Originally Posted by hmm
I've mentioned before that it's highly unlikely that this is the only possible method of integration. The imac uses a laptop card. The top imac uses one which is considered a laptop card but is really more of an underclocked desktop card, and it is actually fairly high in wattage (around 100W).
I suspect the discussion here involves details none of us have at the moment. I'm assuming that card in the iMac is a custom design. One that routes some of the Display Port lines to the motherboard and then on to the Thunderbolt chip. The big question is how do they get that signal to the Thunderbolt chip.
I'm not sure we'll see this kind of design just yet. What makes you think this is the way to go?
In the end I see the GPU becoming tightly coupled to the CPU. Things like Sandy Bridge and AMDs Fusion are just a start. However at the performance end of things discreet GPUs will be around for a long while. However the desire to tightly couple those two types of processors is still going to be there, so I could see a system where a two socket board has one socket filled with a GPU. That is a bit of dreaming on my part but a GPU on the motherboard is a rational alternative. It means being able to route many Display Port lines to an enhanced Thunderbolt chip to support multiple monitors. This would be a key factor, if Apple puts ultiple TB ports on a Mac Pro they need to make them symmetrical, that is all of them need to be able to drive a display. Other than a card with custom I/O I don't know of an easy way to otherwise support TB properly.
I'm just wondering because Intel hasn't done well with integrated graphics thus far.
No they haven't but this isn't integrated graphics. At least not in the top of the line model. What I see or maybe better wish for is a platform where the low end uses desktop SB type processors with integrated graphics. The high end machines take a different motherboard with Xeon processors and have implemented on board a discreet GPU.
This would allow Apple to push out a more reasonably priced base model and a high end model with enhanced computational performance. Sort of like what we see now with the Mini but on a grander scale. Think about it the base model would come with a four core Sandy Bridge at maybe $1250, the high end could start with a six core processor and a high performance GPU. With a little custom ordering that high end model could easily support 12 cores.
It would be a good deal for the customer too. He would be able to choose single thread performance or massive numbers of real threads. One could fit the Mac to their needs.