Intel working on OpenCL-capable Ivy Bridge chips bound for Apple's MacBook Air

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's MacBook Air may see an additional performance boost next year with Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which, according to a new report, will add support for the OpenCL technology.



The Cupertino, Calif., company bills its Open Computing Language standard as a technology that "dramatically accelerates" applications by unlocking the "amazing parallel computing power of the GPU." OpenCL especially offers improvements to financial applications, games and media applications by offloading non-graphics related tasks to the GPU.



CNet reports that the world's largest chipmaker is expected to add support for the technology in its line of Ivy Bridge processors due out next year. Intel boasts as much as a 60 percent performance boost over current Sandy Bridge chips, with special attention being paid to graphics performance enhancements.



The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro would stand the most to gain from Intel support for OpenCL. GPUs from AMD and Nvidia already support the technology, but Apple's ultra-thin notebook and entry-level MacBook Pro currently sport a graphics processor from Intel.



Apple's MacBook Air update in July made the notebook up to twice as fast as the previous generation, which made use of Intel's aging Core 2 Duo chips. The Mac maker has had some trouble keeping the the diminutive laptops in stock, as they have become an instant success.







AppleInsider exclusively reported earlier this week that the MacBook Pro lineup will see a modest speed bump while Apple waits for Ivy Bridge processors to reach the market. The first Ivy Bridge chips had been slated to debut in late 2011, but are now expected to arrive in March or April of next year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    The leader in OpenCL for GPUs and CPUs is actually AMD. Their implementation and Apple's are second to none.



    Intel is dragging far behind. Nvidia is still trying to hedge its bets with CUDA but has full OpenCL 1.1 in it's driver stack.
  • Reply 2 of 26
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    What about the Mac mini?
  • Reply 3 of 26
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    What about the Mac mini?



    It uses slightly more powerful chips than the air.
  • Reply 4 of 26
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,051member
    So IB's graphics are about 60% faster than SB, if Intel is to be believed. OpenCL is slower on chips of this calibre than modern processors, I don't think that's a huge deal maker or breaker. Unless for example you could use the iGPU at the same time as the dGPU, while the latter was doing the graphics work the former was helping the processor with texture decompression and such. But for now you can only use one with Intel. AMD lets you use both, but of course we won't see AMD processors in Apple computers at least for another generation, probably much more.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    So IB's graphics are about 60% faster than SB, if Intel is to be believed. OpenCL is slower on chips of this calibre than modern processors, I don't think that's a huge deal maker or breaker. Unless for example you could use the iGPU at the same time as the dGPU, while the latter was doing the graphics work the former was helping the processor with texture decompression and such. But for now you can only use one with Intel. AMD lets you use both, but of course we won't see AMD processors in Apple computers at least for another generation, probably much more.



    What are you talking about? There is no dedicated GPU in the MBA.



    MBA does not have a quad core i7 at 3 GHz with the latest graphics chip. Rather, it's designed to be fast enough for many users with an emphasis on size and power consumption. If it's fast enough today, increasing the speed by 60% is big news to a lot of people - people for whom it was fast enough, but just barely... or people for whom it was not quite fast enough.



    Darn - I was getting ready to buy an MBA to replace my MBP later this year. This is a big enough jump (especially when combined with the lower energy usage of Ivy Bridge) that I may have to hold off a while.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,051member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    What are you talking about? There is no dedicated GPU in the MBA.



    I know. I meant for the rest, hence using two chips at once, if Intel ever made that possible. 60% boost is nice, but on a GPU of this calibre OpenCL won't be faster than the same code running on a CPU anyways.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    Apple's OpenCL implementation fully allows use of multiple OpenCL-capable GPU's simultaneously. If you have a Mac Pro, you can add additional GPUs to increase your OpenCL capabilities.



    On machines with an integrated GPU and a discrete GPU, you have three targets for your OpenCL code, the CPU, the integrated GPU and the discrete GPU.



    As for waiting for the new Air, I purchased the 11" Air with i7/256GB, and have been using it for all-day meetings along with programming sessions while connected to a larger monitor. You really don't want to wait unless you're buying it for entertainment value. It's an absolute game changer to have something so light, and yet so powerful.



    Lion + 11" display + full-screen apps is much, much better than I imagined.
  • Reply 8 of 26
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    I know. I meant for the rest, hence using two chips at once, if Intel ever made that possible. 60% boost is nice, but on a GPU of this calibre OpenCL won't be faster than the same code running on a CPU anyways.



    I don't believe you fully understand OpenCL on OS X.



    On Ivy Bridge, OpenCL provides "separate" and "additional" SIMD compute resources that you would otherwise not have access to. Depending on model, you'll have 12 or more execution units, each running at a minimum of 600MHz. That's 4.8GHz that shares the same cache as the processor, so you won't even need to waste time loading the data onto the GPU and flushing the results when you're done. OpenCL will be HUGE for Ivy Bridge.
  • Reply 9 of 26
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    I know. I meant for the rest, hence using two chips at once, if Intel ever made that possible. 60% boost is nice, but on a GPU of this calibre OpenCL won't be faster than the same code running on a CPU anyways.



    It's irrelevant.



    High end machines will have dedicated GPUs, so the dedicated GPU will provide most of the graphics horsepower.



    Low end machines will just use the Intel integrated GPU - so the gains are important.



    Only a very small number of machines (such as the MBP) have both - and the ability to switch between them. The faster iGPU will be important when running in 'low power' mode.



    You're also wrong about OpenCL not being powerful on a GPU like this. It depends on the task being accomplished. For the right tasks, the GPU (even in iGPU) will be very powerful. Look at the things that your graphics card is currently doing. The GPU (again, even in iGPU) can accomplish many things much faster than even a fast CPU. The same thing could apply to OpenCL if the tasks are properly chosen.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    So much for the "Apple dumping Intel" rumor and gossipmongers.
  • Reply 11 of 26
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MJ Web View Post


    So much for the "Apple dumping Intel" rumor and gossipmongers.



    It's fun.

    "Apple to sign foundry deal for A6 processors",

    "Apple to dump Intel and move to ARM",

    "Apple going to use Intel in Macs for another few years and ARM on it's mobile devices".
  • Reply 12 of 26
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,785member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    So IB's graphics are about 60% faster than SB,



    if we are lucky, but this is Intel we are talking about it is hard to say what is 60% faster.

    Quote:

    if Intel is to be believed. OpenCL is slower on chips of this calibre than modern processors,



    Where did you get that idea from? Seriously if you look hard enough you can find a benchmark that proves anything. It is not benchmarks that make the difference it is the overall system improvements that make or break the usefulness of OpenCL codes. So if you can do task x on the GPU in parallel with the CPU you win, sometimes the win is huge even if the GPU might be technically slower, in the end you have more cores working for you.



    However you basic assumption that the GPU is slower is in many cases nonsense. Even slow GPUs can soundly outperform the CPU given a task that fits the execution resources of a GPU.



    The whole point of OpenCL is to leverage the GPU with tasks that make sense to run on the GPU. The GPU is no place (today) to run branchy narrow code. GPUs are optimized for cores that can work on a lot of data in parallel.

    Quote:

    I don't think that's a huge deal maker or breaker.



    On the AIRs and machines like it without a discreet GPU it is huge. It will effectively make the machine much more responsive over a wider array of workloads.

    Quote:

    Unless for example you could use the iGPU at the same time as the dGPU, while the latter was doing the graphics work the former was helping the processor with texture decompression and such. But for now you can only use one with Intel. AMD lets you use both, but of course we won't see AMD processors in Apple computers at least for another generation, probably much more.



    Actually I do wish that Apple would take AMD more seriously. It is good that they are using AMD GPUs but I see their long term Fusion plans as being far more in line with Apples needs than Intels. AMD is going very hard after the idea of heterogeneous computing and has detailed the long term plan to get there. Intel on the other hand seems to be resisting and being dragged into the tech by Apple.



    Finally OpenCL does not equal texture computing. That is a gross misunderstanding of the wide array of uses for GPU acceleration.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Actually I do wish that Apple would take AMD more seriously. It is good that they are using AMD GPUs but I see their long term Fusion plans as being far more in line with Apples needs than Intels.



    Just wondering because I never paid attention to this in the past, but why did they move away from nvidia for graphics in general? The two companies don't even seem to be on speaking terms now and I recall reading something about it some time ago. I just can't remember details.
  • Reply 14 of 26
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    I think some misconceptions here are because some people may be confusing OpenCL and OpenGL.



    OpenCL is still alive? It was announced years ago, yet no software as far as I know takes advantage of it. Certainly nothing on OS X I know of.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,785member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Just wondering because I never paid attention to this in the past, but why did they move away from nvidia for graphics in general? The two companies don't even seem to be on speaking terms now and I recall reading something about it some time ago. I just can't remember details.





    I'm not sure what the deal was but it apparently involved some arrogance on NVidias part. In any event these days AMD has all around better GPUs so it isn't like Apple is loosing here.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,785member
    Apple basically set the standard for leveraging GPUs, OpenCL is the most widely used standard for leveraging GPUs these days.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    I think some misconceptions here are because some people may be confusing OpenCL and OpenGL.



    Nope we are talking about Open Cee Ell

    Quote:

    OpenCL is still alive? It was announced years ago, yet no software as far as I know takes advantage of it. Certainly nothing on OS X I know of.



    Then you don't know what is happening in the developer world. Do a little searching and you will find a surprising amount of support for OpenCL. When I hear statements like this I take it as an indication that the person complaining about OpenCL really doesn't understand what it is.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    I'm not sure what the deal was but it apparently involved some arrogance on NVidias part. In any event these days AMD has all around better GPUs so it isn't like Apple is loosing here.



    Yeah, odd that we've never had one of the Firepro options on the mac pro rather than the quadros with all of the ATI/AMD cards currently in macs. The reason I mention this is because the quadro cards have had massive driver, performance, and heat (to the point of where it causes artifacts and kills the card early) complaints.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    OpenCL is still alive? It was announced years ago, yet no software as far as I know takes advantage of it. Certainly nothing on OS X I know of.



    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4728



    "Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4 all require an advanced graphics card (or GPU) for many of the features these application use."



    http://www.phaseone.com/en/Software/...ade-Pro-6.aspx



    "Interactive Speed. OpenCL support accelerates your editing tasks"



    http://blog.cudachess.org/2010/02/ap...-3-and-opencl/



    "Apple Aperture 3 is probably the first mainstream application to use OpenCL technology. It?s not on the specifications or technical informations, but it use OpenCL for RAW decoding and processing"



    OpenCL is going to have a slow uptake because like any optimisation code, developers need to think hard about how to use it best. Combine that with the fact that the vast majority of people have no OpenCL-capabale GPUs.



    Ivy Bridge changes this because it means that 100% of all shipping x86 computers are OpenCL-capable. This makes it worthwhile to use it.



    The only downside I've seen with OpenCL is that there aren't enough resources reserved for your UI so the UI doesn't refresh as smoothly. This happens if you have Motion and FCPX in the background doing their rendering.



    Being able to use the IGP for the UI and the dGPU for OpenCL would be good or even just reserve 25% of the GPU for the UI.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Then you don't know what is happening in the developer world. Do a little searching and you will find a surprising amount of support for OpenCL. When I hear statements like this I take it as an indication that the person complaining about OpenCL really doesn't understand what it is.



    I don't care about the "developer world." What's happening in the consumer world? Not an awful lot, judging by Marvin's post. Just Apple's video and photo apps and a couple of others. Photoshop doesn't use it. Neither does Premiere, Handbrake or any other power-hungry consumer app. So far, it's been a big "Openwhat?" for consumers, including power users.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Not an awful lot, judging by Marvin's post. Just Apple's video and photo apps and a couple of others. Photoshop doesn't use it. Neither does Premiere, Handbrake or any other power-hungry consumer app. So far, it's been a big "Openwhat?" for consumers, including power users.



    You can't switch complex apps overnight to use it. They explain on the Handbrake site why they don't use OpenCL yet:



    https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/SupportFAQ#pixiedust



    I think it's best they don't use it because while it might double encoding speed, it would make the UI unusable during that period and it's nice to multi-task while encoding in the background.



    For apps like Motion, Aperture, Final Cut etc. the real-time feedback is beneficial so you want to process as quickly as possible.



    Adobe already use GPU computation but they went with CUDA (Nvidia-only) with their Mercury engine because OpenCL wasn't ready at the time of development.



    It's not meant to be a technology to speed up everything, just things that really benefit from massively parallel processing and this tends to be graphics rendering more than anything because of the way the pixels are produced.



    OpenCL was only put into action 3 years ago, which isn't a long time when you have to get a standard approved, a stable specification and production-ready drivers along with hardware support.



    There's a physics engine called Bullet which will use OpenCL:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoIyRoANAy4



    This will be used in games, possibly iOS games to get round the issues of PhysX being CUDA-only and Havok being owned by a company who doesn't know how to make good GPUs (Intel). OpenCL is at version 1.1 and this was only approved in June 2010. We'll see support in iOS devices in the coming year or two:



    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...item&px=ODc3NA



    It's very much in the groundwork and experimentation stage just now and it's annoying to have to wait for consumer benefits but at least one day you'll be able to tell your kids or grandkids how lucky they are they didn't have to live without it and tell them stories of the waiting times you had to endure that they have no appreciation for.
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