Building notes, projects, and occasional rants

Fruit news

The new laptops released yesterday made most of my unread news items this morning.

Overall, they look good, and if you have a fetish for industrial design, then you probably had a picture of Jonathan Ive in the shower today.

I admit that I'm curious to see one live, not that I'm shopping for a new laptop (my 17" should be good for another 2 to 3 years), but the full size glass screen and the new touchpad are intriguing.

The switch from the DVI output to a DisplayPort connector is a usual move for Apple: they want to move to a new display connection, so they look around and pick the one they think will be the future, not the current standard for others.

The lack of FireWire is unfortunate. All my external drives and DVD burners are firewire, which I find much more smooth than USB.

But out of all the news yesterday, my interested focused on two small details.

The first is the 24" LED Cinema Display. The quality is of course amazing, but that was expected of a LED display. The detail that really makes the difference for me is the cable that connects the display to the laptop.

It has three connectors: an obvious DisplayPort, a useful USB2 connector (to access the three port hub on the display itself), and a MagSafe connector.

So you get to your desk, connect the three plugs into your Macbook or Macbook Pro and you don't need extra cables. There, a reasonable docking station. And without a costly dedicated connector on the laptop.

The second detail I found interesting is the NVidia chipset. For me it's not about the games, but about the performance that this GPUs can provide: the GeForce 9400N that powers the entry level MacBooks provides you with 26 Gflops over 8 cores, and on the MacBookPro you get a 9600M GT that bumps that to 122 Gflops over 32 cores.

Some may think that these are just numbers, but lets put that in perspective: if we are to believe the listing of the Top500 Supercomputer sites in June 2005, the top slot was the BlueGene/L, a 64k core system with a peak rate of 183.50 Gflops.

So a $2000 laptop has 65% of the performance of a 2005 Top SuperComputer, in the graphics card alone. Add the Core 2 Duo processor for fun.

But still, the Gflops numbers are pretty meaningless for people who don't use the CPU a lot (like me). But for photo and video editing, there is a lot of potential in there, and for Apple, this raises the expectations bar on Snow Leopard.

The next-year OS is expected to unleash all of this Gflops to an unsuspecting world. I wonder what applications will we see if this power is really readily available.