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Intel's latest Processors and Apple

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I am a little confused by Intel's latest chipsets and what they imply for Apple's future notebook line-up. My understanding is that Intel has now die-shrunk the Nehalem architecture to a 32 nm board and placed an integrated graphics processor on the motherboard, which means that a discreet or separate graphics chip is no longer strictly necessary. Unfortunately, the built-in Intel graphics processors are not very good, so Apple still needs to add its own graphics sub-systems to ensure video output is up to scratch. For this reason, Apple did not move to a Core i5 or i7 chip for lower-end MacBook Pros.

Okay, so now Intel is about to release the next iteration of Nehalem / Sandy Bridge with further enhancements. What does this mean for future MacBook Pros and when should we expect the next refresh?

Is Intel trying to lock-out AMD and ATI? Are Intel's own graphics processors any good or will they improve any time soon?

I'd be grateful if a chip expert could explain in layman's terms what is going on. Thank you.
post #2 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

For this reason, Apple did not move to a Core i5 or i7 chip for lower-end MacBook Pros.

Incorrect. They didn't move to Arrandale because you can't FIT a dedicated GPU inside the 13" MacBook Pro along with the integrated one in the Arrandale chipset. That's really the only reason. They made the right call, though. It works out better to have Core 2 and a dedicated chip instead of having Core i5 and the Intel integrated crap.

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Is Intel trying to lock-out AMD and ATI?

Same company. You mean AMD and nVidia. The answer is still no.

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Are Intel's own graphics processors any good or will they improve any time soon?

No and very no.
post #3 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Incorrect. They didn't move to Arrandale because you can't FIT a dedicated GPU inside the 13" MacBook Pro along with the integrated one in the Arrandale chipset. That's really the only reason. They made the right call, though. It works out better to have Core 2 and a dedicated chip instead of having Core i5 and the Intel integrated crap.



Same company. You mean AMD and nVidia. The answer is still no.



No and very no.

Thanks very much for this. Excuse my ignorance.

So if intel's new architecture cannot fit in a 13" MacBook Pro, I guess we shouldn't expect Apple to upgrade this model anytime soon? What are Apple's future upgrade choices, anyway?
post #4 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Thanks very much for this. Excuse my ignorance.

So if intel's new architecture cannot fit in a 13" MacBook Pro, I guess we shouldn't expect Apple to upgrade this model anytime soon? What are Apple's future upgrade choices, anyway?

We're already using Westmere chips. That's the shrink you're talking about. Arrandale is mainstream laptop Westmere.

Sandy Bridge is at least a year off. We'll have speed bumps of Westmere late this fall, likely.
post #5 of 60
Intel's newest architecture would fit in a 13" Macbook Pro just fine. Apple's engineers are getting lazy.
post #6 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Intel's newest architecture would fit in a 13" Macbook Pro just fine. Apple's engineers are getting lazy.

Yes, the architecture would fit, but Intel has been playing licensing games with their chipsets meaning that for the moment NVIDIA can't produce chipsets (with integrate graphics) that work with the i-series processors.

So Apple looked at their options:

On one hand pay more money for a i3 processor than a Core2Duo. Get a slight bump in processor speed, but take a major hit on both power consumption and GPU speed (NVIDIA's chipset is really that much better than Intel's).

Apple chose the route that was cooler, cheaper, and for most things, faster.

So the only thing that Apple did not get was the name i3 on the box... Where exactly is this Apple's engineers being lazy?
post #7 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

We're already using Westmere chips. That's the shrink you're talking about. Arrandale is mainstream laptop Westmere.

Sandy Bridge is at least a year off. We'll have speed bumps of Westmere late this fall, likely.

Thanks TS,

I thought Sandy Bridge was much closer to release, based on the most recent review of intel's processor roadmap. I guess you shouldn't always believe what you see.

Can you tell us more about the Westmere speed bump?
post #8 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Can you tell us more about the Westmere speed bump?

No one really knows much about it, I don't think. It'll just be a clock speed increase. They won't change RAM or GPU at all.

Oh, I see where you're getting the Sandy Bridge release... That's performance mobile. Apple doesn't use 45w chips at all, so we have to wait for the 35w ones to be released.
post #9 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl Kuehn View Post

So the only thing that Apple did not get was the name i3 on the box... Where exactly is this Apple's engineers being lazy?

For one thing, they don't have to use an Nvidia chipset. Apple could return to using a discrete GPU in its low-end machines, but... Apple is getting cheap and lazy on us.
post #10 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Hi,

I am a little confused by Intel's latest chipsets and what they imply for Apple's future notebook line-up. My understanding is that Intel has now die-shrunk the Nehalem architecture to a 32 nm board and placed an integrated graphics processor on the motherboard,

That should be on the processor die if you are talking about Sandy Bridge and in the multi chip module for the earlier chips.
Quote:
which means that a discreet or separate graphics chip is no longer strictly necessary. Unfortunately, the built-in Intel graphics processors are not very good, so Apple still needs to add its own graphics sub-systems to ensure video output is up to scratch. For this reason, Apple did not move to a Core i5 or i7 chip for lower-end MacBook Pros.

Exactly.
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Okay, so now Intel is about to release the next iteration of Nehalem / Sandy Bridge with further enhancements. What does this mean for future MacBook Pros and when should we expect the next refresh?

The next refresh will come when Apple is good and ready.

As for Mac Book Pros expect to see further refinements of the dual GPU system at the high end. Maybe we will see AMD tech at the low end.
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Is Intel trying to lock-out AMD and ATI? Are Intel's own graphics processors any good or will they improve any time soon?

Intels GPUs suck really hard. So hard I could see Apple leaving Intel for AMD chips.
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I'd be grateful if a chip expert could explain in layman's terms what is going on. Thank you.

Intelis jerking the market around.
post #11 of 60
The next refresh of the Macbook and 13" MBP will mark either Apple's return to Intel Integrated Graphics at the low end, or Apple's adoption of AMD processors and Radeon integrated graphics on those machines.

Since I think Apple is being cheap and lazy on the engineering front, I think it'll be the former. The latter would take more work. Anyway, Sandy Bridge will have an IGP good enough for whatever graphics Mac users need.
post #12 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

The next refresh of the Macbook and 13" MBP will mark either Apple's return to Intel Integrated Graphics at the low end, or Apple's adoption of AMD processors and Radeon integrated graphics on those machines.

Any reason you think this?
post #13 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Any reason you think this?

Common sense says $1000+ computers shouldn't have obsolete processors. Core 2 Duo is a joke at that price and will be much more so when next-generation processors appear at the beginning of next year. So Apple has four options:

Option 1: Continue to use Core 2 Duo with Nvidia integrated graphics

Option 2: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with discrete graphics

Option 3: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with integrated graphics

Option 4: Use AMD processors and integrated graphics (probably Llano since Zacate is going to be too slow for these machines)

Honesty compels me to say that I have no idea what Apple will do, but that performance is secondary to profit, which suggests option 1. However, a few things point me towards Apple taking option 3. Those things are:

1: Nvidia seems to be pissing everyone off these days, including Apple. That, and the fact that Core 2 Duo in a Macbook Pro is some kind of bad joke, makes me discount option one.

2: Apple is currently using Core 2010 processors with discrete graphics... but only in its 15 and 17 inch notebooks. Not using them in the 13" models represents either cheapness (profit over performance) or lazy engineering (which is another form of cheapness). If Apple was going to use discrete graphics, it could have already. Therefore I discount option 2.

3: Intel's Core 2011 processors are actually going to have good integrated graphics. Really. At least, Intel has caught up with circa-2010 AMD and Nvidia IGPs. That will still be second place to AMD in 2011, but it's a huge improvement over their current IGP. This makes option 3 the most likely, I think. It's the cheapest solution for Apple, and good enough to be marketed as "good enough."

4: AMD's Llano "Fusion" mobile processors will have 2-4 cores derived from their Phenom II architecture attached to an IGP rumored to be almost as fast as a Radeon 5600. That's a clear improvement over what Apple currently uses. Compared to option 3, it trades off a slower processor for faster graphics, becoming a question of where Apple's priorities lie. On the other hand, Apple has shown no indication of stepping off the Intel train. So this is a geeky dream, but a slim chance in reality.

tl;dr: Intel's next-gen processors are going to be too good to not use.
post #14 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

The next refresh of the Macbook and 13" MBP will mark either Apple's return to Intel Integrated Graphics at the low end, or Apple's adoption of AMD processors and Radeon integrated graphics on those machines.

Since I think Apple is being cheap and lazy on the engineering front, I think it'll be the former. The latter would take more work. Anyway, Sandy Bridge will have an IGP good enough for whatever graphics Mac users need.

Everything I've seen indicates that even on Sandy Bridge it would be a step backwards to employ Intel Integrated Graphics. Plus the issue of OpenCL support still isn't clear with Intel hardware. So you have at least a couple of reasons to stay away from Intel chips with Intel GPU's.

Besides what is all the noise about being cheap and lazy. The last Mac Book Pro round was very innovative. You don't see anybody else using both the integrated and the discrete GPU the way Apple does.
post #15 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Common sense says $1000+ computers shouldn't have obsolete processors. Core 2 Duo is a joke at that price and will be much more so when next-generation processors appear at the beginning of next year. So Apple has four options:

Option 1: Continue to use Core 2 Duo with Nvidia integrated graphics

Option 2: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with discrete graphics

Option 3: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with integrated graphics

Option 4: Use AMD processors and integrated graphics (probably Llano since Zacate is going to be too slow for these machines)

Honesty compels me to say that I have no idea what Apple will do, but that performance is secondary to profit, which suggests option 1. However, a few things point me towards Apple taking option 3. Those things are:

1: Nvidia seems to be pissing everyone off these days, including Apple. That, and the fact that Core 2 Duo in a Macbook Pro is some kind of bad joke, makes me discount option one.

It is true that NVIdia is pissing people off, that is no secret. However Core 2 is not a joke in the low end Mac Book Pro, it was the only decent option at the time for Apple.
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2: Apple is currently using Core 2010 processors with discrete graphics... but only in its 15 and 17 inch notebooks. Not using them in the 13" models represents either cheapness (profit over performance) or lazy engineering (which is another form of cheapness). If Apple was going to use discrete graphics, it could have already. Therefore I discount option 2.

Total BS. All engineering is the management of various trade offs to reach a price and performance point. By definition a lower price piece of hardware makes a different set of trade offs than items at the top of the line. The machines with the Core 2 processors stressed the importance of good graphics performance over absolute CPU performance.

Beyond that the available options at the time did not have significantly faster CPU units. About the only thing noticeable to the user would be better floating point performance and maybe better SIMD behavior. Notably performance that doesn't mean much in a lower end laptop.
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3: Intel's Core 2011 processors are actually going to have good integrated graphics. Really. At least, Intel has caught up with circa-2010 AMD and Nvidia IGPs. That will still be second place to AMD in 2011, but it's a huge improvement over their current IGP. This makes option 3 the most likely, I think. It's the cheapest solution for Apple, and good enough to be marketed as "good enough."

No not really. They will only meet the performance level of year and a half old NVIDIA integrated chips. Notably that is only for certain usage. The required info to completely judge the Intel integrated graphic doesn't exist yet. No one really knows if OpenCL will be properly supported nor how well the video hardware decode will work. Right now it appears that Intel integrated graphics isn't good enough and would result in a step backwards instead of forward.
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4: AMD's Llano "Fusion" mobile processors will have 2-4 cores derived from their Phenom II architecture attached to an IGP rumored to be almost as fast as a Radeon 5600. That's a clear improvement over what Apple currently uses. Compared to option 3, it trades off a slower processor for faster graphics, becoming a question of where Apple's priorities lie. On the other hand, Apple has shown no indication of stepping off the Intel train. So this is a geeky dream, but a slim chance in reality.

Gee that sounds like those Core 2 Mac Book Pros you have been complaining about.

As it should be because for many the performance of the GPU is what gives the user the feeling of a speedy and powerful machine these days.
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tl;dr: Intel's next-gen processors are going to be too good to not use.

Funny but the evidence I've seen questions your conclusion.
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Common sense says $1000+ computers shouldn't have obsolete processors.

Sure it does.

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...the fact that Core 2 Duo in a Macbook Pro is some kind of bad joke...

Core 2 and dedicated GPU is better than Core i3 and Intel integrated. No one sane could argue with that.

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...lazy engineering...

Show me on the logic board where you would put this magical second GPU.

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...AMD...

There's zero evidence of this. Buy your vaunted AMD computer and make it a Hackintosh.
post #17 of 60
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Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Funny but the evidence I've seen questions your conclusion.

And you're just rationalizing cheapness and laziness on Apple's part.
post #18 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Core 2 and dedicated GPU is better than Core i3 and Intel integrated. No one sane could argue with that.
.

I think there is merit in that argument but you do realize that the 13" MBP, MB, and mac mini use integrated graphics, right?
post #19 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

I think there is merit in that argument but you do realize that the 13" MBP, MB, and mac mini use integrated graphics, right?

How in the WORLD did I get that confused?

Okay, I mean that had they gone with a Core i3 processor, they would have had to drop the nVidia chip altogether and just use Intel's integrated GPU because of space constraints.
post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

How in the WORLD did I get that confused?

Okay, I mean that had they gone with a Core i3 processor, they would have had to drop the nVidia chip altogether and just use Intel's integrated GPU because of space constraints.

Maybe. Maybe not. If Steve Jobs decreed to his engineers, "put a real graphics chip in the Macbook," do you think they would tell him, "there's no room"? Of course not. They'd make room for a discrete GPU.

But doing that would take engineering time, when Apple already has too few hardware engineers working on too many projects. It would cost money, both in that engineering time and in the cost of the parts (margin reduction). So it won't happen, not because of space constraints, but because of money and time constraints (which is what I really mean when I say cheap and lazy).

Apple has used Intel integrated graphics before, even though they were clearly inferior at the time. GMA 950? GMA 3100? Those were even three-chip solutions: CPU, northbridge, southbridge. The engineers found space on the PCB for those, so where were your space constraints in the original Macbook and Mac mini?

Arrandale and the upcoming Sandy Bridge only have two chips- the CPU and a "PCH" which is really just the old southbridge renamed. A GPU wouldn't take up any more space than the old northbridge. Space isn't the reason Apple won't do this. At least, it isn't the underlying reason.
post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

How in the WORLD did I get that confused?

Okay, I mean that had they gone with a Core i3 processor, they would have had to drop the nVidia chip altogether and just use Intel's integrated GPU because of space constraints.

You were wrong but actually I think you're right.
post #22 of 60
Thread Starter 
FuturePAstNow, Tallest Skil and Wizard 69,

Very interesting and informative perspectives. Thanks for sharing.

Apple is rich, profitable and on a tech crusade. Have they really become lazy and started to cut corners? I doubt it. I violently agree that the reality of the tech business and designing computers means you have to make smart trade-offs to bring products to market on-time, at the right price point and with appropriate margins. So I just don't think Apple has compromised its values as much you suggest.

I believe that the Core 2 13" MacBook Pro was the best they could do with the available technology. i have no doubt that putting in the same chip solution as the 15" MBP was technically feasible, but it would have increased the unit cost to an unacceptable level. So the solution we have now, while not ideal, is certainly better than an Intel Core i3 with an integrated GPU.

Personally, I would like to see a 13" MBP offered with the same performance as a 15" MBP, even if it were to bump up the price. Lugging that 15" sucker around is a back-breaking endeavour. (Who needs a 15" screen when you can plug the darn thing into a 27" screen back at the office and into a projector when making presentations to clients?)

In summary, I think we have a very unsatisfactory situation where Intel's excellent primary processors are being let down by its decidedly average GPUs. If you go the AMD route, is may be a case of the opposite problem: you'll get great GPUs but only an average primary processor?

For sure, Intel's own GPU technology is lagging, but locking-out third-party GPUs by incorporating its own second-rate GPU directly onto the motherboard helps no one. It begs the question whether Sandy Bridge will indeed provide the market with the best of both worlds? Will Intel catch-up?

With the IPhone, iPod and now the iPad, Apple has been able to reliably update products on an annual basis. That helps consumers. But with its Mac computer line-up, refresh cycles seem anything but consistent, which sucks.

Worse still, it seems as if the Industry has reached a technological bottleneck that puts an end to Moore's Law. So the margin of improvement is reducing with each successive generation - almost to the point where a refresh delivers no noticeable performance gain.

It makes me somewhat cynical, which is why I ask what the current processor road map means for Apple. I wonder if they'll wait until Sandy Bridge 35 w processors are ready before issuing the next MBP update?
post #23 of 60
I think it's very much premature to declare an end to Moore's Law because of a realtively subpar bump to the 13" MacBook (so-called Pros). The real MBPs, the 15" and 17" models, received pretty impressive upgrades and are probably Apple's most competitive computer models.

Yes, Apple is in a problematic spot because of Nvidia's licensing problems with Intel, but I don't know why people necessarily fault Nvidia. Maybe I missed something the company did, but it seemed to me like Intel was the party more at fault. In an ideal world the 13" MacBooks would have Core i processors paired with Nvidia or perhaps AMD integrated graphics at least, but that did not happen.

But as for Moore's Law ending, maybe you lack perspective regarding PC history. Just look back at some examples from the not too distant past: The G4 stalled out at 500MHz for what seemed to be an enternity, and meanwhile Intel was lazy with the P4 until AMD brought the heat, causing Intel to reassess IPC efficiency, go back to the Pentium M and rely on its Israeli division to come up with the Core Duo line. All in all, we've seen huge advances in computing power in the last five years, and the processor roadmaps look bright, so I have to say that it's shortsighted to think we're hitting performance barriers just because Apple stayed with the Core 2 on the low-end of its laptop lineup.
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post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post

I think it's very much premature to declare an end to Moore's Law because of a realtively subpar bump to the 13" MacBook (so-called Pros). The real MBPs, the 15" and 17" models, received pretty impressive upgrades and are probably Apple's most competitive computer models.

First I think calling the last bump subpar is a little rough. Apple delivered a balanced upgrade in the only way it could.

As to Moores law, yes we have a ways to go there. However we are likely to see processor get more expensive than the past suggests. The problem being the huge expense in the new processes.
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Yes, Apple is in a problematic spot because of Nvidia's licensing problems with Intel, but I don't know why people necessarily fault Nvidia. Maybe I missed something the company did, but it seemed to me like Intel was the party more at fault. In an ideal world the 13" MacBooks would have Core i processors paired with Nvidia or perhaps AMD integrated graphics at least, but that did not happen.

I have to agree here, this is a case of Intel being an overbearing monster trying to destroy Nvidia. In part this seems to be due to Intel being at once embarrassed and at the same time responding to the ATI - AMD merger. Whatever the actual cause it has resulted in Intel doing great harm to some of its customers.

I have to agree that the ideal situation would be an NVidia GPU working with an I series chip. However what most people don't realize is that Apple gave up very little with respect to performance with the Core2.
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But as for Moore's Law ending, maybe you lack perspective regarding PC history. Just look back at some examples from the not too distant past: The G4 stalled out at 500MHz for what seemed to be an enternity, and meanwhile Intel was lazy with the P4 until AMD brought the heat, causing Intel to reassess IPC efficiency, go back to the Pentium M and rely on its Israeli division to come up with the Core Duo line. All in all, we've seen huge advances in computing power in the last five years, and the processor roadmaps look bright, so I have to say that it's shortsighted to think we're hitting performance barriers just because Apple stayed with the Core 2 on the low-end of its laptop lineup.

I have to agree here, this idea that a performance barrier has been hit is bogus! If anything the latest process shrinks allow us to hit clock rates unheard of at realtively low powers. The only wall hit is the one Intel built with arrogance. One that is totally artificial, Core 2 is in the MacBooks because Intel didn't give manufactures viable options.

In any event I suspect we are about to see another round of AMD putting the heat to Intel. It is pretty simple really, AMD has excellent GPU IP to combine with its processors. On top of that they have the Bobcat core to go after Intels ATOM and CULV markets.

It is very interesting to see what AMD has packed into Ontario and Zacate, its first two Bobcat based Fusion processors. There is an incredible amount of functionality plugged into these tiny dies. They may or may not be suitable for the current Macbook or AIR but they certainly offer up potential. Potential also to stirr things up at Intel and deliver suitable hardware for future Macbooks. The fact remains Intel can get away with doing little in the low power realm because competition doesn't exist. Even a little bit of pressure from AMD will go a long ways to forcing intel to be more customer oriented.
post #25 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Option 1: Continue to use Core 2 Duo with Nvidia integrated graphics

Option 2: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with discrete graphics

Option 3: Use Intel Core 2011 processors with integrated graphics

Option 4: Use AMD processors and integrated graphics (probably Llano since Zacate is going to be too slow for these machines)

If its any consolation I think this is the last version using the Core 2 Duo - so Option 1 is off the table.

Option 4 is also off the table, Apple can't risk supply problems and Intel can provide chips by the truckload - well most of the time.

I think that it will be Option #3 for the 13" MacBook Pro and Option #2 for the 15" & 17" Models.

I think a better question is whether or not nvidia will be the graphics supplier. Nvidia just launched their 400 series mobile parts and they look to be quite good - 96 "cuda" cores on the mainstream chips. Or, will Apple start buying MacBook Pro graphics chips from AMD.

I bet they'll stick with nvidia for the MacBook Pro. Sourcing some parts from nvidia to maintain competition for AMD is a smart long term business plan.
post #26 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

It is very interesting to see what AMD has packed into Ontario and Zacate,..... There is an incredible amount of functionality plugged into these tiny dies. They may or may not be suitable for the current Macbook or AIR but they certainly offer up potential. .

If Apple wants to make the MBA smaller and cheaper I think these AMD chips are very attractive for that machine.
post #27 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

If Apple wants to make the MBA smaller and cheaper I think these AMD chips are very attractive for that machine.

Very very attractive, about double the performance of ATOM at the same power levels. No it won't be a high performance Mac Book but that really isn't the goal. I also find it interesting that Apple has notebook updates coming around the same time these chips are due to ship from AMD.

So yeah there is a bit of hoping here. It is in part due to Intel having nothing that would be competitive with these Bobcat based systems. Bobcat would allow Apple to build a laptop that is significantly better than the ATOM based netbooks but only slightly worst power wise. Given the battery tech that Apple uses we could see very good run times if they focused on that performance metric and abandon form over function.

Further I'm not sure what the non-sense about availability is. These Fusion processors are fully transferrable to a number of processes. In fact AMD has intentions of farming out the processors manufacture to alternative foundries. So we should have high availability and very low cost.
post #28 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl Kuehn View Post

Yes, the architecture would fit, but Intel has been playing licensing games with their chipsets meaning that for the moment NVIDIA can't produce chipsets (with integrate graphics) that work with the i-series processors.

So Apple looked at their options:

On one hand pay more money for a i3 processor than a Core2Duo. Get a slight bump in processor speed, but take a major hit on both power consumption and GPU speed (NVIDIA's chipset is really that much better than Intel's).

Apple chose the route that was cooler, cheaper, and for most things, faster.

So the only thing that Apple did not get was the name i3 on the box... Where exactly is this Apple's engineers being lazy?

Can you really see the difference from a core 2 duo and i3 processor or even an i5 one?
post #29 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerald apple View Post

Can you really see the difference from a core 2 duo and i3 processor or even an i5 one?

For most users they won't be seeing a huge difference. At best an i3 processor might be ten percent faster than an older Core 2, for general usage. An "i" series processor does have other advantages though. Floating point is vastly improved as are a few other operations, but most users will not benefit drastically from such hardware improvements.

In any event as has been pointed out repeatedly the thing that makes the big difference is the GPU, user experience wise. This is why the Core 2 / Nvidia machines where a smart move by Apple. They put the money into parts that have the biggest pay off for the users.
post #30 of 60
What i'm interested in is... jumbo frames. The latest i5 and i7 Macs dropped support for jumbo frames! It was the first time in my life that my new computer had worse network performance than my previous computer.
post #31 of 60
Thread Starter 
Okay, guys, excuse me while I just recap what you're saying collectively to ensure I have it right:

We understand the trade-offs Apple made when they launched a revised MacBook Pro 13" model with a Core 2 processor and a discrete GPU instead of a Nehalem one with a integral GPU. Intel's own GPUs weren't good enough. Consensus seems to suggest that while the choice of sticking with a Core 2 chip wasn't ideal, it was better than moving to an I3 chip with a crappy GPU.

It looks like Sandy Bridge chips will not be available until Q2 next year and, even when they do arrive,there's a good chance that Intel's GPUs will not be much better than they are now.

Apple therefore has three future options:
- Switch to AMD processors for both primary and GPU processors
- Use Intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus discrete GPU
- Use intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus intel's own GPU.

Based on what you say, it looks like AMD has leapfrogged Intel. Then maybe Intel has a suprise up its sleeve?

When do the 'experts' think Apple will refresh the MacBook Pro line?
post #32 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Okay, guys, excuse me while I just recap what you're saying collectively to ensure I have it right:

We understand the trade-offs Apple made when they launched a revised MacBook Pro 13" model with a Core 2 processor and a discrete GPU instead of a Nehalem one with a integral GPU. Intel's own GPUs weren't good enough. Consensus seems to suggest that while the choice of sticking with a Core 2 chip wasn't ideal, it was better than moving to an I3 chip with a crappy GPU.

It looks like Sandy Bridge chips will not be available until Q2 next year and, even when they do arrive,there's a good chance that Intel's GPUs will not be much better than they are now.

Apple therefore has three future options:
- Switch to AMD processors for both primary and GPU processors
- Use Intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus discrete GPU
- Use intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus intel's own GPU.

Based on what you say, it looks like AMD has leapfrogged Intel. Then maybe Intel has a suprise up its sleeve?

When do the 'experts' think Apple will refresh the MacBook Pro line?

I believe I read somewhere that SB will allow NVIDIA integrated graphics.
post #33 of 60
Far more than it has been in the last couple of years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

Okay, guys, excuse me while I just recap what you're saying collectively to ensure I have it right:

We understand the trade-offs Apple made when they launched a revised MacBook Pro 13" model with a Core 2 processor and a discrete GPU instead of a Nehalem one with a integral GPU. Intel's own GPUs weren't good enough. Consensus seems to suggest that while the choice of sticking with a Core 2 chip wasn't ideal, it was better than moving to an I3 chip with a crappy GPU.

Real close.

You see we are talking about low end machines here. No matter what people think they would never get a top end CPU anyways. So Apple designed a machine for the price point with very good GPU performance. The design isn't less than ideal, rather it is ideal for the price point.

What I find strange is that a few years ago people where rightfully whinning about GPU performance on Macs. Apple corrected this with one of the best integrated chips available at the time and now people whine about the CPU. With the CPU however performance isn't dramatically better to justify the drama.
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It looks like Sandy Bridge chips will not be available until Q2 next year and, even when they do arrive,there's a good chance that Intel's GPUs will not be much better than they are now.

Not exactly. The SB GPU will be dramatically improved with respect to previous Intel offerings. It just isn't likely to meet Apples needs.
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Apple therefore has three future options:
- Switch to AMD processors for both primary and GPU processors

I really don't think we will see a wholesale switch for a number of reasons. What I would expect is strategic use of AMD hardware in ways that Intel can't touch. Note that SB ought to be a big jump in CPU performance that Apple will need in their high end machines that AMD may have problems matching.
Quote:
- Use Intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus discrete GPU

I expect minor bumps until SB is available. Apples hybrid system however seems to work really well so discrete really isn't a problem.
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- Use intel 2011 Core 'i' processor plus intel's own GPU.

With the current I series I'd be very surprised to see this happen. The problem being Apples focus on OpenCL which isn't supported. Apple might do this with SB but Intel hasn't announced OpenCL compatibility. I'd actually be shocked to see Apple regress hardware like this.
Quote:
Based on what you say, it looks like AMD has leapfrogged Intel. Then maybe Intel has a suprise up its sleeve?

Huh not exactly. What we are saying is that AMD has a very very inyeresting chip in its Bobcat based Fusion products. This chip family is pretty impressive for ultra compact laptops and other devices where power usage is noteable. At the other end it is not to clear at all as to AMDs ability to compete with SB.
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When do the 'experts' think Apple will refresh the MacBook Pro line?

Most likely before the middle of November! Maybe even this month. These are Apples usual bump times. For some products the expectation is for more than a bump. So if you are shopping around and can do it I'd hold off buying now.

The only odd thing here is the silence from the rumor mill. There is almost nothing to be heard with respect to the current MBP lineup.


Dave
post #34 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

The next refresh of the Macbook and 13" MBP will mark either Apple's return to Intel Integrated Graphics at the low end, or Apple's adoption of AMD processors and Radeon integrated graphics on those machines.

Since I think Apple is being cheap and lazy on the engineering front, I think it'll be the former. The latter would take more work. Anyway, Sandy Bridge will have an IGP good enough for whatever graphics Mac users need.

It's really not Apple being 'lazy', but it's because they insist on using a thinner design than what the current crop of Core 2010 CPU's can be cooled by, that or the fans would be running hard all the time, battery life suffers, etc.

The current crop of C2Ds have a TDP of like 25W, the Core 2010 is like 35, same reason Apple is using that oddball dual-core Core i7, instead of a quad-core like everyone else. The Mini has the same problem.

Intel sort of handicapped them with the integrated graphics (which really isn't that bad, the Intel HD is about as powerful as a 9400m, but it lacks OpenCL support), but Apple also insists on making super thin laptops...so Apple will stress designs first.

I think Apple would have no issue going back to Intel graphics, if they had the assurance Intel graphics supported OpenCL, the GPUs in current Macs really aren't anything to write home about.
post #35 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

I think Apple would have no issue going back to Intel graphics, if they had the assurance Intel graphics supported OpenCL, the GPUs in current Macs really aren't anything to write home about.

Whether the current NVIDIA IGP is good enough depends upon the user. But your statements don't make sense. You say the current Intel IGPs "really isn't that bad" because they're about as good as an NVIDIA 9400 (I think its the next version of Intel's IGPs that'll be as good as the NVIDIA 9400, but oh well..) and then state that the current NVIDIA IGPs (320m I assume) aren't anything to right home about and they're twice as fast as the NVIDIA 9400m.

I don't get it. Are you grading Intel on the curve or are you giving them a few strokes handicap?
post #36 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

For most users they won't be seeing a huge difference. At best an i3 processor might be ten percent faster than an older Core 2, for general usage. An "i" series processor does have other advantages though. Floating point is vastly improved as are a few other operations, but most users will not benefit drastically from such hardware improvements.

In any event as has been pointed out repeatedly the thing that makes the big difference is the GPU, user experience wise. This is why the Core 2 / Nvidia machines where a smart move by Apple. They put the money into parts that have the biggest pay off for the users.

Thanks for your response. I just bought n MBP 13inch and someone told me I was stupid not to buy the 15inch with the new i 5 processor. Why?
post #37 of 60
Has anyone considered the possibility of using the NVIDIA Optimus in conjunction with the Arrendale chipsets?
post #38 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerald apple View Post

Thanks for your response. I just bought n MBP 13inch and someone told me I was stupid not to buy the 15inch with the new i 5 processor. Why?

Well don't listen to that person anymore as he certainly can't see your needs. Would an 5 be faster, most certainly but could it go into a 13" MBP with that MBP retaining all of its good features? Probably not.

The reality is each release cycle brings improvements to each model. Given that the 13" MBP will likely be updated soon, i doubt however that any of the current i5's will make it in the laptop. It is the way of the industry to have more powerful chips that sip less energy come out every year. Now what will Intel call those chips is another thing. Even with these future chips the GPU will remain important as it has a very important impact on the feel of a machine.

In any event you got what you wanted so I'd discount the people trying to rain on your parade. Just tell them you was going to get a Mac Pro but it wouldn't fit into your brief case.
post #39 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerald apple View Post

Thanks for your response. I just bought n MBP 13inch and someone told me I was stupid not to buy the 15inch with the new i 5 processor. Why?

Because the 15" model offers more; but it also costs (much) more. All you have to do is your own research on what the market offers to satisfy your needs and just ignore comments like that calling you stupid or whatever.
post #40 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by LBV View Post

Has anyone considered the possibility of using the NVIDIA Optimus in conjunction with the Arrendale chipsets?

They won't. Apple developed its own, proprietary, version of switchable graphics tech for the 15 and 17" Macbook Pros. They already use this. It does exactly the same thing as Nvidia's Optimus, except presumably Apple wanted something which wouldn't lock them in to using Nvidia GPUs. But for the 13" models, using this would mean adding a discrete graphics chip.

Whether or not Apple does that depends on their willingness to invest the engineering time and money to add a GPU to the smallest Macbook Pro and plastic Macbook, which I don't think they will. That, however, is just my opinion.
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