Presentation slide via VR-Zone

The Verge’s Vlad Slavov notes that Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chips will be 60 percent faster than the Sandy Bridge platform, but the biggest news is support for display resolutions up to 4096-by-4096 pixels and OpenCL. The silicon also features a Multi Format Codec engine which supports 4K QuadHD video on YouTube and is speedy enough to decode multiple 4K video streams at once.

Knowing that the Ivy Bridge platform is a successor to the Sandy Bridge chips which Apple extensively uses in portable and all-in-one Macs, this could mean that 2012 Mac models may enable so-called the 4K resolution:

The graphics processor integrated inside the Ivy Bridge chip will be able to decode video at a resolution of up to 4,096 x 4,096. That’s north of 16 megapixels at a time.

Current-generation Sandy Bridge chips found in Macs support up to 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution. For reference, the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt display maxes out at 2560-by-1440 pixels. The Verge points to an AnandTech report which details that such a high display resolution would require new cables because the latest DisplayPort 1.2 implementation lacks the bandwidth to feed the monitor with such a huge amount of image data:

4096×4096 at 60Hz with 24-bit color would require a bandwidth of roughly 36Gb/s, more than any of the current display interfaces supports (DisplayPort 1.2 is the king at 21.6Gb/s). 4096×2304 requires only ~20.2Gb/s, and that DP 1.2 can easily provide. 4096×4096 should, however, work with DP 1.2 by lowering the refresh rate to e.g. 30Hz, which would reduce the required bandwidth to be within DisplayPort’s range.

What about Thunderbolt? Per the official Thunderbolt web site, as 9to5Mac explained, optical Thunderbolt cables coming in 2012 will still sport the same 10 Gbps bidirectional data transfer speeds per channel, much as today’s electrical cables that have circuitry in cable ends. Of course, nobody wants to squint their eyes at a 4K display with a refresh rate of only 30Hz so we’re expecting the Video Electronics Standards Association to update the DisplayPort specification with support for new resolutions. How might Apple fit in all this talk?


Knowing Apple, it is very likely they will be one of the first companies to market 4K-capable computers for the masses and we are expecting a 4K-capable Thunderbolt Display when the time comes. Whether or not the company markets 4K computers and monitors under the Retina moniker remains to be seen. For guidance, Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Display with 4K resolution would have a pixel density of 174ppi. For the time being, the Retina Display nomenclature is being used only for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. There has been some talk about a Retina-capable third-generation iPad, which would require a display resolution of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels on a 9.7-inch display. Per the rumor mill, Apple’s been quality testing Retina-capable panels for iPad 3 from Samsung and LG. Intel pushed back Ivy Bridge to the first half of 2012, which had some fans fearing that a rumored MacBook Air-like redesign of the MacBook Pro family may get stuck with this year’s Sandy Bridge silicon. Beyond Ivy Bridge, Intel outlined plans to release an Ivy Bridge successor in 2013 nicknamed Haswell. The 22-nanometer chip will be fabbed on Intel’s 3D-transistor architecture and will be faster and use 20 percent less power compared to the current Sandy Bridge chips. The Haswell platform, Intel said, should be able to power an x86 computer for 24 hours/10 days of stand-by time off a single charge.

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