In recent weeks, the grapevine has moved from speculating about new iMacs based on quad-core “Nehalem” Intel Core i7 processors to having near-total confidence in the broad strokes of the rumor, merely seeking confirmation of the details. Well, some of the finer details are still embargoed….but we have been able to confirm once & for all that the new iMacs will indeed have four-core Nehalem processors with the associated improved motherboards.
At this point our sources have asked us to withhold precise benchmark numbers (we don’t like reporting third party numbers anyway unless they’re ballpark; it stakes our reputation on too many variables that are out of our hands — even with well-established sources)…but we should be able to report those in the near future once team members are able to put their hands directly on a prototype — and there can be little doubt that these new iMacs will be amazing, incredibly fast performers.
Recently, Apple acknowledged that a considerable majority of their desktop sales are iMacs; a minority are Minis, but only a relatively small number (around 10-12% we’ve heard is the latest internal number) are Mac Pro sales.
At some points, Apple has considered high-end versions of the iMac which would offer four cores — either through twin dual-core chips or a single quad core chip.
Because of cost considerations and potential cannibalization of the higher-margin Mac Pro sales, such a machine hasn’t yet made it to market.
However, the new “Nehalem” Core i7 platform from Intel turns this argument just about completely on its head.
More energy & thermal efficiency, hugely improved performance at both the CPU and motherboard levels, and a “QuickPath” architecture that removes many of the advantage from dual-frontside bus (FSB) designs in this range make Core i7 the perfect choice for taking the iMac to the next level.
Even at the highest 2.93GHz clock speed for the standard (non-Xeon) i7 desktop chips, Nehalem fits very comfortably in the iMac’s compact design — and even helps reduce fan noise further, to virtually silent, over the current designs.
Rather impressive given that it will more than double performance across the board — a more efficient CPU with twice as many cores and a memory architecture that moves from the current iMacs’ dual channel DDR2-800 to triple channel DDR3-1066.