Ivy Bridge offers hope for 'retina display' Macs
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Ivy Bridge offers hope for 'retina display' Macs

Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processors may portend the coming of "retinan display" Macs -- in other words, Macs with ultra high resolution (4096 x 4096 displays).

"VR-Zone" (http://macte.ch/xfvzb) says that Intel recently revealed that they'll be able to support 4K resolutions and process video at that resolution."It's the vastly improved display capability, and associated ultra high resolution video processing, of the new chip -- in fact, so high it stands on an equal footing with the fastest high end discrete GPUs in this particular measurement: the 4K display resolution," the article adds.

Not only can the MFX engine display up to 4096 x 4096 pixels on a single monitor, but it can also handle video processing for 4K QuadHD video as well. Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 4096 x 4096 resolution -- or perhaps "just" 3840 x 2160.

The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing power. But a top-of-the-line iMac with Ivy Bridge processors could certainly handle it.

How pixel-packed is a 4096 x 4096 display? A 1080p screen is 1920 x 1080, so that’s over four times as large. 4K QuadHD packs video into a resolution of 3840 × 2160, slightly below the 4K cinema standard.

"Intel’s Ivy Bridge chip features a unique 3-D transistor which uses a thin silicon ridge in place of the power-conducting strip normally used in 2-D transistors," says "Wired" (http://macte.ch/llOkN). "The change makes the 3-D transistor 30 percent more efficient than planar transistors, with only a 2 to 3 percent price bump. The development is a big step for Intel in its rivalry with chips usingARM architecture, and could allow for portable notebooks to feature a screen similar to Apple’s Retina Display on a larger scale."

Of course there are problems to be resolved. Consider this post (http://macte.ch/2oGeK) from Tim Ricchuiti at "The Elaborated": "If Apple were to do something like [retina displays on Macs], the biggest question I would have is whether or not they’d put something into place for users who genuinely do want much smaller UI elements and much more screen real estate. That is, if Apple were to double their UI, and then use the 2×1080p resolution for the 27-inch iMac, there’s a sense in which current 27-inch iMac users would feel like they were actually losing screen real estate from their current 2560 × 1440 displays. But that’s why Apple’s Apple and I’m a guy writing about them: if and when Retina Displays do come to the Mac, they will have thought that issue through and either solved it, or decided that the set of users who would be upset by it isn’t a large enough group to hold other users back."

It’s likely to be at least 2012 before we see Ivy Bridge processors in our Macs (though Lion already offers support for ultra high resolution displays). Perhaps -- as I've said before -- a high-end iMac with a retina display and other models without it for those who don't want it?

-- Dennis Sellers


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