With dearth of major chip upgrades from Intel, Apple opts for cheaper Macs in 2014

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited June 2014
Apple fans hoping for significant Mac upgrades have been disappointed thus far in 2014, thanks in part to a lack of next-generation chips from Intel. That trend continued on Wednesday with the launch of a new low-end iMac that's focused on price rather than specs.




The new $1,099 iMac does feature a newer Intel chip: The dual-core i5-4260U, which debuted in the second quarter of 2014. But it also has half the cores and clocks in at 1.3 gigahertz slower than the $1,299 model, while the remaining iMacs remain unchanged, both in terms of price and specifications.

Lower pricing was also the focus in April, when Apple boosted the processors on its MacBook Air lineup by just 100 megahertz. The real selling point of those refreshed models is the price, with a new $899 starting cost positioning the latest MacBook Airs as the most affordable mass-market notebooks Apple has ever sold.

Apple's new $1,099 iMac doesn't quite reach those all-time-low levels for the company's all-in-one desktop lineup. But it does continue a trend of more affordable Macs that thus far has represented Apple's approach for selling new Macs in 2014.

It's possible that Apple's hand may have been forced.

In reality, the company is unlikely to introduce the kind of sweeping changes that dedicated fans desire until more powerful next-generation processors are available. Namely, the MacBook Air is expected to be updated to a new look with a high-resolution Retina display later this year, while iMac holdouts are hoping for a 4K-caliber resolution panel on future desktops.

To power those pixel-packing screens, Apple needs horsepower. And its sole Mac chipmaking partner, Intel, has yet to deliver in that category this year.

Intel
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich shows concept devices running new Quark CPUs. Image via ABC News.


The holdup is in Intel's next-generation chips, dubbed "Broadwell," which have seen numerous delays. Intel has promised that the first Broadwell CPUs will hit the market before the end of the year, but it remains unknown whether any of them will appear in time to power any of Apple's 2014 Mac lineup.

Broadwell is the codename used to refer to a 14-nanometer die shrink of Intel's existing 22-nanometer Haswell architecture. Intel says its new, smaller designs will bring a 30 percent reduction in power consumption while offering the same horsepower.

Apple's rumored MacBook Air with Retina display would be a prime candidate for Intel's more efficient Broadwell chips. The notebook is rumored to pack a high-resolution panel into an all-new 12-inch design that would be offered alongside the current 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs with standard resolution screens.

The 12-inch Retina MacBook Air is also rumored to sport a fan-less design, which would require cooler and more efficient CPUs. Apple is also expected to achieve an exceptionally thin design with a new click-less trackpad and fewer inputs and outputs.

Another potential Broadwell candidate in 2014 would be Apple's high-end MacBook Pro lineup. Little has been said about that anticipated refresh, but if Broadwell chips were to be available in time, it's likely that Apple could offer greater performance with enhanced battery life.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70

    Here we go. Again.

  • Reply 2 of 70
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Yes, there is a similarity between the Air and iMac updates. It makes you wonder if Apple might switch to their own ARM CPUs at some point.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,988member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    Yes, there is a similarity between the Air and iMac updates. It makes you wonder if Apple might switch to their own ARM CPUs at some point.

    How much work would it take to shift to ARM? What do Intel CPUs do that ARM CPUs don't? I've heard acceptable GPUs might be a problem with ARM CPUs. Is the A7/8/whatever fast enough to power a desktop or is Intel still way ahead in this market?

     

    I thought Grand Central was supposed to make it easier and automatic for applications to make use of multiple cores without any/much reprogramming. If so, why aren't we seeing two or three dual or quad core CPUs being used in an iMac? Wouldn't that be a way to improve the overall power of an iMac without having to wait for the latest Intel CPU? If this would work, then maybe the iMac needs to put on a little more girth to fit the extra CPUs. I don't see the iMac getting multiple GPUs, especially since the iMac isn't really geared toward the type of applications that use GPUs for computational power.

  • Reply 4 of 70
    Seriously. Slowest news day ever. They've posted three articles apparently about some low end iMac. If DED writes one, I'm gonna be stunned. Nah, I'm kidding: I won't be stunned.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    How much work would it take to shift to ARM? What do Intel CPUs do that ARM CPUs don't? I've heard acceptable GPUs might be a problem with ARM CPUs. Is the A7/8/whatever fast enough to power a desktop or is Intel still way ahead in this market?


    Fundamentally Intel CPUs don't do anything that ARM CPUs can't, they're both just Turing machines and all Turing machines are equivalent. The GPU question is an important one, mobile GPUs are a long way behind desktop ones. But still, look at some of the 3D graphics on the iPad these days, good enough for all but AAA games.

     

    I don't know how they would perform on CAD or technical apps, that is some important testing Apple has to do in their labs before making the leap.

  • Reply 6 of 70
    http://www.macrumors.com/2014/05/19/intel-broadwell-holiday-season/

    Intel CEO seems pretty confident that Broadwell will ship Q4.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,506member
    Seriously. Slowest news day ever. They've posted three articles apparently about some low end iMac. If DED writes one, I'm gonna be stunned. Nah, I'm kidding: I won't be stunned.

    Doing it this way will maximize Rogifan's chances for using the term "bean counter." He's doing the same thing at MacRumors today. He could set a new record.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    redhotfuzzredhotfuzz Posts: 284member
    I really, really need to upgrade my iMac (2009). So apparently the time is not now? :(

    Will we see any refresh in the fall? I don't know how much longer I can wait. Good grief, Apple.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    flaneur wrote: »
    Doing it this way will maximize Rogifan's chances for using the term "bean counter." He's doing the same thing at MacRumors today. He could set a new record.
    I call it like I see it. And I'm not the only one who thinks this new iMac is overpriced. I do think its a bean counter move. Said the same thing about the 8GB 5C. At least Apple didn't send out a press release on that one.

    There are so many great things about Tim Cook's Apple. They could have really given us a 'whoa' moment pricing this at $899 or even $999. Especially with Windows 8 being such a turd. And I hate seeing Chromebooks gain share in education markets.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    Apple will never switch from the X86. But, unless Intel can keep up with the innovation that Apple expects, Apple will build their own.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    $999 would have been better, IMO.

    So we're sort of in a similar situation that Apple was in in the first half of the last decade. A partner who can't get new parts out fast enough.

    At the very least the Mini could get a bump to Haswell...this current model is the longest-lasting in the Mini's history. It's dated.
  • Reply 12 of 70
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,506member
    redhotfuzz wrote: »
    I really, really need to upgrade my iMac (2009). So apparently the time is not now? :(

    Will we see any refresh in the fall? I don't know how much longer I can wait. Good grief, Apple.

    Did you miss the point of this story? The problem is Intel's, likely the die shrink. What do you want Apple to do?
  • Reply 13 of 70
    good...
  • Reply 14 of 70
    redhotfuzzredhotfuzz Posts: 284member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    Did you miss the point of this story? The problem is Intel's, likely the die shrink. What do you want Apple to do?

     

    How about reducing the price of *all* of these overdue-for-a-refresh models rather than just introduce a single cheaper model that appeals to very few of us on this forum?

  • Reply 15 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    redhotfuzz wrote: »
    How about reducing the price of *all* of these overdue-for-a-refresh models rather than just introduce a single cheaper model that appeals to very few of us on this forum?
    Troll. /s
  • Reply 16 of 70
    I can't understand the release cycle for most of apples products. All we kinda know is iPhones and maybe iPods in the fall and that's it. It's really fustrating not knowing when a new Mac mini or MacBook comes out. Even the software, we only know when the an os will be out but other software who knows.

    I would like to plan out certain upgrades for work. Mainly for budget purposes. I've been a customer for a fairly long time apple and I'm kinda pissed off with a poor schedule and not being able to plan stuff out.
  • Reply 17 of 70
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    On the iMac It's not the chip it's the screen. Outdated.
  • Reply 18 of 70
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Broadwell is the codename used to refer to a 14-nanometer die shrink of Intel's existing 22-nanometer Haswell architecture. Intel says its new, smaller designs will bring a 30 percent reduction in power consumption while offering the same horsepower.

    30 percent reduction in power consumption is a good thing for notebooks, but no big deal for iMac especially if it is the same horsepower. Seems like computers are already as fast as they need to be for consumer use. I think I'll pick up one of the new iMacs, maybe two. One for the kitchen and the other for the guest bedroom, just for surfing an email. I'm waiting for a 27" retina iMac for my home office though.

  • Reply 19 of 70
    formosaformosa Posts: 261member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post



    Apple will never switch from the X86. But, unless Intel can keep up with the innovation that Apple expects, Apple will build their own.

     

    Never say never. Apple's shift from the 68000 (CISC) to PowerPC (RISC) was mostly seamless from the user's point of view. And who saw the shift from PowerPC to Intel? Apple said they were running their last few versions of Mac OS on Intel (for years) before that switch.

     

    And Apple has accumulated companies and new hires for the A-series processor development. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Apple makes the switch to A-series for more products.

  • Reply 20 of 70
    darendinodarendino Posts: 126member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DennyC2013 View Post



    I can't understand the release cycle for most of apples products. All we kinda know is iPhones and maybe iPods in the fall and that's it. It's really fustrating not knowing when a new Mac mini or MacBook comes out. Even the software, we only know when the an os will be out but other software who knows.



    I would like to plan out certain upgrades for work. Mainly for budget purposes. I've been a customer for a fairly long time apple and I'm kinda pissed off with a poor schedule and not being able to plan stuff out.



    Agree, bugger all since October 2013 and NOTHING till October 2014, I am starting to tire of Apple, yes their stuff can be good but boring now and these spec boost are futile, nothing to cream your pants about, even iPhone 6 is not that exciting.

Sign In or Register to comment.