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Apple's newly updated Mac desktops feature only ATI graphics

post #1 of 57
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In this week's refresh of the Mac Pro and iMac lineup, Apple chose to only offer ATI graphics options in all configurations of the company's latest desktops.

That's a change from last October, when the iMac line was redesigned, and buyers of the the 21.5-inch iMac had the option of integrated graphics via the Nvidia GeForce 9400M. The discrete graphics options available in last year's iMac line were all ATI cards.

But with Tuesday's updates of the iMac and Mac Pro lines, ATI is now the sole graphics option on Apple's Mac desktop lineup. David Baumann, product manager for AMD's graphics division, which oversees the ATI graphics products, spoke with AppleInsider about the new lineup.

Mac Pro

The new low-end Mac Pro, starting at $2,499, comes standard with an ATI Radeon HD 5770, with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. That's a major improvement from years past, when Apple has typically chosen to put a lower product as the default, Baumann said.

"This round they actually moved that up (and chose the 5770)," he said, "so the default is actually a very, very capable product on its own."

On the high end, users can opt for the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card, which is the most powerful GPU product ATI currently offers. It offers 2.72 teraflops of processing power via 2.15 billion 40nm transistors.

The 5770 is "basically the equivalent" of the previous generation's high-end option, the 4870 graphics card, he said. Choosing to go with better ATI graphics cards helped Apple to achieve performance up to 50 percent faster than the previous generation.



In the past, Apple has had access to early hardware, or parts that are designed specifically for the Mac. This year, it released notebooks with the exclusive Nvidia 320M GPU.

But that's not the case with this week's iMac and Mac Pro upgrades, as Baumann said all of the GPUs are stock parts. ATI made some minor technical changes to meet Apple's specific requirements, but the SKU, speeds and capabilities are all identical to the cards' PC counterparts.

iMac

On the iMac side, the entry-level 21.5-inch desktop comes standard with ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics, packing 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM. In Windows, it's a DirectX 10.1-level product, which equates to OpenGL 3.3 support.

The rest of the iMac GPUs come from ATI's HD5000 series lineup, codenamed "evergreen." All of the cards have the same feature set capabilities, but they differentiate in terms of performance. The cards -- the 5670 with 512MB GDDR3 and 5750 with 1GB GDDR5 -- can support OpenGL 4.1 and DirectX 11.



Despite ATI's dominance on the Mac desktop, Apple, for its portable computers, has instead stuck with that company's rival, Nvidia. The last last Mac notebook update, the $999 MacBook, added Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics to the company's low-end portable computer. The 320M mobile graphics processor first appeared in April in the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The higher-end 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros also have Nvidia graphics. They include a discrete GeForce GT 330M processor, as well as integrated Intel HD Graphics. The systems intelligently switch between discrete and integrated graphics to balance power and battery life.

Despite ATI's absence from Apple's notebooks, the relationship between Apple and AMD, the owner of ATI, could expand to even greater lengths in the future, as AppleInsider reported in April that the two companies are in advanced discussions to bring AMD CPUs to its Mac line. Currently, all Macs are powered by Intel processors.

AMD declined to comment on its relationship with Apple, and Baumann simply stated that the graphics side of his company has a good working partnership with the Mac maker.
post #2 of 57
So if these are stock parts, I wonder what the potential is to go in and do some elective surgery? It seems that there is some room for improvement within ATI's line over what Apple is currently offering.
post #3 of 57
And second.
post #4 of 57
Checking the Apple store, I didn't see the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card offered as an option on either the Pro line or the iMacs. Am I missing something?

Thanks
post #5 of 57
Two factors; Apple are getting pissed with Intel, and OpenCL- Nvidia dragging their heels.
post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

Two factors; Apple are getting pissed with Intel, and OpenCL- Nvidia dragging their heels.

I'd add a third factor in that AMD simply hasn't had the production problems NVidia has had. They actually seem to be able to reliably produce all the chips that they design.

As to getting pissed with Intel that has to be an issue at Apple. I'm surprised that they didn't implement an AMD based XMac on this go around.


Dave
post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill P. View Post

Checking the Apple store, I didn't see the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card offered as an option on either the Pro line or the iMacs. Am I missing something?

Thanks

The new Mac Pros aren't available for build to order yet.. not till next month
post #8 of 57
Great that the hardware supports 4.1 but when will Apple finally update their OpenGL libraries to 4.1. They are still back in 2.1 according to this: http://developer.apple.com/graphicsi.../capabilities/

Sure 4.1 is brand new but 4.0 has been out for a while and 3.0 for longer still...
post #9 of 57
ATI gfx in a pro machine, right. What were they smoking?
post #10 of 57
I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.

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post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.

Kinda like the year of HD. Makes you wonder.
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post #12 of 57
NVidia will offer a wider range of MacPro options in the not so distant future,
they have a warm relationship with adobe and autodesk to name just a few...
post #13 of 57
So are these laptop graphics chips (aka "Mobility Radeon") like the last generation of iMacs?
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post #14 of 57
Funny that Apple cannot support FULL OpenGL 3.3 with the 9400M/9600M GT, but Nvidia does on Windows 7!:
http://www.nvidia.com/object/noteboo...ql-driver.html

Come on Apple, add the Shading Language version 1.30 already! At least then 3.0 is complete!

Download OpenGL Extensions Viewer and see how your Mac (and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) performs:
http://www.realtech-vr.com/glview/index.html
post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.

The Snow Leopard OCL page says AMD supports OCL too. It does seem odd they don't say anything about OCL though.
post #16 of 57
Apple has been pushing their top end models for scientific computing. Those of us in that community have been waiting for the update thinking that it would support the double precision capability that comes with Fermi.

Is it possible to put the Fermi GPU into the latest MacPro and access it through OpenCL (or CUDA)?
post #17 of 57
In terms of the iMacs, does 'discrete' instead of 'integrated' imply a swappable card?
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

ATI gfx in a pro machine, right. What were they smoking?

Nothing wrong with ATI gfx in a pro machine.

The only problem ATI has had is with their drivers which never seem to reflect the quality of their hardware. Sadly this is true of both their own Windows drivers and the Apple supplied drivers for OS X.
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The higher-end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros also have Nvidia graphics. They include a discrete GeForce GT 330M processor, as well as integrated Intel HD Graphics.

All 13-inch MacBook Pro's have the 320M graphics; the 330M is only in the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros.
post #20 of 57
*hopes for GTX 480 in Mac Pro soon*
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post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. K View Post

So are these laptop graphics chips (aka "Mobility Radeon") like the last generation of iMacs?

They appear to be the full-fledged desktop-class GPUs.

And for those wondering why nvidia has mostly disappeared from Apple's desktop lineup after this refresh, look at the TDP, ambient noise, and temperature figures on the Fermi line. You guys want to put THAT into the closed environment of an iMac? (Though it's less of an issue on the Mac Pro, to be fair.)
post #22 of 57
Well, the new iMacs should last longer than the 24" models with the nVidia 8800 chipset. I personally know of 6 of these which all packed in with the exact same issue, the nVidia graphics card blew up. Same issue they had with the 8600 chips in the Macbooks but nVidia didn't accept responsibility for the shitty manufacturing of their cards in the iMac (at least not yet).

I would be hard pushed to take any Mac with an nVidia chipset after their recent performance.
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddr View Post

Apple has been pushing their top end models for scientific computing. Those of us in that community have been waiting for the update thinking that it would support the double precision capability that comes with Fermi.

Is it possible to put the Fermi GPU into the latest MacPro and access it through OpenCL (or CUDA)?

Doesn't the HD5870 also have native 64-bit floating point capability?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zonk3r View Post

Nothing wrong with ATI gfx in a pro machine.

The only problem ATI has had is with their drivers which never seem to reflect the quality of their hardware. Sadly this is true of both their own Windows drivers and the Apple supplied drivers for OS X.

I think going with ATI is a smart choice from a driver standpoint. The recent track record of nVidia OS X drivers haven't been good, with performance issues with Bioshock on 10.6.0 and 10.6.1 until it was fixed in 10.6.2 and Valve and Blizzard recommending nVidia GPU users stay away from 10.6.4 due to driver issues. ATI also seems to be putting the effort in making sure their GPUs get a full lifespan in OS X, with the X1000 series still being in good shape and supported in Valve's titles and Starcraft II, whereas nVidia's equivalent 7000 series is not supported due to incomplete and buggy drivers.
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by desides View Post

They appear to be the full-fledged desktop-class GPUs.

I will wager any amount of money they are Mobility parts for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that CNET's review identifies the low end 21" that way.
When AI verifies that, it should clarify this article.

The obvious choice for the bottom model would be from the current 5XXXX generation, below the 5670 in the model above. The desktop 5570 is only slightly less powerful than the 4670 (~6%), but has DrctX11 threading, tesselation, etc. not to mention OpenGL4 (should Apple get around to supporting it... in whateverdecade.)
Why the choice of the 4670? ATI doesn't make a Mobility Radeon HD5570.
post #25 of 57
I'd imagine the legal issues with RAMBUS played a part in their decision, not to mention the strides AMD has made with their lineup of GPGPU cards.
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Doesn't the HD5870 also have native 64-bit floating point capability?


I think going with ATI is a smart choice from a driver standpoint. The recent track record of nVidia OS X drivers haven't been good, with performance issues with Bioshock on 10.6.0 and 10.6.1 until it was fixed in 10.6.2 and Valve and Blizzard recommending nVidia GPU users stay away from 10.6.4 due to driver issues. ATI also seems to be putting the effort in making sure their GPUs get a full lifespan in OS X, with the X1000 series still being in good shape and supported in Valve's titles and Starcraft II, whereas nVidia's equivalent 7000 series is not supported due to incomplete and buggy drivers.

Yes, the HD5870 supports the entire OpenGL 4.1 specification and the OpenCL 1.1 specification.
post #27 of 57
I guess Apple got pissed about intel forcing their own graphics down their throat and decided to retaliate against it. nVidia is just collateral damage since AMD probably asked ATI to be used if future CPUs are to be exclusive/priority for Apple.

I think that it would be a good move, since intel already has big customers like dell and hp, while AMD is always second best and could use a major player rocking their silicone. Plus it could be a boon for AMD innovation as apple will push them to come up with better chips for their computers.

One problem spot is that AMD is entering the mobile space as well and here Apple chose to go with A4, which means AMD is SOL here, but it's not gonna be as big a deal to them as it was to Intel that had quite a special relationship with Apple for a while.

I would be happy to see AMDs inside the macs.
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post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

I guess Apple got pissed about intel forcing their own graphics down their throat and decided to retaliate against it. nVidia is just collateral damage since AMD probably asked ATI to be used if future CPUs are to be exclusive/priority for Apple.

I think that it would be a good move, since intel already has big customers like dell and hp, while AMD is always second best and could use a major player rocking their silicone. Plus it could be a boon for AMD innovation as apple will push them to come up with better chips for their computers.

One problem spot is that AMD is entering the mobile space as well and here Apple chose to go with A4, which means AMD is SOL here, but it's not gonna be as big a deal to them as it was to Intel that had quite a special relationship with Apple for a while.

I would be happy to see AMDs inside the macs.

I think the Bulldozer based CPUs would be the first architecture that Apple seriously tests with Mac OS X/OS X Server.
post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

Two factors; Apple are getting pissed with Intel, and OpenCL- Nvidia dragging their heels.

It's the only sensible choice (currently) if Apple wishes/gets around to adding OpenGL 4.x support.

The Nvidia GTX 480/470 (GF100) were way, way too power hungry, and the 460 (GF104) just shipped - AMD had a 6+ month lead for this generation of GPU's, and the only thing that Nvidia has really got them beat in, is tessellation, but not many games/apps are currently taking advantage.
post #30 of 57
  • ATI drivers used to be very problematic... a long time ago. Now they have their ups and downs just like nVidia does.
  • This year's ATI hardware is quite good on the desktop, and generally better than nVidia's if you include power, heat, cost, etc.
  • These ATI GPUs fully support OpenCL and in some ways do it better than nVidia's. CUDA is entirely nVidia-specific and should go away over time as OpenCL reaches full maturity.
  • Adopting ATI doesn't bear any relationship to adopting AMD x86 processors.
  • These ATI parts are real desktop parts.
  • Apple maintains relationships with both GPU makers because they tend to jockey back and forth and every year it is a new equation. Who knows, perhaps next year ATI will be in mobile with Fusion and nVidia will be king of the discrete desktop again.
  • Some people will always invent something to gripe about.
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post #31 of 57
I doubt Apple is pissed at Nvidia, but the later probably didn't have Apple's desired product choice.

Almost everytime Mac Pros are updated Apple adds more graphics cards options within 6 months.

The lot of you need to put down the gongs and stop taking X-files reruns so seriously. Sheesh!
post #32 of 57
So Intel can buy Nvdia at a discount.
post #33 of 57
So Adobe comes out with an app that uses the CUDA based Nvidia Cards ... this is something ONLY the Mac Pro can do..... yet Apple in their infinite wisdom releases new mac pros with only unsupported ATI cards. Apple your idiots and racist against Adobe thats what I say and progress

No BluRay.

Hey I love Apple but stupid is stupid and Apple is being idiotic. Great way to Kill a product line by pricing it out of reach of most users. And Alienate the main users of the product.This is what Apple really wants. Listen/watch the Steve TED discussion and draw your own concussions.


SP
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackpacker View Post

So Adobe comes out with an app that uses the CUDA based Nvidia Cards ... this is something ONLY the Mac Pro can do..... yet Apple in their infinite wisdom releases new mac pros with only unsupported ATI cards. Apple your idiots and racist against Adobe thats what I say and progress

Adobe should be using OpenCL instead. It is very similar to CUDA, has Apple's (and AMD's, nVidia's, Intel's) official support and would allow their app to run on all machines not just a minority. Don't lay this at Apple's feet -- the plan has been clear for over a year, Adobe chose to not pay heed.
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post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards,

That may be due to the various licensing issues with NVIDIA that have popped up over the last 6-8 months

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackpacker View Post

So Adobe comes out with an app that uses the CUDA based Nvidia Cards ...

It is my understanding that CUDA is something just for NVIDIA cards, making it a nonstandard. Makes sense to me that Apple would be not support it, or not as their primary. Apple is moving towards open formats and standards as their dominant items.

If Adobe chooses not to support the open standards they are the foolish ones.

Quote:
No BluRay.

I'm sorry but at this point, given all that Apple has said and done (and not done) to believe that they will ever put Blu-ray in their machines is what is stupid. They have all but said "There will never be blu-ray in our machines even if you paid us to do it."

Quote:
Hey I love Apple but stupid is stupid and Apple is being idiotic.

Again, I have to disagree. What is stupid is this notion that Apple should listen to the whims and wants of a small majority of users and cater to them, rather than go with the majority of buyers.

Quote:
Great way to Kill a product line by pricing it out of reach of most users.

You say that and yet their products are selling at high rates. Perhaps folks are willing to pay that higher up front due to a perceived benefit over a longer period than they get with Windows based machines.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackpacker View Post

Apple your idiots and racist against Adobe thats what I say and progress

SP

Wait, huh? Bigots maybe?
post #37 of 57
I get the OpenCL argument, but is it really mature enough for prime time? Remember Adobe's implementation of CUDA was in development for years. I posted about this "open" logic here:

http://nofilmschool.com/2010/07/appl...-new-mac-pros/

"I can hear Steve Jobs touting Apples openness by saying Adobes decision to go with a proprietary nVidia technology is closed, whereas ATI graphics cards run on open standards like OpenCL. Yes, implementing nVidias CUDA architecture was a proprietary decision on Adobes part, but lets put Apples own reasoning to work here. Similar to Apples argument for keeping Flash off of iOS, Adobe made a decision based on performance: nVidias CUDA is more mature than OpenCL at this point in time. Regarding Adobe Flash, Steve Jobs himself stated, we have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. So in an effort to improve the performance of their device, Apple went with a Flash-free approach because there wasnt an extant example of Flash performing well. Similarly, in an effort to improve the performance of their editing suite, Adobe went with CUDA because there wasnt an extant example of OpenCL performing well. Its the same argument, but apparently it doesnt go both ways."
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackpacker View Post

Apple your idiots and racist against Adobe thats what I say and progress

How is it racist? Do you know what it means for someone to be racist? Don't use misuse strong words because it suits your needs, it only serves to water down their meaning.
post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'd add a third factor in that AMD simply hasn't had the production problems NVidia has had.

Bingo. Frankly I'm surprised Apple has stuck with Nvidia this long.

And Apple's Pro apps have traditionally worked better with ATI anyway. Waiting for that 5870 to be a stand along upgrade option for us existing Mac Pro owners!
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackpacker View Post

So Adobe comes out with an app that uses the CUDA based Nvidia Cards ... this is something ONLY the Mac Pro can do..... yet Apple in their infinite wisdom releases new mac pros with only unsupported ATI cards. Apple your idiots and racist against Adobe thats what I say and progress


Why exactly is it something that only the MP can do? The NVIDIA cards in the laptop line and prior iMac line not CUDA capable?
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