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Apple won't release a GPU-equipped Thunderbolt Retina 5K display anytime soon - report

Though speculation and rumors have been mounting that Apple could introduce a new high-resolution Thunderbolt Display with its own discrete graphics card, a new report pours cold water on those hopes, saying such a device will not be seen at this month's Worldwide Developers Conference —if ever.

Thunderbolt display


Citing unnamed sources, iMore reported on Thursday that a Thunderbolt-connected monitor with Retina 5K display is "not happening at the keynote or any time in the immediate future." The report did, however, tease that "lots of other amazingly cool stuff" will be unveiled at Apple's June 13 presentation.

The rumblings directly refute an earlier report which suggested Apple could be preparing a Thunderbolt Retina 5K display with its own integrated graphics card. Putting a GPU in the display itself could theoretically ensure that all Macs would be capable of driving the pixels necessary for an ultra-high-resolution screen.

As an extremely niche product in Apple's lineup, the company has shown little interest in its standalone display in recent years. Inventory stockouts have happened repeatedly over the years, helping to create speculation that an update could be forthcoming, but that has yet to happen.

In fact, Apple itself sells alternative displays, like the 4K IGZO Sharp LED monitor, for Mac customers looking for a high-resolution external display.

Thunderbolt technology does allow enough bandwidth for external graphics cards, which some Windows PC makers have taken advantage of, turning portable laptops into gaming powerhouses when docked. Some enthusiasts have even made unofficial workarounds for external GPUs on the Mac, but doing so requires nontrivial hacking and the result is buggy.

With a new Thunderbolt Display apparently off the table, new hardware is not expected at WWDC, where Apple is instead set to focus on the future of iOS and OS X. It's also likely that future updates to tvOS and watchOS will be unveiled at the software-focused conference.