meet (his) duties and expectations.”

Jobs is survived by his wife of 20 years, Laurene, and four children, including one from a prior relationship.

He always spoke with immense pride about what he and his engineers accomplished at Apple.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” he said while delivering a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

We’ll have additional details as they become available, but in the meantime, Apple has stated that your thoughts, condolences and memories can be sent to the rememberingsteve@apple.com e-mail address.

If you have any personal thoughts, stories or condolences about Steve that you’d like to share, shoot me an e-mail at chris@powerpage.org and we’ll post them tomorrow.

Goodbye, Steve. We’ll miss you.



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

Posted by:
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.