New all-in-one Apple iMacs boast quad-core CPU, Thunderbolt I/O

Apple Tuesday released four new models of its iMac desktop computer that leave unchanged the aluminum and glass design, but that now boast powerful quad-core Intel processors and Apple's high-throughput Thunderbolt I/O interface.

Also new is an HD camera for Apple's FaceTime video calling and increased storage. With the processor, graphics, and memory upgrades, the new iMac is up to 70% faster than the prior model, with three times better graphics performance, according to Apple.

MORE APPLE: MacBook Pro models now boast Thunderbolt 10G I/0

The new iMacs come with either a 21.5- or 27-inch screen. There are two models of each configuration, with different clock speeds for either the Intel Core i5 or i7 Quad CPU (with integrated memory controller), and differing storage options, including solid-state drives instead of hard disks. Pricing ranges from $1,200 to $2,000.

Here's the basic breakdown:

21.5-inch display, 1920 by 1080 pixels

* 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache

* AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

* 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM (configurable to 16GB)

* 500GB hard drive

* One Thunderbolt I/O port, supporting two two-way channels with each delivering 10Gbps

Price: $1,200

2.7 GHz version of the i5

* Also with 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache (this model can be configured with a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 chip)

* AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

* 4GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 memory (configurable to 16GB)

* 1 terabyte 7200rpm hard drive (configurable to 2 terabyte hard drive or a 256GB solid-state second drive)

* One Thunderbolt I/O port, supporting two two-way channels with each delivering 10Gbps

Price: $1,500

27-inch display, 2560 by 1440 pixels

* 2.7 GHz i5, 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache

* AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

* 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 memory (configurable to 16GB)

* 1 terabyte 7200rpm hard drive (configurable to 2 terabyte hard drive or a 256GB solid-state second drive)

* 2 Thunderbolt I/O ports, each supporting two two-way channels, with each channel delivering 10Gbps

Price: $1,700

3.1 GHz i5 (or optionally the 3.4 Ghz i7) 

* 6MB on-chip shared L3 cache

* 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM (configurable to 16GB)

* 1 terabyte hard drive (configurable to 2 terabyte had drive or a 256GB solid-state second drive)

* AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory (or optionally with 2GB)

* Two Thunderbolt I/O ports, each supporting two two-way channels, with each channel delivering 10Gbps

* Price: $2,000

Full technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are on Apple's iMac Web page.

The new iMacs are the first desktop computers to include Thunderbolt, a high performance I/O interface created by Intel and Apple. It first appeared in February as part of the new MacBook laptop line.

Thunderbolt acts as a kind of superfast highway that can be used by a wide range of existing video streaming and data transfer protocols, according to Apple. "Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters," according to Apple. Also supported is DisplayPort for high-resolution displays. Adapters let Thunderbolt interface with HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. (Also see: "Intel to open up Thunderbolt development this quarter")

Other I/O interfaces include: Mini DisplayPort output with support for DVI, VGA and dual-link DVI (adapters sold separately); one FireWire 800 port; four USB 2.0 ports; and an SDXC card slot. There is one 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet port.

The new models run Mac OS X Snow Leopard. They are equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi (which supports the older 802.11a/b/g standard), and Bluetooth 2.1 + Enhanced Data Rate (EDR).

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Email: john_cox@nww.com

Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed

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