Apple prepping first Macs with HDMI - sources

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple plans to introduce HDMI connectivity on some of its personal computers this year, embracing an emerging trend that has seen the high-definition audio/video interface crop up on an increasing number of systems from rival PC manufacturers, AppleInsider has learned.



HDMI spotted on Mac mini



More specifically, prototypes of a new Mac mini — Apple's smallest and most affordable system, commonly employed by tech savvy Mac users as an ad-hoc living room media server, has been making the rounds with an HDMI port in place of its legacy DVI connector, according to two people familiar with the matter.



The port sits besides mini DisplayPort connector and marks the first instance of full-featured*HDMI connectivity on a Mac. It also represents only the second Apple product to feature the port outside of the company's fledgeling Apple TV streaming media device. Cosmetically, the Mac mini is otherwise said to look identical to existing models, with no other visible changes to its enclosure.



A bit about HDMI and Macs



HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a cabling standard intended for home theater uses, built on top of the computer-oriented DVI (Digital Video Interface) specification. It uses a compact flat connector instead of the relatively large one used for DVI. Because it's backwardly compatible with DVI on an electronic signaling level, computers with DVI output can drive an HDMI display such as an HDTV using only a physical adapter dongle.



Apple's recent Macs all supply either a standard DVI port or a Mini DisplayPort connector that is also designed to provide DVI signals in addition to DisplayPort, a newer, incompatible video signaling protocol. This makes it simple to connect either port to an HDMI display for video output using a simple converter dongle.



However, the HDMI specification also provides support for audio, something DVI does not. Since there are no audio signals presented on Mac (or PC) DVI (or, apparently, existing*Mac Mini DisplayPort) connectors, there's currently no way to deliver both audio and video from a Mac to an HDMI TV over a simple, single cable.



Apple's existing Mac mini offers users the choice of DVI or mini DisplayPort for video output.



Only Apple TV provides an HDMI connector capable of delivering both audio and video signals to an HDMI display. Including HDMI video connectors on new Mac models would enable users to connect their computer to an HDTV via one cable, rather than needing a separate audio connection or complex cable.



An unannounced version of the Mac mini has been spotted with an HDMI connector instead of a DVI.



Mac mini prototype with Nvidia's MCP89



At least one of the Mac mini prototypes described by those privy to the hardware is said to include Nvidia's MCP89 chipset, which is the successor to the existing MCP79 (or GeForce 9400M) *chipset found alongside Intel's Core 2 Duo processors across the majority of Apple's existing Mac product line.



However, Intel's ongoing licensing dispute with Nvidia will prevent Apple (and other PC makers) from using the MCP89 supporting chipset alongside its latest generation of Nehalem-based Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Therefore, this suggests that Apple may continue to rely on existing Core 2 Duo (pre-Nehalem) processors as part of its upcoming Mac mini revision.



Alternatively, the Mac mini prototype in question could have been in development before Intel's disagreement with Nvidia came to a head, meaning successive prototype revisions that forgo the new Nvidia chipset in favor of Intel's may have since emerged, though there's no evidence thus far to support that theory.



HDMI for other Macs



While adding an HDMI port to the Mac mini is fairly trivial with few tradeoffs, the same can't necessarily be said in regards to Apple's notebook lines, which sport a much smaller footprint and limited real estate for additions to its I/O port makeup.



However, another product floating around Apple's labs is a proprietary mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that the Mac maker had originally developed and intended to ship alongside its most recent iMac revision, according to people with knowledge of the situation. It's said to include technology that would allows Macs shipping with an updated mini DisplayPort spec to channel both video and audio through the mini Display port to the HDMI adapter, rather than just video.



One of the various mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters on the market that doesn't carry audio signals.



Ideally, the adapter was to accompany Apple's move to include Blu-ray drives in the high-end iMac (and offer them as build-to-order options on the rest of the line), allowing the all-in-one desktops to connect to big-screen HDTVs that would leverage their Blu-ray drives and high-def iTunes video content. But a near last-minute decision by Apple to scrap Blu-ray from the iMac line this past fall kept the adapter under wraps. It's therefore possible that it could still emerge as a solution that could accompany a future update to the company's notebook lines.



Blu-ray blues



Apple's move to ax Blu-ray from the iMac line (and several other Macs that were undergoing Q&A testing) was reportedly due to a number of factors. One issue, according to people familiar with the matter, was that Apple management -- including Jobs -- felt Blu-ray licensing fees were too steep for the length of time they believed the technology would remain relevant in the market place. There were also reportedly both software and hardware related issues that would have demanded too much engineer effort to overcome.



If you missed it



In related news, AppleInsider reported earlier this month on Apple's efforts to usher advanced automatic graphics switching into its professional MacBook Pro line sometime this year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 193
    columbuscolumbus Posts: 281member
    Turning the Notebooks and Mac Minis into stealth Apple TV units to play iTunes content.



    I'm kind of hoping ALL miniDPs can output video and sound one day through an adaptor (I have a '08 MacBook Pro), but this doesn't sound too hopeful from the article.
  • Reply 2 of 193
    I hope this means HDMI in for the iMacs - I'd love to be able to plug my PS3 into a new iMac and was terribly disappointed to discover that that wasn't possible with the recent models.
  • Reply 3 of 193
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    I for one would love to see this added across the board...
  • Reply 4 of 193
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Too many unnamed sources for me to take this seriously.
  • Reply 5 of 193
    ch2coch2co Posts: 41member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by psychodoughboy View Post


    I hope this means HDMI in for the iMacs - I'd love to be able to plug my PS3 into a new iMac and was terribly disappointed to discover that that wasn't possible with the recent models.



    I think that you are dreaming. I hope that your are not.
  • Reply 6 of 193
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    no no no NO NO!



    THIS GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING PEOPLE AROUND HERE HAVE BEEN SAYING.



  • Reply 7 of 193
    Hmmm. I wonder if this means Blu-ray drives are a comin'. A home theater computer should contain everything the home theater needs, after all.
  • Reply 8 of 193
    hexorhexor Posts: 57member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by psychodoughboy View Post


    I hope this means HDMI in for the iMacs - I'd love to be able to plug my PS3 into a new iMac and was terribly disappointed to discover that that wasn't possible with the recent models.



    This is possible with an adapter coming out in April by Kanex.
  • Reply 9 of 193
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Apple should move to Intel Light Peak: 10Gbps by 2010 to 2011 and up to 100 Gbps by 2020. One single connector rules them all.
  • Reply 10 of 193
    Tried the other day to connect my MBP to a receiver thru a DVI-to-HDMI-cable. Works, but at least my ONKYO receiver and SHARP LCD-TV gave a couple of unwanted results. The Mac does a great discovery and notes that theres is a TV behind the cable. However, when trying to fit the picture to the screen it offers only two things:



    • a smaller but sharp picture including the whole desktop but a large black area around it

    • a picture filling the TV-screen which actually is to large leaving the outer limits of the desktop outside viewable area.



    Can of course be something else, but just a DVI-to-HDMI adapter needs more than just pins.



    I love this! Either they upgrade AppleTV with some more juice or the skip it and do something creative based on MacMini with HDMI output!!!
  • Reply 11 of 193
    hexorhexor Posts: 57member
    What would be interesting is if the Cinema displays get updated with HDMI.
  • Reply 12 of 193
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple management -- including Jobs -- felt Blu-ray licensing fees were too steep for the length of time they believed the technology would remain relevant in the market place. There were also reportedly both software and hardware related issues that would have demanded too much engineer effort to overcome.



    What? More so then flickering, yellow 27" iMac screens?
  • Reply 13 of 193
    abrooksabrooks Posts: 66member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by psychodoughboy View Post


    I hope this means HDMI in for the iMacs - I'd love to be able to plug my PS3 into a new iMac and was terribly disappointed to discover that that wasn't possible with the recent models.



    That has nothing to do with Mini DisplayPort and everything to do with HDCP.



    If they had HDMI this won't change.
  • Reply 14 of 193
    kasakkakasakka Posts: 55member
    I hope they just enable audio on the mini-Displayport and make a mini-DP -> HDMI adapter available. I'd prefer Displayport to become more successful.
  • Reply 15 of 193
    Wow. I totally don't care. Thanks for saving one adapter and instituting another. How would this be an improvement? I don't need to send audio to my cinema display and I would never use built-in speakers if they had them (personally). It's not like they could get rid of the other audio ports if they did this either. Sounds suspicious, except maybe for the mac mini. I guess there are more and more computer displays with HDMI, but usually as an optional port and not a primary. Whatever, so long as optical/ analog ports remain, who cares?
  • Reply 16 of 193
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    I'm kind of tired of hearing about how often they mess with display adapter technology when we're STILL stuck with USB 2.0. I can't stand syncing my iPhone because it takes forever. Where's eSATA?



    Computer speed has quadrupled in speed and the external technologies haven't changed in almost a decade.
  • Reply 17 of 193
    HDMI may be coming but teh image is clearly faked, half a second with levels in PS shows that
  • Reply 18 of 193
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    What Apple really needs is a Fast pipe, something like Fire Wire but newer. I just got a HD camcorder about a month ago and USB 2.0 couldn't be any slower I think.
  • Reply 19 of 193
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kasakka View Post


    I hope they just enable audio on the mini-Displayport and make a mini-DP -> HDMI adapter available. I'd prefer Displayport to become more successful.



    That is the best solution. A mDP port won't be replaced by HDMI but adding the audio (and data ) option to the cards would make using an HDMI adapter possible.



    Only the Mac Pros and Mac mInis currently have multiple video source options. I can see the mDVI port going away and if HDMI is added then I think Blu-ray may then be an option from Apple.



    However, I have to wonder if the claims of "HDMI spotted on Mac mini" are actually from the next generation AppleTV.
  • Reply 20 of 193
    Well it's about time! This would make a LOT of sense for the Mini, BUT, also NEEDS Blu-Ray!
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