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chucker
 
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2019-07-27, 18:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Intel likely could not (because they are using their own fab processes rather than Asian fab techniques)
TSMC manufactures Intel’s cellular modems.
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PKIDelirium
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2019-07-27, 20:34

I expect it's more likely that SpaceX's Starlink constellation will provide a global network via wifi than it is Apple will build a "traditional" cellular network at this point.

Early '09 Mac mini (El Capitan), iPhone 7 (iOS 12.3), iPad Air 2 (iOS 12.3), Mid '10 MacBook Unibody (High Sierra), Mid '05 14" iBook G4 (Tiger)
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kscherer
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2019-09-19, 11:45

Well, this Apple processor thing continues onward. The A13 carries on the aggressive annual upgrade cycle. And I was wondering something:

Are we counting "cores" properly? What I mean is that the core-count in the A-series chips is … off? Apple claims 6 CPU cores, and that is, of course, true. But, Is that all the "cores" there are? And is Apple thinking about "cores" the same way the rest of the industry is? I was just looking at the CPU image Apple posted during the keynote, and I think the answer is "no".

The actual cores look like this:
  • CPU - 6 cores (4 efficiency cores; 2 power cores)
  • Neural Engine - 8 cores
  • Machine Learning - 2 cores
  • GPU - 4 cores (yes, I know the GPU is "separate" except that it no longer is, even in Android land)

Technically, the A13 has 20 identifiable processor cores, each of which is serving specialized tasks. Now, I'm not trying to make argument or overstretch my knowledge, here. I'm just wondering if the concept of "cores" is changing as far as Apple's efforts are concerned. With control over the entire product, we know they are creating cores in direct support of software functionality. And Apple directly calls these areas out as cores.

What you guys think?

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chucker
 
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2019-09-19, 14:44

(Disclaimer: IANA hardware engineer)

This gets tricky fast. For example, the MacBook Air has an Ambery Lake-Y processor. It has two cores, right? Except it kind of doesn't. For one, there's the whole hyperthreading deal that gives it four "virtual" cores. But secondly, it comes with the UHD Graphics 617 GPU, which has 24 "execution units" and 192 "shading units". Let's ignore shaders for now; that still doesn't really make the 8210Y a 26-core chip. (Except it kind of does; see below.)

The way you split it in categories makes sense to me. Assuming execution units are roughly equal to "cores", that would give it:
  • 2 CPU cores
  • 24 GPU cores

If you take an algorithm that runs in a GPGPU setting like OpenCL/CUDA/Metal, you can in fact make that code run on 26 cores, in parallel.

Just, in practice, you'll rarely run into that scenario. Little code is parallelizable at all, and way less code is equally well-suited for the CPU as it is for the GPU.

So your question is interesting, but hard to answer. Safari isn't gonna use those Neural Engine cores to render the AppleNova site any time soon.

And just as adding cores has diminishing returns, pointing out the core count has diminishing usefulness when those cores are increasingly specialized.
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kscherer
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2019-09-19, 15:45

Yeah, that's kinda my thinking. Apple seems well poised to continue adding very specialized "cores" as the software dictates. We know that certain apps (like the camera app) already take advantage of this specialty separation, which means developers should also have access to at least some of that tech.

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Frank777
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2020-02-25, 02:52

So everybody was buzzing today about the ARM switch leak/projection.

This report still doesn't make sense to me. Or to be more precise, the timing doesn't make sense.

ARM chips in Macs are definitely coming, but Apple will have 5nm chips in hand this June. Obviously there needs to be lead-time for developers, but those same developers will also need a reference machine to test with. And anyone who is paying attention knows that Apple has been testing this idea for quite a while.

I think a new ARM-based Mac Mini gets unveiled at WWDC, and is pitched as a testbed for developers. If it's going to be really close to a 'one-click to recompile apps' (followed by a couple months of tweaking... ) it makes no sense to wait. This is different from the PowerPC or Intel transitions, all the major apps' codebases are relatively new. There's no need for a six-month wait to see an ARM machine.
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chucker
 
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2020-02-25, 06:47

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
I think a new ARM-based Mac Mini gets unveiled at WWDC, and is pitched as a testbed for developers. If it's going to be really close to a 'one-click to recompile apps' (followed by a couple months of tweaking... ) it makes no sense to wait. This is different from the PowerPC or Intel transitions, all the major apps' codebases are relatively new. There's no need for a six-month wait to see an ARM machine.
Maybe.

I kind of only see ARM-based Macs on the low end for now — the MacBook Air, for example. (Maybe the reintroduction of a smaller Air.)

The Intel transition came at a time when PowerPC CPUs, particular in mobile, were significantly slower than what Intel Core had to offer, in part because Intel Core offered two cores, even on laptops (with the exception of the oddball Mac mini Core Solo), whereas on PowerPC, a multi-core setup had only been feasible on the Power Mac tower. That meant for the iMac and MacBook Pro that were first released that even at emulation, apps still felt reasonably usable.

We are unlikely to see this kind of leap again. Apple's ARM CPUs offer Apple more control, and they also seem to do a better job offering high single-core performance at low power draw than Intel has been doing. But I've seen no evidence that, at higher TDPs, Apple would far significantly better at Intel. People seem to extrapolate this, but there's simply little basis.

That means that:
  • ARM isn't — for now — very compelling for the higher-end Macs in terms of performance. It's unlikely to do much better than Comet Lake-H. It's very unlikely to do much better than Cascade Lake-W.
  • assuming there even is emulation at all: on those higher ends, where performance-critical apps matter more, and are likely not to be compiled for ARM, an ARM-based Mac would actually be a significantly worse product than its predecessor

But on the low end? Those apps matter less, and the power advantage matters more. So if ARM Macs happen at all, I'd say the first one will be a MacBook Air. As for Pro models, I'm not sure that will ever happen. It's a solution in search of a problem.
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kscherer
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2020-02-25, 11:03

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
But on the low end? Those apps matter less, and the power advantage matters more. So if ARM Macs happen at all, I'd say the first one will be a MacBook Air. As for Pro models, I'm not sure that will ever happen. It's a solution in search of a problem.
Two things to say about this:

1) Yes, the MacBook Air is a great place to start, and so is the Mac Mini. However, neither of them is likely to be called that.

2) It is not a problem in search of a solution any more than it was for iPhone. Intel is not giving Apple what they want, and Apple is going to take matters into their own hands. Plus, Apple will develop ARM-X and Mac OS-X alongside each other and optimize performance just as they have on iPhone. This will give them a future performance advantage—and it may take ten years or more. It won't be right away, but it will happen eventually. They have the best chip design team on Earth, and I bet they already have it (Air/Mini at least) running in the labs.

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Frank777
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2020-02-25, 14:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Apple's ARM CPUs offer Apple more control, and they also seem to do a better job offering high single-core performance at low power draw than Intel has been doing. But I've seen no evidence that, at higher TDPs, Apple would far significantly better at Intel. People seem to extrapolate this, but there's simply little basis.
They would also save Apple a kazillion dollars. And this is a company that does practically anything to increase or hold on to its profit margins.
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chucker
 
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2020-02-25, 15:47

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Two things to say about this:

1) Yes, the MacBook Air is a great place to start, and so is the Mac Mini. However, neither of them is likely to be called that.
I don't see why not. Nothing about either product name screams Intel. They may not even want to emphasize the architecture change in marketing at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
2) It is not a problem in search of a solution any more than it was for iPhone. Intel is not giving Apple what they want, and Apple is going to take matters into their own hands. Plus, Apple will develop ARM-X and Mac OS-X alongside each other and optimize performance just as they have on iPhone.
I think you have a very different vision there. I don't think there will be an "ARM-X" any more than there was an "Intel-X". It will simply be another architecture. Some old apps won't run. Some might run in an emulator. Some new stuff might happen (honestly, probably not that much, since T2 is already a thing).

iOS was different in part because the original iPhone was so severely resource-constrained (at this point, I'm certain they regret some of its early design decisions!), and in part because they wanted a clean break. How do you market a clean break on the Mac? And why, for that matter? No amount of marketing will significantly grow the Mac ever again (that ship has sailed for any PC manufacturer), so you want to gradually modernize as they have been, not radically alter things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
This will give them a future performance advantage—and it may take ten years or more. It won't be right away, but it will happen eventually. They have the best chip design team on Earth, and I bet they already have it (Air/Mini at least) running in the labs.
Of course they have Macs running on ARM. (They might also have Macs running on RISC-V. Heck, they might move from ARM to that at some point, if only to save on licensing costs.)

But there's simply zero outside knowledge on how Apple's chips scale to the needs of a MacBook Pro, let alone a Mac Pro. And even if it does scale great, what's the point of manufacturing a CPU with such low volume as that on the Mac Pro? At best, you're angering your existing customers because you broke their stuff again. At worst, you also don't really deliver a performance advantage.

"Best chip design team on earth"? Well, these things come and go. One of the key designers of Apple Ax is now at Intel.

They've been doing terrific work. Don't jinx it by having expectations that cannot realistically be met.
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PB PM
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2020-02-25, 20:52

Then again there are also rumors that Apple is testing AMD Ryzen chips, so who knows what they'll do. Of course a move from Intel to AMD for the high end system would be easy, being that they are still X86.
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chucker
 
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2020-02-26, 05:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Then again there are also rumors that Apple is testing AMD Ryzen chips, so who knows what they'll do. Of course a move from Intel to AMD for the high end system would be easy, being that they are still X86.
Yeah. They wouldn’t have to announce it at all. Maybe some tooling at WWDC for optimizations.

But then simply a 13-inch 8-core Ryzen 4000.
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Frank777
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2020-03-06, 12:33

Those A-chip Macs can't get here soon enough.
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kscherer
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2020-03-06, 13:13

Keep in mind that Spectre and others also affected A-series chips, so there is no guarantee that custom ARM-X will be invulnerable.
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turtle
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2020-03-06, 15:45

The thing about this new vulnerability is that physical access is required. That almost always in limited and mitigates most of the vulnerability. Sure if someone has access to your machine you're going to be screwed anyway. Access and time is all it takes to break any encryption.

Sure this looks bad, but where the rubber meets the road there is so little real world threat that it really is a non-issue... at least as I read the vulnerability works.

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chucker
 
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2020-03-06, 15:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
Those A-chip Macs can't get here soon enough.
There have been Apple A series chips with unpatchable security flaws. It happens.
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Frank777
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2020-03-13, 16:06

Anyone have thoughts on whether the current world situation will impact an A-chip-for-Mac announcement?

Apple is moving WWDC to a streaming-only format, much of which will get drowned out by Covid19 coverage.

I can't imagine this is how they would want to roll out a major architecture change.
But they might be too far down the (assembly) line to delay for a year.
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PB PM
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2020-03-13, 19:15

Considering that TSMC makes the chips for Apple, the current situation very much could change things.
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turtle
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2020-04-23, 07:35

Looks like Bloomburg is saying next year we see Macs with A14 (or similar) chip in them instead of Intel.
Quote:
The first Mac processors will have eight high-performance cores, codenamed Firestorm, and at least four energy-efficient cores, known internally as Icestorm. Apple is exploring Mac processors with more than 12 cores for further in the future, the people said.

In some Macs, Apple’s designs will double or quadruple the number of cores that Intel provides. The current entry-level MacBook Air has two cores, for example.
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chucker
 
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2020-04-23, 08:46

Quote:
In some Macs, Apple’s designs will double or quadruple the number of cores that Intel provides. The current entry-level MacBook Air has two cores, for example.
It should be noted that, beyond some sweet spot, more cores don't translate to more performance. Eight high-performance cores is probably pretty close at this point to what most people will take good advantage of.

And, with Apple's chips in particular, where they really strive is in single-core performance, which helps with a ton of scenarios (especially the web: JavaScript is by and large single-threaded).

I feel like Gurman is either overstating this aspect, or doesn't really know what he's talking about.
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PB PM
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2020-04-23, 08:52

Indeed, for most users 4-8 cores is more than enough. The only time most users will test that kind of power would be editing a home video. If Apple can match the single thread IPC of entry level AMD/Intel chips that’s fine, but I cannot see these taking hold beyond entry level models at this point, even a year from now it is questionable. I just don’t see ARM based chips competing with the high end i5s/i7s/i9 processors any time soon.
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Bryson
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2020-04-23, 09:05

Have we discussed what this move might mean for Boot Camp / Parallels? I rely on them to do my day to day work, now that BlueBeam have discontinued the Mac version. It would suck to have to buy a work PC to go alongside my Mac.
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kscherer
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2020-04-23, 09:42

Windows is running at least partly on ARM, so there's that.
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chucker
 
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2020-04-23, 12:04

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryson View Post
Have we discussed what this move might mean for Boot Camp / Parallels? I rely on them to do my day to day work, now that BlueBeam have discontinued the Mac version. It would suck to have to buy a work PC to go alongside my Mac.
It's hard to say.

Assuming Mac on ARM is a thing at all, the next question is: will it be a thing only for low-end models, or also for ones where some people use Boot Camp or virtualization?

If they only do the low end, I think they'll just throw the entire subject under the rug.

If they also do the high end, I don't think that's an option (and if it is, I'm probably outta here).

Here's one thing they could do. Windows does run on ARM, and includes an emulator, albeit only for 32-bit apps. Apple might go into some kind of licensing agreement to make the A14M compatible enough with Qualcomm's Windows chips (e.g., the Microsoft collaboration 'SQ1') that Windows boots. (I'm told people have managed to boot it without Qualcomm's help, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Qualcomm agrees in terms of licensing…)

That would mean ARM apps on Windows would just work, and fairly fast at that, but they're kind of far and few between (MS Office? nope!). Other apps would run in emulation. But presumably, that's also the case on macOS: either Apple ships an emulator, or you'll find yourself waiting for apps to be ported. It's just that Apple is far better at convincing third parties (and their own teams, DEAR MICROSOFT OFFICE TEAM) that, hey, seriously, we're transitioning, and you're with us or go to hell. Microsoft doesn't do that.
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turtle
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2020-04-23, 14:44

The lack of being able to run Windows on my Mac would be a challenge. I'd likely end up building/moving my VM to an ESXi host and just using RDP to "work" from. Not ideal, but it would keep my from having to keep a physical Windows machine just for work.

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kscherer
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2020-04-23, 15:39

There are several bridges that need crossing, and I suspect Apple is going to cross them one at a time. MacBook first, maybe the Mac Mini or an entry iMac second, then on to higher end laptops and iMacs, and then the Mac Pro. That will probably happen over the course of 3-5 years (or faster if Apple's chip designs are a lot further along than we think—after all, there is nothing that says they have to use existing Ax chips; they may have something already prototyped that is years ahead of anything in the iPhone/iPad).

Things like pro software will come along quickly since Microsoft and Adobe are already partially in the game with their iOS offerings, and certainly Apple's Pro apps will be along shortly. Once the ball is rolling, however, it is going to roll swiftly, especially if Apple makes Mac OS Ax look and feel just like it's X86 variant. If I can't tell the difference, it will be successful, and people will rush in to buy them, especially since it is likely that Ax Macs will be $200+ cheaper simply because the silicon will be that much cheaper.

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Bryson
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2020-04-23, 15:53

I do wonder if Apple don't really realize how much a "feature" being able to boot other x86 OS's really is for a lot of people.
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Frank777
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2020-04-23, 17:00

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryson View Post
Have we discussed what this move might mean for Boot Camp / Parallels? I rely on them to do my day to day work, now that BlueBeam have discontinued the Mac version. It would suck to have to buy a work PC to go alongside my Mac.
All it means is that Apple will keep at least one Intel Mac in the Store for the foreseeable future for the few whose unfortunate work lives require Windows.

This question keeps being asked and is easily answered.
Intel-Mac motherboard designs will not spontaneously combust simply because Apple introduces a new chip.

We live in a world where the government is using COBOL systems to deliver cheques in 2020. You're going to be fine.
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Frank777
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2020-04-23, 17:45

Of course, the best thing about this leak is that it confirms that the WWDC 2020 keynote is going to be absolutely epic.
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kscherer
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2020-04-24, 10:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
Of course, the best thing about this leak is that it confirms that the WWDC 2020 keynote is going to be absolutely epic.
Yep. As I've said, if ARM Macs are coming anytime in the next 6-9 months, then this rev of Mac OS has to support them, and that means developers have to have time to get up to speed. They already have the hardware (iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard); now, they just need the software.

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