The iconic iMac aluminum enclosure houses a bevy of noteworthy upgrades, including Intel's and Advanced Micro Devices' latest silicon and the latest Intel-Apple interface, as iFixit's teardown of the 21.5-inch iMac ably reveals.
Let's look at a below-the-radar item first since there's already been plenty of ink devoted to the marquee features.
Intel Z68 chipset: This is Intel's freshly minted chipset. New enough that you won't find it--at least not prominently--on Intel's Website because it hasn't been officially released. The Z68 supports SSD caching: that is, using a relatively small-capacity, solid-state drive as a "cache" for a larger magnetic hard disk drive (see photo below). Interestingly, this SSD-HDD configuration is widely used in transaction-heavy businesses such as banks, where the top of the storage pyramid is composed of SSDs that act as a cache for the larger-capacity, and slower, magnetic drives.
Intel, in fact, is expected to bring out SSDs targeted specially at this kind of application.
Intel desktop-class Sandy Bridge processors: In the model torn down by iFixit, the processor is a 2.5GHz quad-core Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2400S. This is a pure 32-nanometer processor (previous-generation Intel silicon with graphics integrated into the same chip package was a 50-50 split, the processor was 32nm but the graphics was 45nm). … Read more