Apple’s New 5K External Display Could Boast an Integrated GPU


Ahead of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, there’s some extra attention being put on Apple’s long-in-the-tooth Thunderbolt Display.

Specifically, the fact that quantities of the external device seem to be dwindling, and Apple doesn’t appear all that ready to replenish stock. As previously reported, quantities of the Thunderbolt Display are starting to drop, with no plans to refill them, in Apple Stores all over the globe. Speculation regarding why that might be happening ramped up almost immediately.

Now, according to several different sources, what Apple could be planning is starting to come to light.

Starting with John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who speculates, following up on a theory by Stephen Foskett, that Apple could be planning on integrating the graphics card, or GPU, into the monitor itself. As Foskett points out, that would mean the 5K monitor would not need two Thunderbolt cables to function. Even using one cable, which forks into two Thunderbolt adapters, wouldn’t be the best scenario.

If that’s the case, the graphics card would make it possible for the 5K display to work with any (newer) Mac, without any ridiculous amount of cabling.

9to5Mac has apparently heard similar rumors, noting in a separate report that they’ve heard Apple is working on an external 5K display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880. That display has an integrated GPU as well. To work properly, the connected device would need Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C.

“Technology within updates to OS X (MacOS 10.12?) software will enable the process to happen seamlessly and automatically. Upon connection to the new Apple Display, the Mac will intelligently decide whether to use its own internal graphics power or rely on the external GPU included with the Thunderbolt display; the more powerful GPU will be used while the less powerful GPU will be inactive. From what we understand, the GPU will not be able to work in concert with the internal GPU at all — it’s one or the other.”

At this point, it’s believed that Apple will indeed announce the external 5K monitor at this year’s WWDC, which takes place between June 13 and June 17. The company recently sent out press invites for the keynote which starts on June 13.

[via Daring Fireball; @SFoskett; 9to5Mac]