In the not-too-distant future, Apple may have to consider a radical redesign of the iMac if it’s to stay competitive in the consumer desktop space (not to mention the prosumer space that the all-in-one Mac also serves). As Danny Bird points out in the November 2007 edition of MacUser magazine, Intel’s processor roadmap for 2008 features multi-core desktop processors dubbed Harpertown.
Harpertown is said to be a 45 nm, quad-core processor based on Intel’s upcoming Penryn microarchitecture with 12 MiB of L2 cache. They’ll boast front-side bus speeds of 1.6GHz alongside 12MB of L2 cache
From what I’ve read Harpertown’s space and heat issues make it impractical for use in laptops—and the iMac is, basically, a souped-up laptop in a desktop computer case (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Bird feels that the Intel processors won’t accommodate the iMac’s slim design, though they’ll work just fine with the Mac Pro’s larger case.
“Unless Apple does something very special with the iMac, it will start to look very expensive next to more powerful PCs [in other words, ones that don’t attempt the iMac’s gorgeous, slim form factor],” the MacUser deputy editor writes. “That, together with the apparently terminal decline of another Apple laptop/desktop hybrid, the Mac mini, could leave Apple struggling to compete in the consumer desktop PC market.”
I can’t imagine Apple abandoning the all-in-one form factor of the iMac nor can I imagine the company, which is doing so well in the computer space now, letting its flagship desktop languish in power behind comparatively priced (or cheaper) PC alternatives. This may necessitate “fatter” (albeit much more powerful) iMacs. Still, I’m sure the Jonathan Ive/Steve Jobs/Apple machine can come up with an eye-popping design even if the iMac doesn’t remain as svelte as it now is.
Hey, sometimes more power just means more bulk. After all, how many skinny NLF linebackers do you know?