Apple began shipping the five-year-old Thunderbolt Display in
September 2011. In terms of prospective updates, the 27” Retina 5K
iMac could be the basis for a corresponding 5K Thunderbolt
Display, which could feature the same 5,120×2,880 pixels
resolution, USB-C ports for connecting Thunderbolt 3 peripherals,
and possibly an ultra-thin design resembling the latest iMacs.
Only the late 2013 Mac Pro, late 2014 or newer 27” Retina 5K iMac,
and mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics
are capable of driving 5K external displays, however, and each
setup requires using two Thunderbolt cables per display. The lack
of support is due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2
and HDMI 1.4 specs on current Macs.
DisplayPort 1.3 has increased bandwidth, but Skylake-based Macs
with Thunderbolt 3 will not support the spec and Intel’s
next-generation Kaby Lake processors on track for a late 2016
launch will not as well. Apple could opt to release a 4K
Thunderbolt Display instead, but supply chain considerations make
this unlikely, so the company’s exact plans for the future of its
standalone display remain to be seen.
I’d bet on this.