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Thunderbolt Display Stock Limited at Apple Stores

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

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.

A 27-inch standalone retina display will be a genuine finally. If they announce it at WWDC, the crowd will go nuts. But just how they’ll drive it is a fascinating question. Using two Thunderbolt cables would be clunky. Maybe one cable that forks into two Thunderbolt adapters at the end?

Update: Best guess so far, from Stephen Foskett:

@gruber What if Apple put the graphics card in the monitor? It would work with most (all?) Thunderbolt Macs and wouldn’t require 2 cables…

I’d bet on this.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016