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blastdoor
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Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:47 pm

Three years later than when I thought it would happen, but it's happening:

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/06/ ... e-silicon/

Developer Test Kit includes an A12Z in a Mac Mini form factor.
First consumer Mac available before the end of the year.
Entire lineup converted within 2 years.
Some Macs will get another Intel update.

it will be interesting to see benchmarks run on the A12Z test kit and also to see what clock speed the A12Z runs at.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:04 pm

Intel ought to be getting back on their feet by the time Apple finishes their transition. AMD will no doubt be pushing to keep ahead of Intel's inevitable return as much as possible. I'll be curious to see how Apple's switch will pan out in the longer term. Will people view it as a good move?
Also: I suppose Windows on Macs won't work so well. Unless Windows on Arm works? Would anybody even want that if it worked?
 
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:42 pm

This is how Apple ends the "corruption" of Windows on Macs.
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:06 pm

Xolore wrote:
Intel ought to be getting back on their feet by the time Apple finishes their transition.


But will they? By 2022, intel will finally have 7nm desktop CPUs (assuming they meet targets). Intel’s 7nm is approx TSMC 5nm, which comes out this year. Apple might have moved on to TSMC 3nm by 2022.

Compared to AMD, who lags Apple by a year on TSMC process, intel might be competitive by 2022.

But competitive with Apple? I dunno....
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:33 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
This is how Apple ends the "corruption" of Windows on Macs.


Heh, well... it will be interesting. They didn't have to provide Bootcamp, but they did. I know that when I switched back to the Mac in 2006 the ability to run Windows was a big safety-net factor. And certainly there are people today who use either Bootcamp or a virtualization scheme, and that benefits a great deal (obviously) from the hardware being Intel.

It was striking that today they bothered to mention virtualization, but only Linux.

Although there's uncertainty, the most likely scenario, given what we heard today, is that Bootcamp Windows comparability is gone. If there's going to be any Windows compatibility, it will have to be from VMWare or Parallels, and it might involve painful emulation.

This will cost Apple some users, and those users will likely be vocal in their exit. How many? Probably not too many. Will Apple be able to gain other users to offset the loss? Hard to say... it depends on whether they can really achieve noticeable price/performance/watt gains that translate into noticeable user experience gains.
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Redocbew
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:39 am

The CPU was never the problem when trying to virtualize macOS. It was the lack of GPU acceleration. Without hardware acceleration from the GPU you're going to have a hard time running many things people typically use Mac desktops to do unless you've overspecced the machine and are subjecting it to a relatively light workload.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:52 am

That's actually the thing I like about this the most.

Apple has some fantastic GPU acceleration in hardware which the iPhone and iPad use to get decent video performance on their low-power chips. I don't know this for a fact, but I have a hard time believing otherwise: I believe Apple's integrated GPU is likely to be FAR better than Intel's lame "HD Graphics", so this should improve graphics performance on all Macs that don't include discrete graphics chips (and that list is very short).

Then throw in Apple's neural-networking tech that they leverage for facial recognition and real-time photo processing, and I think you have a really unique and compelling feature-set for a computer System on a Chip.
 
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:31 pm

Yeah that's true. I've heard video editing on the ipad actually works pretty well assuming you're using a codec that's supported in hardware. Obviously the hardware has to be good before choice of codec can make a difference. I'm not sure how much of a priority macOS really is for Apple in general, but I guess we'll just wait and see how it all shakes out for the desktop.
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Wed Jun 24, 2020 7:43 pm

Redocbew wrote:
Yeah that's true. I've heard video editing on the ipad actually works pretty well assuming you're using a codec that's supported in hardware. Obviously the hardware has to be good before choice of codec can make a difference. I'm not sure how much of a priority macOS really is for Apple in general, but I guess we'll just wait and see how it all shakes out for the desktop.


A few years ago, I think it was pretty reasonable to wonder how much of a priority the Mac is for Apple. But choosing to invest in a "family" of SOCs just for the Mac suggests a pretty strong commitment.

And it makes sense... Apple can't just rely on iPhone growth anymore, they need to look for growth wherever they can find it. With less than a 10% worldwide marketshare for Mac, there's room to grow.

Also, I suspect that the Mac might be about the stickiest product in the platform. I don't have any data to support this, but it makes sense to me that somebody who uses a Windows PC and an iPhone is much more likely to jump ship to Android than somebody who has both a Mac and an iPhone. And I suspect that somebody who has a Mac is more likely to buy other Apple products than somebody who has just an iPhone.
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:23 am

Interesting perspective:

https://www.pcgamer.com/intel-skylake-why-apple-left/

I'm sure that bugs in skylake isn't the only reason -- maybe more a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of thing.

But this is a piece of the puzzle that I was not aware of.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:18 pm

Redocbew wrote:
Yeah that's true. I've heard video editing on the ipad actually works pretty well assuming you're using a codec that's supported in hardware. Obviously the hardware has to be good before choice of codec can make a difference. I'm not sure how much of a priority macOS really is for Apple in general, but I guess we'll just wait and see how it all shakes out for the desktop.

Of course, it was somewhat marketing speak, but whichever talking head was talking at the time, during the WWDC, explicitly made the point that Apple believes strongly in the Mac, because that's where they do all their development for all the other technologies they sell. iPhone/iPad development doesn't happen on iPhones and iPads -- it happens on Macs. I'm sure all the hardware development is happening on Macs. So they appear to believe pretty strongly in the Mac, because it appears to be the development foundation of everything they build.
 
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:00 am

I guess being a 1.5 trillion dollar company makes it slightly easier to make a consumer product that's really just for software development on their own platform. :lol:

I dunno though, the macbooks seem to fill that role pretty well already.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:32 am

Redocbew wrote:
I guess being a 1.5 trillion dollar company makes it slightly easier to make a consumer product that's really just for software development on their own platform. :lol:

I dunno though, the macbooks seem to fill that role pretty well already.

Given what I see at conferences (well what I saw at conferences before The Rona), MacBooks are doing very well in companies across the country, not just Apple. By my non-scientific observations, MacBooks accounted roughly 50% of the preferred developer machines at the tech conferences I have attended in the past few years.
 
Redocbew
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:09 pm

Yeah I work with a guy who uses a macbook even though most of the work is in .net core. The OS does a decent job of staying out of your way while still providing you with the tools you need to get things done which is probably why a lot of devs use it even if they're not working on Apple stuff.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:09 pm

Vast majority of devs where I work are on MacBook Pros, and our target environment is Linux.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:41 am

I have come to know that from Apple Official Source.

Members of the Apple Developer Program can begin transferring their app to Apple Silicon today by applying for the Universal App Quick Start program. Program documentation, support for forums, macOS provides access to beta versions of Big Sur and Xcode 12, and includes limited use of a DTK, which can enable developers to build and test their own Universal 2 applications. The DTK, which Apple must return to the top of the program, includes a Mac mini and desktop specs with Apple's A12Z Bionic SoC, including 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a Mac / O / O port expansion.
 
blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:44 pm

https://wccftech.com/tsmc-shipping-80-m ... hips-2020/

Anybody know how that volume of production compares to what Intel has done so far on 10nm?
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:36 pm

Redocbew wrote:
Yeah I work with a guy who uses a macbook even though most of the work is in .net core. The OS does a decent job of staying out of your way while still providing you with the tools you need to get things done which is probably why a lot of devs use it even if they're not working on Apple stuff.

Please do not equate .net core with Windows only. It is a different animal than "classic .net". It runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS. So it is a perfectly legitimate thing to develop on the Mac. VSCode also runs so all is good on that front (heard some horror stories of Visual Studio for Mac but I suppose it is ok when it works?). In the end, the app is probably being deployed to some cloud service anyway.
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:11 pm

https://wccftech.com/apple-custom-mac-cpu-cost-node/

It's not clear that there's really any credible sourcing here, but a couple of interesting bits:

1. sounds like the first Macs might use the (5nm) A14X which would presumably also be use din the iPad Pro. Seems pretty logical.
2. in the second half of next year, they speculate a truly Mac-only SOC will arrive on the scene and that it will cost Apple about $100 (I'm inferring that's the price apple pays to TSMC per unit, so doesn't include Apple's design costs)

If true, this is somewhat analogous to how the Intel Macs started with the Core Duo/Solo but then moved onto the "real" chips -- Core 2.

Personally.... I'm waiting for an updated x86 27" iMac. I'll buy that and then wait to see the full lineup of Apple Silicon Macs come out over the next two years. Once I see the full lineup from top to bottom, I'll decide what to do next.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:01 pm

I'm not sure how much Apple would benefit from switching over to ARM from x86. Considering that going over to x86 from PPC gave Macs a huge boost sales increasing marketshare of Apple.
 
blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:46 pm

whm1974 wrote:
I'm not sure how much Apple would benefit from switching over to ARM from x86. Considering that going over to x86 from PPC gave Macs a huge boost sales increasing marketshare of Apple.


Benefits will depend on whether price/performance/watt improvements materialize and (perhaps more importantly) if these chips enable unique features in Macs that customers value.

Magic 8 ball says --- signs point to maybe.
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:42 pm

I think the big benefit is the cost structure for Apple, performance will be close enough to what x86 provides.
 
blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:29 pm

tfp wrote:
I think the big benefit is the cost structure for Apple, performance will be close enough to what x86 provides.


Regarding cost.. the fixed cost of designing a new SOC on cutting edge processes is pretty steep. According to https://semiengineering.com/5nm-vs-3nm/, the cost of designing a 5nm SOC is up to $680 million (I presume Apple would be at the top of the range)

Apple sells about 20 million Macs a year. So if every Mac used the same SOC, that would be a design cost per Mac of $34 (in addition to the marginal cost). But Apple said they'll have a "family" of Mac SOCs, suggesting an even higher per-Mac design cost.

On the other hand.... if the Mac SOC uses the same CPU and GPU cores as the iPhone SOC and just differs in the number of cores, then perhaps that's not the right calculation.

Does anybody have a sense of that?
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:23 am

blastdoor wrote:
Regarding cost.. the fixed cost of designing a new SOC on cutting edge processes is pretty steep. According to https://semiengineering.com/5nm-vs-3nm/, the cost of designing a 5nm SOC is up to $680 million (I presume Apple would be at the top of the range)

Apple sells about 20 million Macs a year. So if every Mac used the same SOC, that would be a design cost per Mac of $34 (in addition to the marginal cost). But Apple said they'll have a "family" of Mac SOCs, suggesting an even higher per-Mac design cost.

On the other hand.... if the Mac SOC uses the same CPU and GPU cores as the iPhone SOC and just differs in the number of cores, then perhaps that's not the right calculation.

Does anybody have a sense of that?

The article seemed to only talk mostly about the actual silicon level, which is mostly the concern of the fabs (they keep mentioning TSMC) themselves. Apple and the like work with the cell "library" level, which is kind of a higher-up abstraction already (almost like software). They may not have to deal with the minute intricacies of transistors at all.

Also, a "family" of SOCs usually means just varying repeatable blocks, like cache, compute, gpu, ai cores, etc. This means other members of the family will not cost as much to design and implement to begin with. This is the classic trick in the book, as demonstrated so nicely by the GPU makers (They also bin by disabling non-functional unit too, but that's happening after the chips are cut out of the wafer from the fabs, later in the manufacturing process).
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blastdoor
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Re: Apple Silicon in Macs

Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:14 pm

Today I ordered what will most likely be my last Intel-based Mac -- a new 27" iMac with an 8 Core CPU and the Radeon Pro 5500 XT.

One nice thing about the 27" iMac that I hope future models don't lose (but very possibly will) is the user-upgradeable RAM. Apple charges a crazy amount of money for RAM upgrades. I bought the base configuration with 8GB and I'm buying 64 GB to upgrade on my own.

I also got the base config on SSD and bought a 4-bay external enclosure into which I will place a new 2TB SATA SSD along with some extra drives i have laying around. Even with the price of the enclosure, it's still a better deal than Apple's upgrade prices.
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