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Apple may get Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs sooner than expected

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Volume production of the next new generation of Intel's desktop and notebook CPUs will begin earlier than originally anticipated in response to enthusiasm from chip buyers like Apple who have sampled the new parts.

Speaking in the company's Q2 conference call, Intel's president and chief executive Paul Otellini commented that Intel began sampling the Sandy Bridge chips to vendors over the last quarter. Strong positive feedback has induced the company accelerate production. Sandy Bridge chips are expected to go on sale late this year, making it likely that they'll find their way into Macs by early 2011.

"I am more excited by Sandy Bridge than I have been in any product that the company has launched in a number of years," Otellini said. "Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32-nanometer factory ramp and have raised our capex guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand."

Apple's use of Intel CPUs

The upcoming new Sandy Bridge family of chips will replace Intel's Nehalem micro-architecture currently being used in Apple's Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros (mobile i5 and i7 chips are referred to as Arrandale). Apple's entry level Macs, including the Mac mini and MacBook, continue to use Intel's earlier Core 2 Duo generation of chips.

While Apple was the first PC maker to release a Nehalem-based system (the Xeon Mac Pro in March of 2009), the company seemed almost reluctant to move its notebooks to Nehalem, as the new design prevented the Mac maker from continuing to build "two-chip" notebooks that paired Intel's CPU with a hybrid GPU-chipset integrated component from NVIDIA.

The Nehalem design forced PC makers like Apple to use Intel's own supporting chipset (which works with the CPU to handle functions such as its I/O access and its memory controller) rather than continuing to use competing chipsets such as the part introduced by NVIDIA. In its Arrandale mobile chips, Intel's "HD Graphics" chip is integrated into the CPU die itself.

Because Intel is weaker than NVIDIA in the area of graphics processing, Apple has to use both Intel's chipset and a separate NVIDIA graphics chip to achieve acceptable video performance in its i5 and i7-based Macs. That has prompted Apple to continue using Intel's previous Core 2 Duo paired with the NVIDIA chip in all but its highest-end products, where a three-chip solution is more acceptable in terms of cost and efficiency.



What's new in Sandy Bridge

Intel's new Sandy Bridge design (which originally had a Hebrew name until Intel realized "Gesher" or bridge was also the name of an Israeli political party) pushes integration even further. Rather than demanding the use of an external Intel-designed chipset, Sandy Bridge integrates the memory controller, graphics, and standard chipset features directly into the CPU die, resulting in a "System on a Chip" design similar to the tightly integrated Application Processor components used in mobile devices (such as Apple's custom A4 inside the iPad and iPhone 4).

While not clocked dramatically faster than existing Nehalem chips (2.8 to 3.8GHz), Sandy Bridge should deliver faster performance thanks to a minimum of four cores (with 6-8 core versions available later), improvements to the internal data bus, and enhanced "Advanced Vector Extensions" which build upon SSE to provide better floating point performance.

In addition to being incrementally faster, Sandy Bridge chips are designed to run cooler and more energy efficient, targeting the shift toward more mobile notebook systems. Whether Apple will aggressively move toward Sandy Bridge across the board and unify its Mac architectures under one design remains to be seen; the company may choose to migrate to Sandy Bridge on the high end and continue using the cheaper Core 2 Duo parts on lower end Macs, given the relatively moderate jump in performance Intel is promising.
post #2 of 36
Finally a MacBook air update.

Good interim update before the switch to AMD!!!
post #3 of 36
It will be interesting how this will affect the upper end MBPs which just got new CPUs & GPUs.
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post #4 of 36
Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?
post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

Finally a MacBook air update.

Good interim update before the switch to AMD!!!

Don't even want an AMD chip in mine. I have not had good experience with them at all and prefer the real McCoy thank you very much.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Don't even want an AMD chip in mine. I have not had good experience with them at all and prefer the real McCoy thank you very much.

The real McCoy is what and will have out in six months and in a year!
post #7 of 36
Huron River, and Light Peak/ USB3 - now there are some things to enjoy for the 2011 MBP update.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

It will be interesting how this will affect the upper end MBPs which just got new CPUs & GPUs.

Well, since the article said the new stuff won't be in machines 'till 2011, the timing will be just about right for the next "scheduled" update.
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post #9 of 36
Hm... so will this bring back nvidia integrated? Sorry I am a little out of it but I read the article and looked at the pics and it looks identical to what is there in 2010 macbooks already. What am I not seeing?
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post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Well, since the article said the new stuff won't be in machines 'till 2011, the timing will be just about right for the next "scheduled" update.

If Apple adopts the new chip in their next MBP update, it is more than a "scheduled" update. Usually after there is an adoption of a new chip, Apple upgrades are for faster chips and maybe a memory upgrade.

All in all, still happy w/ my 17"MBP 2009--does what it has to fast enough.
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post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?

My question exactly. Way overdue for an update.
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

Hm... so will this bring back nvidia integrated? Sorry I am a little out of it but I read the article and looked at the pics and it looks identical to what is there in 2010 macbooks already. What am I not seeing?

No. The intel integrated graphics are on the die with the CPU. Apple will need to continue with the version of optimus and dedicated graphics. The Intel IG is supposed to be better though, as the gpu will be fabbed at 32 nm like the CPU and probably will have a faster clock speed. Who knows until it comes out? Intel doesn't deliver when it comes to gpus IMO.
post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

No. The intel integrated graphics are on the die with the CPU. Apple will need to continue with the version of optimus and dedicated graphics. The Intel IG is supposed to be better though, as the gpu will be fabbed at 32 nm like the CPU and probably will have a faster clock speed. Who knows until it comes out? Intel doesn't deliver when it comes to gpus IMO.

Thanks for clarification.
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post #14 of 36
The "typos" in this "article" make it awfully hard to read.
post #15 of 36
If I may interrupt for a moment...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Because Intel is weaker than NVIDIA in the area of graphics processing...

That has got to be the understatement of the year.

OK, please continue...

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post #16 of 36
A nitpick:

The current processors have graphics "on package." As is shown in the picture in the article, the CPU package contains two chips (pieces of silicon): the CPU, and the GPU + memory controller.

Sandy bridge will only have a single chip, with all three components (and more, evidently) integrated onto one piece of silicon. This is important as there are inefficiencies in having the memory controller off of the CPU die, even if it is on the same package.
post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?

Sandy Bridge Mac Pros....mmmm

please soon!
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post #18 of 36
I'd love to see real amd64 platform competition of Apple sanctioned CPUs from both Intel and AMD.

At the very least, offer Mangy-Core for Xserve and later Bulldozer Opterons.

I can hope for AMD Fusion and it's GPGPU solution and multi-core CPUs but I'm sure Intel would get their panties in a bunch instead of making their platform the superior choice.
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?

Ditto. Apple just lost a fair size order of Xserves from me to Dell (R815's - magnificent), about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson View Post

Ditto. Apple just lost a fair size order of Xserves from me to Dell (R815's - magnificent), about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.

No, what it tells everyone with any intuitive abilities that you don't run OS X on your Mac Hardware, or if you did you would be making a conscious platform change.
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

While not clocked dramatically faster than existing Nehalem chips (2.8 to 3.8GHz), Sandy Bridge should deliver faster performance thanks to a minimum of four cores (with 6-8 core versions available later), improvements to the internal data bus, and enhanced "Advanced Vector Extensions" which build upon SSE to provide better floating point performance.

In addition to being incrementally faster, Sandy Bridge chips are designed to run cooler and more energy efficient, targeting the shift toward more mobile notebook systems. Whether Apple will aggressively move toward Sandy Bridge across the board and unify its Mac architectures under one design remains to be seen; the company may choose to migrate to Sandy Bridge on the high end and continue using the cheaper Core 2 Duo parts on lower end Macs, given the relatively moderate jump in performance Intel is promising.

I'm not sure if the author of this article is plain incompetent or if Sandy Bridge architecture is a total dud. But if my laptop goes from 2 cores to four at similar or slightly faster clock speed, and a more tightly integrated graphics solution, and additional vector math instructions, I'd expect compute performance to at least double. Now, doubling compute speed is IMO more than just a "incrementally" faster performance or "relatively moderate jump in performance".

So either the article mixes up laptop and desktop CPUs, and the laptop CPUs will remain dual-core (except for energy hungry "extreme" editions), or the new architecture sucks, or the performance increase is more than just "incremental" and "moderate".
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

I'm not sure if the author of this article is plain incompetent or if Sandy Bridge architecture is a total dud. But if my laptop goes from 2 cores to four at similar or slightly faster clock speed, and a more tightly integrated graphics solution, and additional vector math instructions, I'd expect compute performance to at least double. Now, doubling compute speed is IMO more than just a "incrementally" faster performance or "relatively moderate jump in performance".

So either the article mixes up laptop and desktop CPUs, and the laptop CPUs will remain dual-core (except for energy hungry "extreme" editions), or the new architecture sucks, or the performance increase is more than just "incremental" and "moderate".

The Vector instruction set won't help your performance if your system isn't offloading to this instruction set to perform all those requests best served by this instruction set.

Bulldozer chipset from AMD:

Quote:
Based on the information provided by AMD during its annual Analyst Day last November, the first Bulldozer chip code-named Zambezi (which belongs to Orochi family, according to the firm) will feature eight x86 processing engines with multi-threading technology, two 128-bit FMAC floating point units, shared L2 cache, shared L3 cache as well as an Advanced Quad-Channel Memory Sub-System (IMC - Integrated Memory Controller), higher memory level parallelism that's far more superior to what todays Phenom II houses. AMD also states that the new CPU will feature Extensive New Power Management Innovations. The new chips that belong to Bulldozers family will also support Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) that supports 256-bit FP operations.

All of it is great, assuming the compiler toolkit, OS, and application space are all designed to leverage all these advances.
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?

Why did you click onto this article to ask for Mac Pro's. When they come, they will come.
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

I'm not sure if the author of this article is plain incompetent or if Sandy Bridge architecture is a total dud. But if my laptop goes from 2 cores to four at similar or slightly faster clock speed, and a more tightly integrated graphics solution, and additional vector math instructions, I'd expect compute performance to at least double. Now, doubling compute speed is IMO more than just a "incrementally" faster performance or "relatively moderate jump in performance".

So either the article mixes up laptop and desktop CPUs, and the laptop CPUs will remain dual-core (except for energy hungry "extreme" editions), or the new architecture sucks, or the performance increase is more than just "incremental" and "moderate".

Very little software out there today is going to be able to run twice as fast with twice as many cores. Laptop, desktop, doesn't matter. The lion's share of software is meant to run on one processor. This is the reason Intel designed the latest processors to shutdown unused cores and overclock just one core, depending on load. Sad but true.

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post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson View Post

Ditto. Apple just lost a fair size order of Xserves from me to Dell (R815's - magnificent), about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

No, what it tells everyone with any intuitive abilities that you don't run OS X on your Mac Hardware, or if you did you would be making a conscious platform change.

My point - I can't wait, I've changed platforms (ond OSes) for our project, and Apple has lost our current, and future, business. Only possible exception, my personal computer, if a Mac Pro shows up RSN. Slow is tolerable for a business, slow and mysterious is NOT.
post #26 of 36
I think they're correct to focus on low power for now. Software is still adjusting to 2-4 cores, let alone more, and HDs are the real bottleneck in the system anyway. Once software has adjusted, and SSDs are cheaper, they will have to refocus on performance.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I think they're correct to focus on low power for now. Software is still adjusting to 2-4 cores, let alone more, and HDs are the real bottleneck in the system anyway. Once software has adjusted, and SSDs are cheaper, they will have to refocus on performance.

This really isn't exactly true. Most parallel code will utilize as many cores as you have. The reason performance drops with more cores is that all those cores generally share one memory bandwidth and one HD bandwidth. Since both types of memory access are orders of magnitude slower than what each core can do once it gets its data, a lot of operations don't gain in performance from more cores.

Intel made a big leap with the Core i7 with 3 memory controllers. There are a few more leaps that need to be made to get multiple cores fed with enough to chew on.
post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by freakboy View Post

This really isn't exactly true. Most parallel code will utilize as many cores as you have.

This is also sort of true. A big problem is that software developers who can actually write good multi-threaded code are in far shorter supply and there are many tasks that don't work well in a multi-threaded fashion.
post #29 of 36
It's worth pointing out that processors are designed to hit certain TDPs. You can have more cores, or you can have faster cores. You will rarely see both.
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Don't even want an AMD chip in mine. I have not had good experience with them at all and prefer the real McCoy thank you very much.

I wonder about your problems because I've never had an issue with AMD CPUs nor ATI video cards. Bad motherboards yes but you can't blame them on AMD. Assuming Apple puts the same quality effort into their AMD boards I don't see a problem.

Further I laugh at these statements any way because AMD invented the 64 bit architecture that Intel now uses.

Dave
post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson View Post

Ditto. Apple just lost a fair size order of Xserves from me to Dell (R815's - magnificent), about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.

I'm not one to support the bellyaching heard on the forums with regard to the Mac Pros. For the most part I think it is highly misplaced. Apple has seldom updated the Mac Pro at intervals of less than a year and often has gone longer.

The XServe on the otherhand seems to be in limbo. I'm not convinced it will be around much longer. The lack of updates to a machine that should be simple to update is one issue. The bigger issue seems to be many server editions being installed on Mac Pros instead. Plus the dropping of the XRaid kinda hints at a lack of interest in the server market.

In a sense the lack of the XRaid or similar Apple branded product sheds a negative veil over XServe. Most likely XRaid wasn't meeting sales expectations but you still need a solution set to attract customers.

In the end I think it is end of line for Apples rack mount server products. Especially after contracting the line up instead of expanding it.

As a side note I believe much of the problems with Mac Pros and XServes an their infrequent updates revolves around low sales numbers. Volume isn't there to justify the frequent updates seen on the iMac or laptops. Dell probably moves more servers in one week than Apple does in a year.


Dave
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not one to support the bellyaching heard on the forums with regard to the Mac Pros. For the most part I think it is highly misplaced. Apple has seldom updated the Mac Pro at intervals of less than a year and often has gone longer.

I don't think it's been this long when upgrades were available though. Usually it's because Intel don't have anything for them to upgrade to. It seems like they are making a decision not to use the upgrades that other manufacturers like Dell have been using for over 3 months.

Obviously right now, their hands are a bit full with the antenna stuff so now that this issue is dying down, maybe they can put some attention on the Mac line again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Plus the dropping of the XRaid kinda hints at a lack of interest in the server market.

I don't think OS X Server has really taken off in that market. It's all Linux and Windows Server, which have support in a VPS on cheap hardware. It's only small companies here and there that you see running OS X Server for this task like this one:

http://innofield.com/Xcloud-Features.html

It looks really cool though - being able to remote desktop into your server and use the iPhone app to manage it. Maybe Apple needs to do something like this on their own so instead of selling hardware people don't want, just build a data center and offer hosting services, MobileMe, a cloud desktop etc.

They'd make up volume by getting iWeb users and MobileMe users on subscription plans. A remote server instance running iWeb would be pretty easy to use for managing a web page.
post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I don't think it's been this long when upgrades were available though. Usually it's because Intel don't have anything for them to upgrade to. It seems like they are making a decision not to use the upgrades that other manufacturers like Dell have been using for over 3 months.

Maybe or maybe not. The fact is I've been following Apple long enough to have heard all this noise before. The point is it is not unusual for Apple to drag out product revs.
Quote:

Obviously right now, their hands are a bit full with the antenna stuff so now that this issue is dying down, maybe they can put some attention on the Mac line again.

I totally reject this idea that Apple isn't paying attention to the Mac line up. It just flys in the face of the facts. Already this year we have gotten a new Mini and some rather nice MBP. In the case of the MBPs Apple implemented unique innovations to circumvent Intels screwed up policies. This is far more than is common in the Windows compatible world where cookie cutter solutions exist.

Now you can say the Mac Pro needs some love right now but that is not the whole line up of Macs. In anyevent I'm sure the new Mac Pro isn't that far away. People just have to have some faith that there is a good reason.
Quote:


I don't think OS X Server has really taken off in that market. It's all Linux and Windows Server, which have support in a VPS on cheap hardware. It's only small companies here and there that you see running OS X Server for this task like this one:

http://innofield.com/Xcloud-Features.html

It looks really cool though - being able to remote desktop into your server and use the iPhone app to manage it. Maybe Apple needs to do something like this on their own so instead of selling hardware people don't want, just build a data center and offer hosting services, MobileMe, a cloud desktop etc.

They'd make up volume by getting iWeb users and MobileMe users on subscription plans. A remote server instance running iWeb would be pretty easy to use for managing a web page.

I just don't think Apple has really tried to sell XServes. For that matter I don't think they have an innovative mind in their server design department. Or maybe they don't grasp user needs.

For example there is a real need for home servers, especially media servers. So what does Apple come up with, the Mini server which hardly solves the problem. Servers are a good example of where doing a bit of market surveying would do Apple a world of good.

In the end I don't know what Apple is up to but I'm really hoping for a dramatically redrawn Mac line up in a few weeks.


Dave
post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

I'm not sure if the author of this article is plain incompetent or if Sandy Bridge architecture is a total dud. But if my laptop goes from 2 cores to four at similar or slightly faster clock speed, and a more tightly integrated graphics solution, and additional vector math instructions, I'd expect compute performance to at least double. Now, doubling compute speed is IMO more than just a "incrementally" faster performance or "relatively moderate jump in performance".

So either the article mixes up laptop and desktop CPUs, and the laptop CPUs will remain dual-core (except for energy hungry "extreme" editions), or the new architecture sucks, or the performance increase is more than just "incremental" and "moderate".

Mobile Sandy Bridge dual-core succeeds Arrandale, and mobile Sandy Bridge quad-core succeeds Clarksfield.
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post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In the end I don't know what Apple is up to but I'm really hoping for a dramatically redrawn Mac line up in a few weeks.

+eleventybillion!

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post #36 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Maybe or maybe not. The fact is I've been following Apple long enough to have heard all this noise before. The point is it is not unusual for Apple to drag out product revs. come up with, the Mini server which hardly solves the problem. Servers are a good example of where doing a bit of market surveying would do Apple a world of good.

In the end I don't know what Apple is up to but I'm really hoping for a dramatically redrawn Mac line up in a few weeks.


Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson View Post

..... Apple .......... about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not one to support the bellyaching heard on the forums with regard to the Mac Pros. For the most part I think it is highly misplaced. Apple has seldom updated the Mac Pro at intervals of less than a year and often has gone longer.
............As a side note I believe much of the problems with Mac Pros and XServes an their infrequent updates revolves around low sales numbers. Volume isn't there to justify the frequent updates seen on the iMac or laptops. ...........
Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I don't think it's been this long when upgrades were available though. Usually it's because Intel don't have anything for them to upgrade to. It seems like they are making a decision not to use the upgrades that other manufacturers like Dell have been using for over 3 months.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Maybe or maybe not. The fact is I've been following Apple long enough to have heard all this noise before. The point is it is not unusual for Apple to drag out product revs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Obviously right now, their hands are a bit full with the antenna stuff so now that this issue is dying down, maybe they can put some attention on the Mac line again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I totally reject this idea that Apple isn't paying attention to the Mac line up. It just flys in the face of the facts. Already this year we have gotten a new Mini and some rather nice MBP. In the case of the MBPs Apple implemented unique innovations to circumvent Intels screwed up policies. This is far more than is common in the Windows compatible world where cookie cutter solutions exist. .Dave

According to MacRumors, it has been about 500 days since the last upgrade of the MacPro which is updated about every 236 days. I agree with Wiz69, that the numbers of MacPros sold probably affects the rate of updates. With MBP and iMacs outselling the MacPros, they are more often upgraded.

IMO Apple is still very much committed to the Macs and a new MacPro is coming sooncount on it-just be patient.
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