Apple announced earlier today that it would be discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display, a line of large external displays that are commonly connected to Macs for extra screen space, prompting rumors that a new Apple 5K display is in the works.
The 27-inch Thunderbolt, which has been in production for five years, will most likely be replaced by a 5K version of the display that may feature an integrated graphics processing unit (GPU) according to Buzzfeed. Given that the model has not been upgraded once since its inception, the news of the Thunderbolt’s discontinuation has hardly surprised observers.
The addition of an internal GPU would be a significant upgrade because such a Thunderbolt would be compatible with almost any Mac, given that it would be driven by a built-in graphics card rather than relying on that of the machine it’s connected to. The current Thunderbolt Display offers a resolution of up to 2560×1440 and ran into compatibility issues with certain models that were unable to support it over a single stream cable.
Some users have reported that running multiple cables in parallel or customizing it using a wireless chip method (e.g. Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter) helps resolve this issue. In any case, a built-in GPU would do much to circumvent such hassles. Other rumored features for the upcoming Thunderbolt are a 5120×2880 display (similar to the iMac with Retina 5K display) and a USB-C port that can support Intel’s Thunderbolt 3.
Apple is planning on selling off its remaining Thunderbolt inventory for the standard price of $999 on Apple.com while supplies last and has advised potential buyers that they may need to turn to third-party vendors to purchase them.
The company has yet to explicitly and officially announce the impending release of an updated Thunderbolt display, so it is anyone’s guess when the new model will become available (though it’s hopefully later this year).