updated 12:40 am EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
More evidence of near-term Mac refreshes?
Intel is now shipping second-generation Thunderbolt controllers, previously referred to as "Cactus Ridge," that could accompany a possible refresh of some Mac products in the near future. The controllers are shipping just ahead of the recently-updated April arrival of "Ivy Bridge," the next version of the Core iX family of processors, as well as new Intel "Panther Point" logic board designs that include support for PCIe 3.0 and USB 3, reports specialist site VR Zone.
The controllers are available in three configurations; a 12mm-square DSL3510 that offers a full four lanes of PCI Express and draws up to 3.4 watts of power (more typically 2.8 watts), a similar chipset called the DSL3310 that offers two lanes of PCIe but draws only 2.1 watts, and a half-size (6mm-square) "endpoint" controller called the DSL2210 (Port Ridge) that used only 0.7 watts but didn't offer daisy-chaining. The 3510 would likely be used in any refreshed iMac or revamped Mac Pro, the 3310 in any future notebook configurations.
All three chips will be positioned as smaller, lower-cost and more energy-efficient alternatives to the existing chipsets. The 2210 would likely be used mostly for external storage devices, while the 3510 supports multiple internal DisplayPort sources, meaning it could handle both an Intel video chipset as well as a discrete graphics card simultaneously.
The presence of the chips, which will also go into Windows systems and peripherals that support Thunderbolt, is not evidence that Apple will necessarily refresh any of its Mac products in the near-term, but when combined with the recent constraint on MacBook Pro models, however, it hints at options that Apple is likely to be using or at least considering. [via VR Zone]