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New iMacs may have Xeon processors that protect your data from cosmic rays

Why it matters to you

Apple's new iMacs are poised to hit the market amid some fierce competition, but powerful internal components could give Apple an edge.

Following a roundtable discussion about the future of the iMac and Mac Pro, it appears that Apple is hard at work on new “server-grade” iMacs, according to reports from supply chain manufacturers in Taiwan.

The new iMac will feature server-grade materials, Digitimes reported today, including components like an Intel Xeon E3-1285 v6 processor and 16 to 64 GB of ECC RAM — a form of memory designed to protect against data corruption that can be caused by cosmic radiation. Seriously.

ECC RAM, or error-correcting code memory, protects your data from “single-bit errors,” which can actually be caused by cosmic rays. These single-bit errors don’t pose a huge threat to most users, but if you handle financial or scientific data on a regular basis, these random errors can be a big deal. By using ECC RAM users who handle very sensitive data can ensure their systems are extraordinarily stable.

The upgraded iMac components will include a new AMD GPU, and could include a desktop-grade discrete GPU, which would be a big improvement over the mobile GPUs in the current lineup. But that remains to be seen, as the Digitimes report mentions only that the new iMacs will feature discrete GPUs.

The new iMacs will hit the market amid competition from Microsoft’s high-end all-in-one, the Surface Studio. Digitimes Research claims HP and Asus could announce their own Surface Studio competitors this year, meaning the iMac could hit store shelves amid a crowded field of competitive high-end all-in-one PCs.

It’s a small segment of the market, but it could see some important growth in 2017 with major manufacturers like Apple and Microsoft going head-to-head with powerful, high-end all-in-ones.

According to supply chain reports, the new iMacs are going into production in May, and should be coming out just in time for the holiday season. There’s still no word on pricing, but you can bet those server-grade components come with a hefty price tag.