Apple’s new family of iMac all-in-ones released earlier this week boast an Intel BD82Z68 platform controller hub that isn’t scheduled for release until May 11th. The Z68 chip, designed for Sandy Bridge 1155, was first discovered by TonyMacx86 and later confirmed in an iFixit teardown.
The Z68 allows for solid-state drive data caching when a system is equipped with a combination of storage drives. So users could install a small, relatively cheap SSD along with their traditional hard disk drive and have the SSD serve as a cache – dramatically increasing access speeds to their files and applications. The new iMacs can be ordered with both an SSD and a traditional hard disk drive installed, and the Z68 can allow users to see this combination as just one drive on their Mac.
Apple has chosen not to use this caching feature, which, according to one member on the TonyMacx86 forums, is intended to boost the performance of hybrid drives, or smaller, cheaper SSDs. However, the appearance of this chip is an indication that hybrid drives or solid-state boot drive combos could be used in future Macs.
Apple has been known to adopt Intel’s freshest technology at an early stage and has previously been granted short periods of exclusivity with the company’s latest chips. Apple is an early adopter of Intel’s high-speed Thunderbolt port which has just been integrated into its MacBook Pro and iMac families.