Buffer is one way of looking at it. Another way is a multiple-issue pipeline.
Or, perhaps, they are absurdly bad at catching the real ones, so they must turn the imaginary ones into real ones since they are much easier to catch.
"to arouse lust towards children" One could equally say that this satisfies said lust without, you know, involving any real children...
I'm probably feeding the troll, but who the fuck cares if the middle is not thin? Heck, I'd say who the fuck cares if the sides aren't thin - I have no problem with the look of the inch-thick '07 aluminum iMac. It'd be sheer insanity to try and make the whole thing as thin as a laptop, with the power supply inside of it. You can save quite a bit of money by not making it super-thin where the guts are.
These days the "hackery" is equivalent to booting to a working partition (can be on a USB stick) and running Multibeast. It's about as fire-and-forget as it gets.
There are two ways to a hackintosh: using random hardware, and using hardware that's purposefully selected to use the same components that Apple uses in their hardware. The "I''ll just try running OS X on whatever I have" route is perilous and ill-advices. Buying stuff from tonymacx86's buyer guide is a much saner choice, and it worked great for myself.
I've been using one for almost a year now, and there's no looking back. It was only tricky to set up because initial releases of Mavericks were trickier than the current release. I'd say it was a day well spent to set it all up. These days, using it is no different than using any Apple hardware would be, except that after OS version upgrades one has to reboot to the recovery partition and re-run Multibeast.
Modern HDDs media have coercivity so high that the Earth's magnetic field, and the fields from nearby "electronics", are immaterial. The best thing you can do to a HD is leave it alone, not spinning, in a non-condesing atmosphere. As long as the spindle doesn't seize up due to lubricant migration, it might well last for centuries.
Graphics cards really need bandwidth only for texture uploads, and if you're shuttling images between the CPU and the GPU. For many high-performance games, the bandwidth requirement for the CPU-GPU links is rather models.
Thankfully, it acts as a PCIe bridge, too
OS X server, a $20 purchase, lets you manage iOS devices and install whatever apps you want on them. Yes, without having to obtain App Store blessing. I don't think that the walled garden concept can be reasonably still thought applicable. Given that you get a reasonable device management capability for $20, I'd tend to think of it as a bargain, actually.
Why would I care?
"My late 2009 i7 iMac is unfortunately still going strong" Unfortunately? You're getting your money's worth! Enjoy it. With 16G of ram and a fusion drive it's likely a screamer. I only upgraded the late '07 iMac to the latest model a few months ago since every once in a while I need to do ports builds and they took a day on that '07 model and I got tired of waiting
Apple products have excellent resale value, I don't think of it as ridiculous at all. You're reaping the benefits of a solid brand, even many years after the purchase. What's not to like?
A buddy of mine is evaluating a design of a small 32 node HPC cluster with nothing but thunderbolt as point-to-point interconnect. So far the results are very positive, and it's a huge bang for the buck. I don't think you quite know what you're talking about, because the presence of an ethernet controller "somewhere in the system" would be immaterial.
First of all, Firewire was never able to transfer arbitrary PCI traffic, thus you couldn't use it to attach external PCI/PCIe devices to your portable device. When PCIe "extender" solutions became available, they were expensive and bulky. The connectors were huge, and the cable thick, and sometimes it would just refuse to work in a particular setup. Thunderbolt provides this kind of functionality on a manageable, off-the-shelf interconnect that you can buy in nearby Walmart. A brand name thunderbolt single x16 PCIe card cage runs about $500, and you can buy off-brand ones for half that. This lets you pull off stunts like adding two graphics cards to your laptop. I'd say calling it a "bigger flop than firewire" is borderline trolling.
Connecting "directly" to PCIe for expansion/extension purposes is setting the clock 10 years back - if you have any PCIe to attach to begin with. Fewer and fewer laptops have expressCard slots, and some high end laptops rightfully (IMHO) got rid of them. I don't really miss expressCard on MacBooks. Thunderbolt is much easier to deal with.