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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Volume production of the next new generation of Intel's desktop and notebook CPUs will begin earlier than originally anticipated in response to enthusiasm from chip buyers like Apple who have sampled the new parts.



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



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



Apple's use of Intel CPUs



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



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



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



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







What's new in Sandy Bridge



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



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



In addition to being incrementally faster, Sandy Bridge chips are designed to run cooler and more energy efficient, targeting the shift toward more mobile notebook systems. Whether Apple will aggressively move toward Sandy Bridge across the board and unify its Mac architectures under one design remains to be seen; the company may choose to migrate to Sandy Bridge on the high end and continue using the cheaper Core 2 Duo parts on lower end Macs, given the relatively moderate jump in performance Intel is promising.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Finally a MacBook air update.



    Good interim update before the switch to AMD!!!
  • Reply 2 of 35
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    It will be interesting how this will affect the upper end MBPs which just got new CPUs & GPUs.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    joe hsjoe hs Posts: 488member
    Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?
  • Reply 4 of 35
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post


    Finally a MacBook air update.



    Good interim update before the switch to AMD!!!



    Don't even want an AMD chip in mine. I have not had good experience with them at all and prefer the real McCoy thank you very much.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


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



    The real McCoy is what and will have out in six months and in a year!
  • Reply 6 of 35
    t0mat0t0mat0 Posts: 58member
    Huron River, and Light Peak/ USB3 - now there are some things to enjoy for the 2011 MBP update.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post


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



    Well, since the article said the new stuff won't be in machines 'till 2011, the timing will be just about right for the next "scheduled" update.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Hm... so will this bring back nvidia integrated? Sorry I am a little out of it but I read the article and looked at the pics and it looks identical to what is there in 2010 macbooks already. What am I not seeing?
  • Reply 9 of 35
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


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



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



    All in all, still happy w/ my 17"MBP 2009--does what it has to fast enough.
  • Reply 10 of 35
    londonlondon Posts: 24member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post


    Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?



    My question exactly. Way overdue for an update.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


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



    No. The intel integrated graphics are on the die with the CPU. Apple will need to continue with the version of optimus and dedicated graphics. The Intel IG is supposed to be better though, as the gpu will be fabbed at 32 nm like the CPU and probably will have a faster clock speed. Who knows until it comes out? Intel doesn't deliver when it comes to gpus IMO.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


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



    Thanks for clarification.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    The "typos" in this "article" make it awfully hard to read.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,721member
    If I may interrupt for a moment...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


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



    That has got to be the understatement of the year.



    OK, please continue...
  • Reply 15 of 35
    mfagomfago Posts: 24member
    A nitpick:



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



    Sandy bridge will only have a single chip, with all three components (and more, evidently) integrated onto one piece of silicon. This is important as there are inefficiencies in having the memory controller off of the CPU die, even if it is on the same package.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post


    Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?



    Sandy Bridge Mac Pros....mmmm



    please soon!
  • Reply 17 of 35
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    I'd love to see real amd64 platform competition of Apple sanctioned CPUs from both Intel and AMD.



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



    I can hope for AMD Fusion and it's GPGPU solution and multi-core CPUs but I'm sure Intel would get their panties in a bunch instead of making their platform the superior choice.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    kwatsonkwatson Posts: 95member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post


    Great. So where are the Mac Pro's?



    Ditto. Apple just lost a fair size order of Xserves from me to Dell (R815's - magnificent), about to lose my personal Mac Pro purchase as well. Can only hold out so long, good CPUs for an update have been out for half a year already, no excuse, and tired of toys.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kwatson View Post


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



    No, what it tells everyone with any intuitive abilities that you don't run OS X on your Mac Hardware, or if you did you would be making a conscious platform change.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    rcfarcfa Posts: 775member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


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



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



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



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