It may not have arrived at Macworld, as some thought possible, but it looks like we could yet see a quad-core iMac from Apple in 2009.
The rumors have gained renewed strength based on news from Intel regarding new, low power quad-core processors that they’ve just released. The new processors are designed for desktop use, in contrast with the existing low-power notebook chips, and as such would represent a departure for the iMac line, which typically uses mobile processors.
The new Core 2 Quad processors introduced by Intel are low power, but they still use far more energy than the existing Core 2 Duo mobile chips used in current models, and generate far more heat. Intel, however, clearly is thinking about the chips with the iMac or iMac competitors in mind, saying they’re designed for “sleek and cool desktops.” I can’t think of many other machines that fit that description, can you?
Of course, there’s a big difference between wishful thinking on Intel’s part and what Apple will actually do. Even if affordable, do quad-core iMacs make sense from Cupertino’s perspective? Basic logic would seem to suggest that the move from duo to quad-core processors would be a natural next step, but there’s the question of what it would mean for Apple’s clearly delineated product categories.
Quad-core iMacs would probably sap some entry-level power users away from the Mac Pro line of desktops, since, if Apple stays true to form, pricing levels will not change with hardware improvements. It is true that eventually the line will probably have to go that way, but Apple generally makes sure that their higher-end products stand enough apart from their more widely appealing computers that corporate buyers for media professionals know where they have to put their money.
As evidence that the quad-core iMacs could indeed be based on these new chips, AppleInsider cites older rumors that suggested Apple was working on new cooling methods for their all-in-one desktop that could handle the excess heat generated by the more power-hungry chips.