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Thoughts on the likelihood of a GPU/VRAM/Onboard RAM upgrade for the 12” Powerbook?


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Thoughts on the likelihood of a GPU/VRAM/Onboard RAM upgrade for the 12” Powerbook?
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 18:11

As far as the GPU, I think that Apple is long overdue for an upgrade, seeing as how the last three 12” Powerbooks have used the same FX5200 GPU, and the last two 12” Powerbooks have had the same amount of VRAM.

If nothing else, I think (hope) Apple will upgrade the onboard RAM on the 12” Powerbook to 512mb, since even the 12” iBook has 512mb built in (and therefore has a greater maximum capacity).

Other opinions?
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MCQ
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2005-10-13, 18:20

Yes. Agreed.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 18:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCQ
Yes. Agreed.
I hope so. I've been considering purchasing a 12" powerbook, so I hope Apple does not ignore (or essentially ignore) the 12” PB when they get around to upgrading the PB line.

Ideally (for me) they would upgrade all three. However, I'd be fine with “just” a VRAM and onboard ram upgrade.

Edit: And an upgrade to dual-link DVI would also be nice (though that would require a GPU upgrade, which of course is not certain itself at this point).
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 18:27

You're certainly correct on all counts. The iBook now has a Radeon Mobility 9550, as opposed to its previous 9200, so the PowerBook will probably get a faster GPU -- probably either a FX 5600 or a Radeon 9550, but with more (128 MB BTO?) VRAM.

(edit) Couple of misconceptions on my part, sorry.

Last edited by chucker : 2005-10-13 at 18:38.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 18:33

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
You're certainly correct on all counts. The iBook now has a Radeon Mobility 9550, as opposed to its previous 9200, so the PowerBook will probably get a faster GPU -- probably either a FX 5600 or a Radeon 9550, but with more (64 MB) VRAM.

Same for the RAM, 512 MB is minimum on all newly introduced Macs these days; there's no reason to believe it would be different for the PowerBook.
Actually, the 12" Powerbook does come with 64MB of VRAM and 512MB of Ram. Hopefully Apple will upgrade the GPU/VRAM on the 12", or at least make it a BTO option (like 64 vs 128 on the 15" PB) since the 5200 is slower than the 9550, and 128mb of VRAM would be better for HD video output.

And while the 12" Powerbook does come with 512MB of RAM, half is in the memory slot (meaning that you would lose it when you upgrade), limiting the 12" PB's maximum capacity to 1.28GB (which again is lower than even the 12" iBook).
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 18:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebulunite
128mb of VRAM would be better for HD video output.
Actually, it wouldn't much matter, unless we're talking about one of ATI's new chips with hardware H.264 decoding. So far, the H.264 decoding is done on the CPU.

Now I realize you didn't specifically mention H.264, but still: the VRAM is more than enough to handle 1920x1080 (the full HD resolution -- which btw the screen wouldn't even display anyway).

Quote:
And while the 12" Powerbook does come with 512MB of RAM, half is in the memory slot (meaning that you would lose it when you upgrade),
Yeah, but I see them changing that. It'll probably come with 512 in the fixed slot, then options for 1 GB, 1.5 GB or 2.5 GB total.
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PB PM
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2005-10-13, 19:12

There is also the chance that they will drop the 12" PB (low sales) just like the eMac.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 19:23

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
Actually, it wouldn't much matter, unless we're talking about one of ATI's new chips with hardware H.264 decoding. So far, the H.264 decoding is done on the CPU.

Now I realize you didn't specifically mention H.264, but still: the VRAM is more than enough to handle 1920x1080 (the full HD resolution -- which btw the screen wouldn't even display anyway).



Yeah, but I see them changing that. It'll probably come with 512 in the fixed slot, then options for 1 GB, 1.5 GB or 2.5 GB total.
Yeah, that's a good point.

I would hope that a GPU upgrade to the next Powerbooks would feature hardware H.264, but the new iMac's GPU doesn't even feature it.
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psmith2.0
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2005-10-13, 19:31

Well, I'm certain of ONE of these things: the new iBook has 512MB soldered onboard, leaving the sole RAM slot available for whatever you choose.

The 12" PowerBook, unlike the 15" and 17" (with two user-accessible slots) shares that same approach: (1) soldered-on RAM and (1) user slot.

So you can bet your tater that if the $999 iBook has 512MB soldered on and a nice open slot for more, then the more expensive, higher-end 12" PowerBook darn well better have it! People would be quite bothered if they didn't.

And yes, I'd like to see 128MB and graphics comparable to the other two (I asked earlier if there were perhaps heating issues that always kept the 12" PowerBooks with lower graphics cards than the 15" and 17").

If there isn't, it's time the 12" gets brought up to snuff and be more like the other PowerBooks and less like an iBook. I'd love a 12" PowerBook (over my current 15"), but it always seems so lagging in some area, and not nearly as future-proof or well spec'd as the other two.
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 19:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
And yes, I'd like to see 128MB and graphics comparable to the other two (I asked earlier if there were perhaps heating issues that always kept the 12" PowerBooks with lower graphics cards than the 15" and 17").
As far as I know, the GeForce FX5200 mobile currently used exists in a 128 MB configuration, and somehow I doubt that additional RAM would increase heat. Naturally, a higher-clocked chip certainly would (unless more efficient). I really think this is more a question of margin.

(Then again, I hear all the time that 12-inch PowerBooks get seriously hot, so maybe heat is in fact an issue keeping Apple from doing upgrades?)
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BlueRabbit
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2005-10-13, 20:09

They don't get 'seriously' hot, but it's noticeable. Definitely hotter than a 15", especially when doing anything CPU-intensive.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 20:11

As far as hardware H.264, it is only available on the Radeon X1800, X1600 and X1300. While I wouldn't mind a X1300 (or greater) powered Powerbook, I doubt that Apple would move to that after announcing a media-centered iMac with only a X600.

And if the new Powerbooks featured one of the new H.264 decoding Radeons, I would assume that Apple would have showed it yesterday with at the media event...

Still, one can hope.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 20:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
As far as I know, the GeForce FX5200 mobile currently used exists in a 128 MB configuration, and somehow I doubt that additional RAM would increase heat. Naturally, a higher-clocked chip certainly would (unless more efficient). I really think this is more a question of margin.

(Then again, I hear all the time that 12-inch PowerBooks get seriously hot, so maybe heat is in fact an issue keeping Apple from doing upgrades?)
Well, a FX5200 with 128mb of VRAM would be better than nothing.
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MCQ
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2005-10-13, 20:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM
There is also the chance that they will drop the 12" PB (low sales) just like the eMac.
Have proof on the low sales? I can't say either way whether or not it's selling well, but I'd be pretty angry if they dropped it.

For what it's worth, Amazon has the 12" PB's at slots 7 and 10 in their top sellers for laptops, above any of the 15"/17" versions.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 20:19

New PowerBooks, Power Macs due shortly - AppleInsider

Quote:
Although previous reports had indicated that the PowerBooks would see a slight speed bump to 1.7GHz via Freescale's MPC7448 G4 microprocessor, more recent information suggests that Apple may have scrapped these plans. Instead, sources say the PowerBooks may continue to utilize the MPC7447A running at 1.67GHz, which is the same processor used in the existing PowerBook line.

Much of the allure that will surround the new 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks will be due to component enhancements such as higher-density displays. Previously published Apple documentation hints that the 17-inch model will sport a native resolution near 1920 x 1200 pixels.

Internally, the new PowerBooks are said to sport DDR2 memory (and the Intrepid 2 chipset), larger hard disk drives, slightly improved battery life and dual-layer DVD burning SuperDrives. There's also a possibility, sources say, that dual-layer SuperDrives included with the systems will be Blu-ray drives. However, this is far from certain (and we wouldn't count on it).

Sources say Apple plans to unveil the new 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook systems on October 19th through its website, though a number of factors could delay an announcement till the following week. Meanwhile, the fate of the 12-inch PowerBook continues to hang in the balance with sources predicting minor, if any, revisions to the offering.
That doesn't sound too good (for the 12" PowerBook).

Then again, that certainly is better than sources saying they are certain there will be no upgrade...and again, this isn't official information.

At any rate, it looks like the biggest upgrade to the 15” and 17” Powerbooks (according to the article) will be higher-density displays (which the 12” Powerbook doesn't exactly need). I would assume that DDR2 would be adopted for all new Powerbooks.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 20:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCQ
Have proof on the low sales? I can't say either way whether or not it's selling well, but I'd be pretty angry if they dropped it.

For what it's worth, Amazon has the 12" PB's at slots 7 and 10 in their top sellers for laptops, above any of the 15"/17" versions.
And I would think that if Apple was going to drop it, they would have announced it yesterday (along with the eMac).
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 20:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebulunite
As far as hardware H.264, it is only available on the Radeon X1800, X1600 and X1300. While I wouldn't mind a X1300 (or greater) powered Powerbook, I doubt that Apple would move to that after announcing a media-centered iMac with only a X600.
I only pointed it out as a possibility but I really don't see it happening either, although there's always separate H.264 decoding chips. (I think the days of using hardware-based decoding for one codec in particular are over for laptops and desktops. Such features are essential for embedded setups, but not for a 12-inch PowerBook. With increased performance, it may well be fast enough to decode H.264 at its screen resolution anyway.)
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 21:00

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebulunite
Well, a FX5200 with 128mb of VRAM would be better than nothing.
It would be ACRMDD* at its best though: the iBook gets a newer GPU with the same VRAM, the Mac mini gets the same GPU but more VRAM and the PowerBook, finally, also gets the same GPU but more VRAM.

Apple Confusing Retarded Marketing Decisions Department.
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 21:03

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
I only pointed it out as a possibility but I really don't see it happening either, although there's always separate H.264 decoding chips. (I think the days of using hardware-based decoding for one codec in particular are over for laptops and desktops. Such features are essential for embedded setups, but not for a 12-inch PowerBook. With increased performance, it may well be fast enough to decode H.264 at its screen resolution anyway.)
That is a possibility (H.264 decoding chips) though again if the media-centered iMac doesn't feature one I wouldn't except Powerbooks to have it. If any Mac had one it would most likely be a HD resolution upgraded 17” Powerbook.

Does anyone know how H.264 preforms on current Powerbooks?
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Zebulunite
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2005-10-13, 21:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
It would be ACRMDD* at its best though: the iBook gets a newer GPU with the same VRAM, the Mac mini gets the same GPU but more VRAM and the PowerBook, finally, also gets the same GPU but more VRAM.

Apple Confusing Retarded Marketing Decisions Department.
Can't argue there.
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PB PM
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2005-10-13, 21:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCQ
Have proof on the low sales? I can't say either way whether or not it's selling well, but I'd be pretty angry if they dropped it.

For what it's worth, Amazon has the 12" PB's at slots 7 and 10 in their top sellers for laptops, above any of the 15"/17" versions.
I thought I saw that somewhere here, but maybe not. I was thinking mroe along the lines of, if they drop it, that would be the only good reason to do so.
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jamie
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2005-10-13, 21:17

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebulunite
I would assume that DDR2 would be adopted for all new Powerbooks.
DDR2 would require a chipset update. IMO adding DDR2 support alone would not be worth the design, manufacturing, and QA costs especially considering coming transition. If a chipset update were planned then I'd expect more radical changes as well.

If the plan is a minimum amount of work to refresh the PB line up then:

* PC3200
* 7448
* Higher resolution displays

Ditch the 5200 graphics in support of 9700 and call it good. This won't entice me to upgrade my year old 1.5ghz 15".

edit: lazy fingers, that's what coding all day does

Last edited by jamie : 2005-10-13 at 23:41.
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 21:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebulunite
Does anyone know how H.264 preforms on current Powerbooks?
HD H.264 System Recommendations

According to this, a 12-inch PowerBook is already well capable of playing 480p content at 24 fps, if not 30 fps (seeing as it's faster than the cited specs). Since the current display doesn't have the resolution to really show larger content anyway, it should be fine.

If Apple were to switch to a widescreen resolution, however, such as 1280x800, 720p content would be watchable size-wise, and that's where the PowerBook would be at the edge.
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Luca
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2005-10-13, 21:33

Ugh. The 12" is in desperate need of an overhaul more than any other Mac right now. It's pathetic compared to the higher end PowerBooks and not much better than the far less expensive iBooks... it's even worse than the iBooks in a few areas (other than price).

I know people have been asking for the 12" PowerBook to get the same internal guts as the 15" and 17" ones, but so far that hasn't happened. The closest it got was probably the very first revision, when it had some better internal components than the 15" Titanium (the Aluminum didn't come out for nearly a year after the 12" and 17" ones were introduced) and similar features to even the 17". After that, it's just fallen behind and Apple's never put any real effort into improving it. You don't get a powerful GPU or 128 MB of VRAM like you do with the bigger PowerBooks, you miss out on DL DVI, there's no option for an illuminated keyboard, it only has one RAM slot, and it doesn't have a wide-aspect screen (lots of laptops have very small widescreens now; the Dell 700M has been around for a year and has a 12" widescreen). Apple really has three tiers of laptops, just as it has three tiers of desktops.
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 22:03

I agree that the 12-inch PowerBook is the bastard child of the line, and still, I want it, because I would like to have a laptop that is both small and "luxury". What I would like to see happen pretty much matches Luca's and pscates' ideas:
- replace its form factor with that of a widescreen 13-inch laptop.
- naturally, change the resolution then to, for instance, 1152x720. About 5.5% more screen space compared to the previous 1024x768, and enabling you to watch, gasp, 720p, at least space-wise (not necessarily performance-wise).
- add an illuminated keyboard. Better yet, make this a standard feature of the PowerBooks. Be the first for once, Apple!
- add optical audio. Again, here's a chance to offer it as a standard feature and be ahead of the others.
- improve the GPU. Sheesh! 64 MB VRAM is almost low-end these days on a laptop. At least make 128 MB an option.
- price tag this as $1499, and I'll buy it. Without hesitation.
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Luca
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2005-10-13, 22:10

720p = 1280x720. A 13" widescreen would work really well at 1280x800 anyway. I'm pretty sure that's the resolution that most PC laptops with widescreens use.
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psmith2.0
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2005-10-13, 22:16

Oops...I don't know what I'm talking about. Never mind.
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chucker
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2005-10-13, 22:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca
720p = 1280x720.
Oops. Right. I was experiencing a brain fart converting between 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10.

Quote:
A 13" widescreen would work really well at 1280x800 anyway. I'm pretty sure that's the resolution that most PC laptops with widescreens use.
I wouldn't mind that but that's higher than Apple's usual dpi resolution. It's also very close to what the 15-inch has (1280 x 854). So unless they change both (use higher dpi across the line of PowerBooks and thus also use higher resolutions across the line), I don't see that happening. Of course I'd like a higher dpi number, but Apple would probably rather wait for a resolution-independent UI for this.
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Luca
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2005-10-13, 22:28

They could afford to go to a higher DPI I think. All the rumor places are saying the next PowerBooks will get an improved resolution, so if the 12" goes widescreen it should get a higher resolution internal screen as well. OS X has a lot of adjustability - I remember OS 9 and lower being uncomfortable to run higher than 1024x768, because all the UI elements were very small. They were designed for the 512x342 screen of the original Mac and never changed size until OS X. With Aqua, everything got BIGGER. And you can make the dock, icons, and a lot of the text as big as you want. Not everything, of course, but a lot of it. I think as long as it doesn't get ridiculous, Apple can afford to jump the PowerBooks to around 120 PPI. No putting a 1920x1200 native resolution on the 15" PowerBook (which is something Dell does with their 15" widescreens, sometimes).
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psmith2.0
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2005-10-13, 22:45

Was just looking at some of Sony's laptops. They have some 11.1" widescreens at 1366x768, and some 13.3" widescreens at 1280x800.

Next time I'm at Best Buy or Staples, I'm going to actually take a look at and pay attention to their various PC laptops, and check a few of the smaller ones out. I don't think I've seen an 11" or 13" widescreen in real life, at the above resolutions.

From the sound of that latest AppleInsider piece, maybe folks are just better off waiting for an Intel (Yonah?) PowerBook sometime - hopefully - in 2006.

If these PowerBook updates stay with the 1.67GHz and/or the 12" is barely touched, that all but points to PowerBooks getting Intel stuff ASAP (the next time around)...possibly debuting at WWDC?

I don't know how in the world Apple will have a "non-update update" and THEN stretch it to 8-10 months without people wigging out.

Poor 709 is gonna lose it!

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