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Supply chain sources say all remaining Macs to receive update in coming months - Page 2

post #41 of 66
The Macbook is way overpriced as it sits. I wonder why anyone would choose it over the 13" Macbook Pro right now considering that a Macbook with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive retails for $1,199 Cdn. while the MacBook Pro with the same memory and hard drive lists for $1,249. Something is amiss.

How Apple comes up with its pricing is a mystery.
post #42 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

The Macbook is way overpriced as it sits. I wonder why anyone would choose it over the 13" Macbook Pro right now considering that a Macbook with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive retails for $1,199 Cdn. while the MacBook Pro with the same memory and hard drive lists for $1,249. Something is amiss.

How Apple comes up with its pricing is a mystery.

It seems pretty standard to me. The difference might be that Apple bases its products off the US market so that $999 MacBook has to be adjusted for other countries. Having it under the $1000 mark and then getting the up sell is standard practice.

It’s also possible they sell so many of the MBPs compared to MacBooks now that economics of scale allows for closer pricing. I had wondered if a 15” plastic-unibody MacBook could be feasible but it looks like Apple is pulling away from the plastic notebooks altogether.


PS: Despite my inability to understand how pricing psychology works with ending prices in 9 to avoid the additional digit column I do accept that it’s real. I also round my fuel prices up to the penny when most seem to drop the 9/10th of a penny.
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post #43 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It seems pretty standard to me. The difference might be that Apple bases its products off the US market so that $999 MacBook has to be adjusted for other countries. Having it under the $1000 mark and then getting the up sell is standard practice.

Its also possible they sell so many of the MBPs compared to MacBooks now that economics of scale allows for closer pricing. I had wondered if a 15 plastic-unibody MacBook could be feasible but it looks like Apple is pulling away from the plastic notebooks altogether.


PS: Despite my inability to understand how pricing psychology works with ending prices in 9 to avoid the additional digit column I do accept that its real. I also innately round my fuel prices up to the penny.

In the US market it's the same thing, i.e. there is roughly $50 separating the Macbook and the Macbook Pro. Very strange pricing, no matter how you break it down.

If the Macbook really isn't a low-cost way of offering consumers a laptop option, what is the point?

Might as well either opt for the weight advantage of an Air or the quality of a just-updated Pro for roughly the same money.

Perhaps Apple isn't going to continue the Macbook and is simply getting what it can for the remaining production run.
post #44 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

In the US market it's the same thing, i.e. there is roughly $50 separating the Macbook and the Macbook Pro. Very strange pricing, no matter how you break it down.

If the Macbook really isn't a low-cost way of offering consumers a laptop option, what is the point?

Might as well either opt for the weight advantage of an Air or the quality of a just-updated Pro for roughly the same money.

Perhaps Apple isn't going to continue the Macbook and is simply getting what it can for the remaining production run.

1) Was the MB updated this year with the MBPs?

2) Back on pricing psychology, I can't see that happening unless Apple can lower the MBP to $999.

3) I think the internal ODD will be going away so maybe the plastic uniboy design will live on the way the iPod Classic has.
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post #45 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

The Macbook is way overpriced as it sits. I wonder why anyone would choose it over the 13" Macbook Pro right now considering that a Macbook with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive retails for $1,199 Cdn. while the MacBook Pro with the same memory and hard drive lists for $1,249. Something is amiss.

How Apple comes up with its pricing is a mystery.

The MacBook might look rather poor right now but that is only because it has been so long since it was released. As to the price well it must be acceptable to a lot of people because it was my understanding that it was one of the better sellers prior to the release of the AIRs. A lot of people really like small and compact.

As to something being amiss I'm expecting a major refactoring of the MacBook. The new MacBook could end up looking dramatically different and a couple of hundred cheaper. I certainly wouldn't buy one now unless I needed that specific configuration. Things like Thunderbolt, ULV processors or even AMD Fusion chips could lead to a dramatically different MacBook. I would suspect that Apple realizes they have a pricing issue with the MacBook. The problem is they need to launch with Intel hardware at a better price point which is hard to do when Intel puts a premium on it's laptop processors.

The other possibility is that the Mac Book gets dropped and replaced with an iOS device.
post #46 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

In the US market it's the same thing, i.e. there is roughly $50 separating the Macbook and the Macbook Pro. Very strange pricing, no matter how you break it down.

If the Macbook really isn't a low-cost way of offering consumers a laptop option, what is the point?

Remember it was a good solution, at a reasonable price point, when it was released. Sometimes I think MacBook exists to offer people a plastic option. Don't laugh some people really don't like Aluminum.
Quote:
Might as well either opt for the weight advantage of an Air or the quality of a just-updated Pro for roughly the same money.

Before the AIRs arrived it was my understanding that the MacBook was a very good seller. It is not Apples practice to adjust pricing on existing hardware outside of a refresh so I suspect that a new Mac Book isn't that far off. Either that or it dies and an iOS device replaces it.
Quote:
Perhaps Apple isn't going to continue the Macbook and is simply getting what it can for the remaining production run.

You can't really say as it is standard operating procedure for Apple to maintain pricing right up until device replacement. You could say the same about the Mini, but even here we really don't know what Apple has up its sleeves. In fact I find the Minis pricing to be even more outrageous at the moment. The only difference is that Apple has zero desktop machines competing with it in that category.
post #47 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The MacBook might look rather poor right now but that is only because it has been so long since it was released. As to the price well it must be acceptable to a lot of people because it was my understanding that it was one of the better sellers prior to the release of the AIRs. A lot of people really like small and compact.

As to something being amiss I'm expecting a major refactoring of the MacBook. The new MacBook could end up looking dramatically different and a couple of hundred cheaper. I certainly wouldn't buy one now unless I needed that specific configuration. Things like Thunderbolt, ULV processors or even AMD Fusion chips could lead to a dramatically different MacBook. I would suspect that Apple realizes they have a pricing issue with the MacBook. The problem is they need to launch with Intel hardware at a better price point which is hard to do when Intel puts a premium on it's laptop processors.

The other possibility is that the Mac Book gets dropped and replaced with an iOS device.

All good points but I think the next step down for the MB pricing would be no more than $100 for an introductory price of $899.

Using a net income of 20% for the MacBook and excluding every other metric Apple need to get $200 from each MacBook sale in order to keep the per unit sale at the same profit level. If they drop the retail price by $200 they need to drop their costs by $200 which would mean a net profit of 25%.

I think that is well within the realm of possibility, especially with the increase in buyers as you drop the price. But would Apple do that? I think there might be little need as Apple still outpaces the market.
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post #48 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In fact I find the Minis pricing to be even more outrageous at the moment. The only difference is that Apple has zero desktop machines competing with it in that category.

Which is interesting since the teardown and component pricing theorizes that the Mac mini has a thinner than usual profit margin for Apple.
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...han_usual.html I think it translates to a 35% gross profit margin compared to the typical 40%. Since I dont think its huge seller economics of scale isnt helping on the full product, though is surely in effect for some components.

What I find unusual about the Mac mini is the complex milled aluminum shell. I thought for sure they were using the new Mac mini for a test platform but I have yet to see any evidence to support that hypothesis.
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post #49 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Which is interesting since the teardown and component pricing theorizes that the Mac mini has a thinner than usual profit margin for Apple.
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...han_usual.html I think it translates to a 35% gross profit margin compared to the typical 40%. Since I dont think its huge seller economics of scale isnt helping on the full product, though is surely in effect for some components.

What I find unusual about the Mac mini is the complex milled aluminum shell. I thought for sure they were using the new Mac mini for a test platform but I have yet to see any evidence to support that hypothesis.

Not sure what you mean by test platform. Please clarify.
post #50 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

Not sure what you mean by test platform. Please clarify.

Meaning, they knew the aluminium shell of the Mac mini was going to be harder and more costly to produce than a comparable plastic casing but they are went ahead because they plan on using the design in a larger, capacity down the road and need the time and effort to perfect the manufacturing. Perhaps in a new AEBS, Time Capsule or AppleTV Pro.
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post #51 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

All good points but I think the next step down for the MB pricing would be no more than $100 for an introductory price of $899.

IPad pretty much proves they can sell low cost hardware in volume. The question is can they come up with a laptop that allows for the lower price, is desirable by consumers and performs properly.

I'm of the opinion it is very possible if the MacBook is built in a forward looking manner. That means some stuff has to go. The problem is would consumers accept a MacBook with no FireWire and no optical and possibly no magnetic drive.
Quote:
Using a net income of 20% for the MacBook and excluding every other metric Apple need to get $200 from each MacBook sale in order to keep the per unit sale at the same profit level. If they drop the retail price by $200 they need to drop their costs by $200 which would mean a net profit of 25%.

They don't even need to maintain margins at the historically high levels. As long as they can drive volume they will get solid profits. This focus on cash per machine makes no sense as they have one fine with iPods and the like.
Quote:

I think that is well within the realm of possibility, especially with the increase in buyers as you drop the price. But would Apple do that? I think there might be little need as Apple still outpaces the market.

Yes but pricing at the right point would increase sales. If Apple wants to keep the good times rolling it needs to attract more and more people into the fold. Something in the six to seven hundred dollar range would be like adding gas to a fire. To do this Apple needs a fast but reasonably priced processor and design freedom to clip out a lot of waste. This is one of the reasons I'm so excited about AMDs Fusion processors arriving real soon now. One reasonably priced chip can save Apple a lot of money and the chip is heavily focused on graphical performance, OpenCL and the like. It is almost as if the processor was custom designed for Apple. Of course that doesn't mean Apple will actually use the chip but I'm just hoping the Mini and MacBook delays are due to Llano.
post #52 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm of the opinion it is very possible if the MacBook is built in a forward looking manner. That means some stuff has to go. The problem is would consumers accept a MacBook with no FireWire and no optical and possibly no magnetic drive.

The MacBook Air proves they can.

Quote:
They don't even need to maintain margins at the historically high levels. As long as they can drive volume they will get solid profits. This focus on cash per machine makes no sense as they have one fine with iPods and the like.

Need has never been the concern, its always been about if they should. If they are selling as many as they feasibly make at the current price point then there is no need to lower the price.

There are a few things Apple needs to be concerned with lowering the price. 1) Will lowering the price devalue the Mac brand? 2) If #1 is a resounding "no!will you be able to maintain that new price point without having to raise the price again (just look at how people still complain about the Mac minis increased price point). 3) Will the increased volume in sales be enough to offset any drop in profit.


Quote:
Yes but pricing at the right point would increase sales. If Apple wants to keep the good times rolling it needs to attract more and more people into the fold. Something in the six to seven hundred dollar range would be like adding gas to a fire.

You dont want to grow too fast or your future quarter and years could be flat which would hurt investors. You want to build steadily and evenly which is why I stated my $899 price point the way I did. You should try to step your price point down as you saturate high-price tiers.

Of course, this balancing act can be upset with dynamic and unforeseen market changes but I dont see much of that happening with Intel CPUs.

Quote:
To do this Apple needs a fast but reasonably priced processor and design freedom to clip out a lot of waste. This is one of the reasons I'm so excited about AMDs Fusion processors arriving real soon now. One reasonably priced chip can save Apple a lot of money and the chip is heavily focused on graphical performance, OpenCL and the like. It is almost as if the processor was custom designed for Apple. Of course that doesn't mean Apple will actually use the chip but I'm just hoping the Mini and MacBook delays are due to Llano.

I assume youve read that AMD has sold out of all 5 million Fusion processors.
http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/28/a...-its-sold-out/ Impressive, to say the least, but I still have doubts Apple would sever its exclusivity with Intel to include these chips. From a theoretical standpoint Apple investing in ARMs Cortex-A15 MP for future MacBook Lites (i.e., using an Aqua or Aqua-like UI) doesnt seem too far off now that the Mac App Store can have app recompiled for the architecture with a new SDK.
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post #53 of 66
Some of the prices do seem a bit high but the point remains they are spending close to $200 for the processor and GPU. Probably a bit more as I thought the price on the CPU was low. In any event if they put in a 45 watt SoC, which could cost them less coming from AMD, then they can lower platform costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Which is interesting since the teardown and component pricing theorizes that the Mac mini has a thinner than usual profit margin for Apple.
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...han_usual.html I think it translates to a 35% gross profit margin compared to the typical 40%. Since I dont think its huge seller economics of scale isnt helping on the full product, though is surely in effect for some components.

I'm puzzled as to why you think the Mini is a terrible seller. I'm also puzzled with your obsession with gross profit margin.
Quote:
What I find unusual about the Mac mini is the complex milled aluminum shell. I thought for sure they were using the new Mac mini for a test platform but I have yet to see any evidence to support that hypothesis.

I've not torn down one of the new Minis but the indications are that it is a die cast enclosure. If so the cost could be very low. I use to work in the die cast industry and can state that you can come close to figuring out a parts cost simply by weighing it and adding a bit for the die casting companies profits.

As to being a test platform that I'm not sure about. The ultimate test is people buying the machine. That being said production of the dies and fixturing is not cost free. I was and still am impressed by the new Mini enclosure which I see as a vast improvement over the old one. It would not surprise me at all to see Apple use the same enclosure for other products. Apple has many products due for overhaul so maybe something will happen soon.
post #54 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm puzzled as to why you think the Mini is a terrible seller. I'm also puzzled with your obsession with gross profit margin.

Where did I say thats a terrible seller or use gross profit margin for anything other for comparison?

Quote:
I've not torn down one of the new Minis but the indications are that it is a die cast enclosure. If so the cost could be very low. I use to work in the die cast industry and can state that you can come close to figuring out a parts cost simply by weighing it and adding a bit for the die casting companies profits.

All the reports Ive seen indicate that its milled, which I interpret to mean a cast shell that then has its interior and exterior milled; a traditionally complex and costly process, even by Apple standards.

Quote:
As to being a test platform that I'm not sure about. The ultimate test is people buying the machine. That being said production of the dies and fixturing is not cost free. I was and still am impressed by the new Mini enclosure which I see as a vast improvement over the old one. It would not surprise me at all to see Apple use the same enclosure for other products. Apple has many products due for overhaul so maybe something will happen soon.

Not the machine as a test, but the casing. In the same vain the original MacBook Air casing was a test platform for future MacBook Pros. Lower volumes sale by comparison ≠ terrible sales.


PS: I hope you get your wish and Apple uses AMD and Intel. To me that would mean the threshold would have been pushed and Apple sees a opening for even more rapid and sustainable Mac growth.
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post #55 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Where did I say thats a terrible seller or use gross profit margin for anything other for comparison?

Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you have posted.
Quote:

All the reports Ive seen indicate that its milled, which I interpret to mean a cast shell that then has its interior and exterior milled; a traditionally complex and costly process, even by Apple standards.

iSupple was indicating that it was die cast. I'm taking their word for it as I don't have onto tear apart. A die cast enclosure would make a lot of sense as the tech can give you near net shape.
Quote:

Not the machine as a test, but the casing. In the same vain the original MacBook Air casing was a test platform for future MacBook Pros. Lower volumes sale by comparison ≠ terrible sales.

It is certainly possible. The new Mini case is very nice and could effectively house many of Apples products.
Quote:

PS: I hope you get your wish and Apple uses AMD and Intel. To me that would mean the threshold would have been pushed and Apple sees a opening for even more rapid and sustainable Mac growth.

Well I do believe Apple has a chance to make significant gains. The reason to hope for the AMD Fusion product is that it puts a far better GPU in the machine than can be had with Sandy Bridge. I realize a good GPU is not important to many Mini users but a significant jump might turn the machine from a no-go to a maybe for me.

Of course a year and a half from now AMD will likely be behind performance per watt wise. The current fusion products though have very interesting performance profiles.
post #56 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

iSupple was indicating that it was die cast. I'm taking their word for it as I don't have onto tear apart. A die cast enclosure would make a lot of sense as the tech can give you near net shape.

iFixit says "Departing from previous generations, the Mini's unibody top enclosure is machined from a single block of aluminum. in Step 3. I interpreted that to mean they used a 1.4 x 7 x 7 block of aluminium which did strike me as "over engineered hence my previous statement about it being a test platform for future cases. A cast of of the shell that is then machined to spec makes a lot more sense if you are going for low cost.
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac-M.../3094/1#s15076
edit: Apple claims its milled from a solid piece of aluminium.
Full metal jacket.
Mac mini features an all-new, 1.4-inch-thin aluminum enclosure. Its called the unibody a seamless enclosure carved from a single, solid block of aluminum. The unibody construction was originally developed for Apples MacBook Pro. Its created using computer numerical control, or CNC, machines the same kind used by the aerospace industry to build mission-critical spacecraft components. This ensures absolute precision of every component of the Mac mini enclosure. Not to mention a stunning aluminum fit and finish that will make any desk proud.
http://www.apple.com/macmini/design.html
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post #57 of 66
When Apple did release a Mini with a new enclosure, to me that suggested that Apple intended to keep the Mini around for a while. Certainly it wasn't what a company would be expected to do with a product that it intended to phase out any time soon. Also, it's not a major gain but I think there has to have been a gain of some sort from eliminating the power brick.

It should be noted, too, that it would be relatively easy to alter the Mini's current enclosure because altering that enclosure would basically come down to reprogramming CNCs. It would not, I presume, involve having to retool, per se, at least not in so much as I understand this sort of process. I am, after all, an ex-journalist, not a machinist.

The ability to easily change designs is an advantage to using the unibody approach that is often overlooked. No need to invest in casting equipment that has to be re-tooled when there is a design change. I may be mistaken but isn't that how it works, namely that for a CNC to produce a different design one need only reprogram the same machine.
post #58 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

When Apple did release a Mini with a new enclosure, to me that suggested that Apple intended to keep the Mini around for a while. Certainly it wasn't what a company would be expected to do with a product that it intended to phase out any time soon. Also, it's not a major gain but I think there has to have been a gain of some sort from eliminating the power brick.

By designing the PSU internally, they are limiting what can go inside but it's not really that important any more. The latest Macbook Pro shows how fast mobile components can be now, even performing at the level of the Mac Pro while drawing about 85W at most.

The C2D in the Mini is 25W + 10W 320M and costs $209.
If they could design one with a 4-core Xeon E3-1260L with bundled GPU @45W costing $294 ( http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=52275 ), I reckon that could make a nice little Mini.

The condition would be that there is an option for a Thunderbolt GPU as the GPU bundled there is the lower HD 2000, which is terrible.

The performance of this chip should be ok, here it is compared to the old 2GHz iMac Core Duo:

http://www.spec.org/cpu2006/results/...412-15686.html
http://www.spec.org/cpu2006/results/...513-00010.html

Two RAM slots supporting ECC RAM for server use, two Thunderbolt ports that can take an external GPU and allow fast storage. Internally, only offer 256GB or 512GB SSD and force the use of external storage for anything higher so that there's plenty airflow and perforate the front to allow this.

This design could even allow them to increase the entry price so they don't feel like they are making a cheap machine, e.g $799 (256GB) and $999 (512GB). I'd probably buy a $799 model with 4GB RAM and then a Thunderbolt MXM slot, externally powered with a high-end mobile Geforce or AMD chip for $150-200.

I'd expect the GPU/MXM board to plug into the Thunderbolt and have HDMI and Mini-DP output, which then plugs into the display, leaving the other TB port free for storage.
post #59 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

By designing the PSU internally, they are limiting what can go inside but it's not really that important any more. The latest Macbook Pro shows how fast mobile components can be now, even performing at the level of the Mac Pro while drawing about 85W at most.

True but only from the CPU end when talking about Sandy Bridge.
Quote:

The C2D in the Mini is 25W + 10W 320M and costs $209.
If they could design one with a 4-core Xeon E3-1260L with bundled GPU @45W costing $294 ( http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=52275 ), I reckon that could make a nice little Mini.

Well if we are dreaming about fantasy machines here I'd rather see Llano in the Mini. Why? For a much better GPU. Seriously that component is very important these days as is strong OpenCL support. It is also a lower power solution than Sandy Bridge.

I look at it this way; the Mini has never been about absolute power but rather about a nice balanced entry level machine. AMDs Fusion Llano provides for a very nicely balanced entry level machine.
Quote:
The condition would be that there is an option for a Thunderbolt GPU as the GPU bundled there is the lower HD 2000, which is terrible.

Where does this obsession with GPUs attached to a Thunderbolt port come from? It is an extremely bad idea. GPUs integrated on die with the CPU is the way to go. If Intel can't offer up anything suitable then Apple really needs to look outside of Intel.
Quote:
The performance of this chip should be ok, here it is compared to the old 2GHz iMac Core Duo:

http://www.spec.org/cpu2006/results/...412-15686.html
http://www.spec.org/cpu2006/results/...513-00010.html

Two RAM slots supporting ECC RAM for server use, two Thunderbolt ports that can take an external GPU and allow fast storage. Internally, only offer 256GB or 512GB SSD and force the use of external storage for anything higher so that there's plenty airflow and perforate the front to allow this.

ECC RAM in a Mini? Interesting but I'm not sure that would be compelling in it's traditional markets. As to internal storage I'm seriously wondering why Apple bothered to develop the Blade storage for AIR and then not to use it across all machines. Think about it a blade module would provide for that base SSD easily in the Mini while still allowing for internal storage expansion with conventional for factor devices. SSD storage on PC cards is the way to go in the future.

I'm actually kinda hoping that Apple is waiting on new industry standards for SSD on PC cards. That would be a bit smarter in the long run. In any event any sort of SSD would be far more beneficial for the user.
Quote:
This design could even allow them to increase the entry price so they don't feel like they are making a cheap machine, e.g $799 (256GB) and $999 (512GB). I'd probably buy a $799 model with 4GB RAM and then a Thunderbolt MXM slot, externally powered with a high-end mobile Geforce or AMD chip for $150-200.

I still don't get the obsession with external GPUs. You end up compromising graphical performance and at the same time cause serious congestion on your high speed I/O port. Beyond that you loose some significant advantages with respect to closely coupling the GPU to the CPU on the processor chip.
Quote:
I'd expect the GPU/MXM board to plug into the Thunderbolt and have HDMI and Mini-DP output, which then plugs into the display, leaving the other TB port free for storage.

Even if the Mini did come with two Thunderbolt ports I'm still not convinced it is a good idea. The speed at which you can share data between the CPU and the GPU is grossly compromised. As such things like OpenCL will be negatively impacted. If you look at the GPU as a peripheral that only consumes data it might make some sense even if the I/O is slow. If you look at the GPU as a partner in a heterogeneous environment then it is an extremely bad idea. Since the industry has recognized the value in these heterogeneous environments it is a bad idea to build a system that discounts the importance of a GPU.
post #60 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Even if the Mini did come with two Thunderbolt ports I'm still not convinced it is a good idea. The speed at which you can share data between the CPU and the GPU is grossly compromised.

Even though the iMac has 2 Thunderbolt ports it's still a total of 20G/s as it's still a single Z68.
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post #61 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69

Where does this obsession with GPUs attached to a Thunderbolt port come from? It is an extremely bad idea.

Sony is doing this with their ultra-portable. It basically means that you can buy an entry-level machine and get the highest-end graphics. I mocked up a price list here based on real-world MXM prices and models:



The Radeon 6970M in the highest iMac is on par with some of the fastest single desktop graphics cards you can buy and while that performance will reach on-die GPUs, it lets people get it now without breaking the bank.

I think people who buy a MBA for example, would love the idea of buying a $200-400 GPU to play high-end games at high quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69

ECC RAM in a Mini? Interesting but I'm not sure that would be compelling in it's traditional markets.

There's no particular reason for going with ECC, it's just an extra that comes for free picking the Xeon chip. That low-powered Xeon seemed better than the i5/i7 alternatives for the Mini.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69

Even if the Mini did come with two Thunderbolt ports I'm still not convinced it is a good idea. The speed at which you can share data between the CPU and the GPU is grossly compromised.

Intel designed TB for low-latency and essentially as an external PCI connection. It will certainly introduce some latency but the immediate impact is not clear. You're talking about nanosecond latencies so the real-world impact will depend on how you use it. You can buffer data to be operated on in the GPU memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Even though the iMac has 2 Thunderbolt ports it's still a total of 20G/s as it's still a single Z68.

x4 PCIe 2.0 has 16Gbps of bandwidth so enough for two TB ports. Apple suggests you get two full speed ports, not shared 10Gbps (or 20Gbps total per port) but I suspect up to 8Gbps each:

http://www.apple.com/uk/imac/performance.html
post #62 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Sx4 PCIe 2.0 has 16Gbps of bandwidth so enough for two TB ports. Apple suggests you get two full speed ports, not shared 10Gbps (or 20Gbps total per port) but I suspect up to 8Gbps each:

http://www.apple.com/uk/imac/performance.html

Only four lanes are used by Intel's Thunderbolt controller, the remaining lanes are used for things like Bluetooth and WiFi. Do the math and you'll realize that four PCIe 2.0 lanes are only good for 20Gbps of bandwidth, plus DMI between the Z68 chipset and Sandy Bridge is limited to 20Gbps itself. A single Thunderbolt port is capable of 20Gbps of bandwidth (10Gbps in each direction), so that works out well (if you don't use any of the other PCIe devices in the system at the same time). While the 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port, the 27-inch model has two. That's a total of up to 40Gbps of bandwidth to Thunderbolt devices, but only 20Gbps to the controller itself. Don't be fooled by the presence of two Thunderbolt ports on the 27-inch iMac, you don't get any more bandwidth than you would on the 21.5-inch model - you can just hook up more displays.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4340/2...-review-2011/3
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post #63 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

[INDENT][FONT="Arial"]Only four lanes are used by Intel's Thunderbolt controller, the remaining lanes are used for things like Bluetooth and WiFi. Do the math and you'll realize that four PCIe 2.0 lanes are only good for 20Gbps of bandwidth, plus DMI between the Z68 chipset and Sandy Bridge is limited to 20Gbps itself. A single Thunderbolt port is capable of 20Gbps of bandwidth (10Gbps in each direction), so that works out well (if you don't use any of the other PCIe devices in the system at the same time). While the 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port, the 27-inch model has two. That's a total of up to 40Gbps of bandwidth to Thunderbolt devices, but only 20Gbps to the controller itself. Don't be fooled by the presence of two Thunderbolt ports on the 27-inch iMac, you don't get any more bandwidth than you would on the 21.5-inch model - you can just hook up more displays.

DMI 2.0 and PCIe x4 are 20Gbps in both directions = 40Gbps of bandwidth. It could well be limited in some way but someone will have to test it out. Just wish manufacturers would hurry up with the devices.

Getting the PCIe 2.0 slot from Sonnet should at least allow people to hook up standard desktop GPUs or even fibre channel cards and max out the bandwidth on each port and see what the limits really are.
post #64 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Sony is doing this with their ultra-portable. It basically means that you can buy an entry-level machine and get the highest-end graphics. I mocked up a price list here based on real-world MXM prices and models:

What can I say to me it is a rip off! Maybe that is American economics speaking but I just don't see any value in connecting a GPU in this manner.
Quote:
The Radeon 6970M in the highest iMac is on par with some of the fastest single desktop graphics cards you can buy and while that performance will reach on-die GPUs, it lets people get it now without breaking the bank.

The problem as I see it is that you are missing key points here. The nature of GPU usage in modern OS'es is best leveraged with tightly coupled hardware. Moving the GPU off the device so that it is a considerable distance form the CPU, its caches and I/O buses is not the way of the future.
Quote:
I think people who buy a MBA for example, would love the idea of buying a $200-400 GPU to play high-end games at high quality.

I'm not convinced myself. First off gaming doesn't appear to be a big issue with the AIRs. Second that means good GPU performance is never with you in a portable sense. The whole point of the AIR platform is portability so I'm not seeing a lot of people jumping at the chance to use this hardware.
Quote:
There's no particular reason for going with ECC, it's just an extra that comes for free picking the Xeon chip. That low-powered Xeon seemed better than the i5/i7 alternatives for the Mini.

In some ways it would make for a nicer Mac Mini platform. Considering the frequency of RAM failures having hardware detection of complete failures may be useful to many. Not to mention the auto correction of bit errors.
Quote:
Intel designed TB for low-latency and essentially as an external PCI connection. It will certainly introduce some latency but the immediate impact is not clear. You're talking about nanosecond latencies so the real-world impact will depend on how you use it. You can buffer data to be operated on in the GPU memory.

There is no question that TB is orders of magnitude slower than access to you processors caches and on chip buses.
Quote:
x4 PCIe 2.0 has 16Gbps of bandwidth so enough for two TB ports. Apple suggests you get two full speed ports, not shared 10Gbps (or 20Gbps total per port) but I suspect up to 8Gbps each:

I think you need some perspective here. Look up the bandwidth of GPU memory systems or dedicated GPU cards and then look up memory bandwidths for Sandy Bridge processors. 10Gbps is chump change when you look at what is happening on a modern CPU these days.
post #65 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Only four lanes are used by Intel's Thunderbolt controller, the remaining lanes are used for things like Bluetooth and WiFi. Do the math and you'll realize that four PCIe 2.0 lanes are only good for 20Gbps of bandwidth, plus DMI between the Z68 chipset and Sandy Bridge is limited to 20Gbps itself. A single Thunderbolt port is capable of 20Gbps of bandwidth (10Gbps in each direction), so that works out well (if you don't use any of the other PCIe devices in the system at the same time). While the 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port, the 27-inch model has two. That's a total of up to 40Gbps of bandwidth to Thunderbolt devices, but only 20Gbps to the controller itself. Don't be fooled by the presence of two Thunderbolt ports on the 27-inch iMac, you don't get any more bandwidth than you would on the 21.5-inch model - you can just hook up more displays.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4340/2...-review-2011/3

That and that there is apparently already two different TB chips in the wild. In one case Apple bypassed the DMI bottle neck and made use of the on Processor PCI Express channels. While this gets around some of the bandwidth limitations it highlights that we already are seeing Apple implement TB in different ways. Beyond that the TB controller is apparently a cross bar switch, so adding more PCI-Express ports to the switch should be easy and thus allow for more bandwidth.

However that bandwidth really means nothing when you compare it to tightly coupled GPU/CPU systems. When looking at PCI-Express connected hardware, GPU's on that bus will quickly go the way of the Dodo bird. Especially as OS code and app code takes greater and greater advantage of heterogeneous computing.
post #66 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The nature of GPU usage in modern OS'es is best leveraged with tightly coupled hardware. Moving the GPU off the device so that it is a considerable distance form the CPU, its caches and I/O buses is not the way of the future.

Look up the bandwidth of GPU memory systems or dedicated GPU cards and then look up memory bandwidths for Sandy Bridge processors. 10Gbps is chump change when you look at what is happening on a modern CPU these days.

In the end, it comes down to real-world performance. IGPs are fine and are the way forward for graphics but for the moment, high-end dedicated cards still offer clear advantages, especially when we are talking about Intel's IGPs. It doesn't matter if an on-die GPU has all manner of theoretical advantages, if you can't run a game at the highest quality or can't have a CAD/3D viewport with a certain amount of polys or graphics software like Motion with as many different layers in HD, it makes no difference. Results are everything.

I'm with you on the AMD options but I don't see Apple going this route and with Intel IGPs, the Thunderbolt GPUs are the next best thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

First off gaming doesn't appear to be a big issue with the AIRs. Second that means good GPU performance is never with you in a portable sense.

There will be people who want to do the whole Starcraft/Warcraft thing but not have to buy a high-end MBP to run them at a decent quality. The external GPUs are used in the same way you use docking solutions for external drives. You don't need to take them with you but it's nice to have the performance when you are at a desk with a big screen.
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