Apple’s New 5K External Display Could Boast an Integrated GPU

Stock of Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Display has been dwindling ahead of the WWDC keynote, leading us to suspect that the product is about to be upgraded soon. The display, which was first introduced more than four years ago, should see its resolution bumped to match the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display. The hardware refresh might integrate an external graphics card, reports 9to5Mac.

“Our sources explain that the reason for it is primarily for compatibility with as many future Macs as possible,” write author Benjamin Mayo. The logic here is that the kind of power needed to push 5K worth of pixels requires a powerful GPU.

This isn’t a problem with desktop machines like the iMac or the Mac Pro which have a powerful GPU in them, but not so much with notebooks that mostly run integrated graphics rather than a discreet GPU.

“Apparently, Apple has settled on a solution: to include a powerful GPU inside the display itself, rather than relying solely on the graphics power of the connected Mac,” reads the article.

9to5Mac has apparently heard similar rumors, noting in a separate report that they’ve heard Apple is working on an external 5K display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880. That display has an integrated GPU as well. To work properly, the connected device would need Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C.
“Technology within updates to OS X (MacOS 10.12?) software will enable the process to happen seamlessly and automatically. Upon connection to the new Apple Display, the Mac will intelligently decide whether to use its own internal graphics power or rely on the external GPU included with the Thunderbolt display; the more powerful GPU will be used while the less powerful GPU will be inactive. From what we understand, the GPU will not be able to work in concert with the internal GPU at all — it’s one or the other.”
On the other hand, the article states they have independently heard “some rumblings” about what the new display might offer while stating that “We are led to believe that WWDC will be very light on new hardware,” which isn’t very reassuring for those keeping their fingers crossed for a Retina-class Thunderbolt Display introduction at WWDC. 

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