Within the last week, Apple announced that it would discontinue its Thunderbolt Display, originally released back in 2011. The display offered a respectable resolution of 2560 x 1440 which, in more recent times, has been surpassed by higher 4K, 5K and ultra wide resolutions.
However, the problem faced by Apple has involved the limitations of external display connectivity in its current Macs, specifically DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4. While a 5K display could be driven by DisplayPort 1.3, neither the Skylake nor Kaby Lake CPUs natively support it, necessitating the use of proprietary technologies or multiple cables.
Despite the seemingly bleak state of affairs, rumors of a next-generation display have persisted. Citing an anonymous source Buzzfeed managing editor John Paczkowski tweeted that a "next-gen display will indeed have integrated GPU." This solution would be akin to an iMac with all but the GPU, display and power components removed while allowing any of the current Macs, including the base model 12-inch MacBook, to gracefully power a 5K display.
While Thunderbolt connected displays are nothing new, this would be one of the first to contain its own dedicated GPU. This approach would avoid the need for a separate bulky enclosure, such as the Razer Core, designed for the Razer Blade Stealth ultrabook. At present, it remains unclear if an integrated GPU in the rumored next-gen display could be upgraded in the future but, with none of Apple's current computer lineup, including the Mac Pro, affording this capability it would seem unlikely.
With a formal announcement from Apple still pending, the company could potentially release a refreshed Thunderbolt Display alongside an updated MacBook Pro range, due in the fourth quarter of the year. The upgraded MacBook Pro range would reportedly also include both USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 support.