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Images hint at Thunderbolt-equipped Apple display

Apple's 27-inch LED cinema display product could soon be getting the faster-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, letting users daisy-chain Thunderbolt-equipped gadgets.


Apple's 27-inch LED cinema display could soon be joining a host of other Apple products that support the higher-speed Thunderbolt technology.

MacRumors has picked up on a number of non-posted images from depicting the company's $999 display. In the pics, the display sports a new part number (in the URL), and a newer background to match the default of Mac OS X Lion, which is expected to be released next week.

The part number is the same one that was previously believed to be a newer version of Apple's white, entry-level MacBook from a purported parts list that surfaced earlier this week.

It's worth pointing out that there are no images of the back of the display. The current model sports just three USB 2.0 ports, but no mini-Displayport, which has given way to Thunderbolt in other Mac models. However, another image--with what appear to be two of the newer display models (pictured above)--depicts one of the displays plugging into the other.

Perhaps Apple plans to let users mirror or extend displays through USB, but a more likely scenario would be adding a Thunderbolt port to the back, as it's done with the latest-generation iMacs, which share many design similarities with the LED cinema display. After all, if Apple intends to get people using Thunderbolt, which lets users daisy-chain Thunderbolt-equipped gadgets to one another, it can't be taking up the entire port on something like a MacBook Pro without providing a way to string together other gadgets.

Thunderbolt is Apple and Intel's collaborative input/output technology that promises to bring transfer speeds exceeding those currently available with USB 3.0, as well as extending that speed across several devices at once. The technology makes use of existing DisplayPort and PCI-Express data protocols to open up what you can do with a single port into multiple uses and at high speeds. This includes "daisy chaining" up to seven Thunderbolt-equipped devices together, while retaining full speed across all of them at once. The technology first appeared in Apple's MacBooks back in February.

Apple's last refresh to the Cinema Display product came nearly a year ago with the introduction of the 27-inch display, which replaced Apple's 24- and 30-inch models.