Intel's latest Processors and Apple

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  • Reply 21 of 59
    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?
  • Reply 22 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 23 of 59
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.

    Quote:

    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.

    Quote:



    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.
  • Reply 24 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 25 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 26 of 59
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.
  • Reply 27 of 59
    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?
  • Reply 28 of 59
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.
  • Reply 29 of 59
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    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.
  • Reply 30 of 59
    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?
  • Reply 31 of 59
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    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.
  • Reply 32 of 59
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.

    Quote:

    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.

    Quote:

    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.

    Quote:

    - 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.

    Quote:

    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
  • Reply 33 of 59
    guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    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.
  • Reply 34 of 59
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    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?
  • Reply 35 of 59
    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?
  • Reply 36 of 59
    lbvlbv Posts: 1member
    Has anyone considered the possibility of using the NVIDIA Optimus in conjunction with the Arrendale chipsets?
  • Reply 37 of 59
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    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.
  • Reply 38 of 59
    pbpb Posts: 4,237member
    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.
  • Reply 39 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 40 of 59
    pbpb Posts: 4,237member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    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.



    With Apple's experience on portable design, such changes are trivial to implement if they decide to get rid of the optical drive. These days portable processing power is more important than a built-in optical drive.



    Besides Apple sells an external one to fill the gap. I am wondering why they have not already ditched it... too busy with the iP* world I suppose.
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