Intel's chip design, not Apple's choices, reason behind Thunderbolt 3 & RAM issues in new MacBook P

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2016
The processors in the new 2016 MacBook Pro line have been identified, clarifying why some of the limitations surrounding the machine -- like limited Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth on some models -- exist.




After the furor of the initial "Hello Again" event died down, speculation began about the new MacBook Pro line, and seeming design choices that Apple made, which some believe compromise the machine. While Apple did make some choices, many of them were dictated by the limitations that Intel has placed on the company while the Kaby Lake processor family develops.

Skylake in the 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro

The base-model dual-Thunderbolt 3 2.0 i5 GHz processor has been identified as the 6360U processor. The 6360U launched in the third quarter of 2015, using Intel's 14nm process as with the rest of the processors in the new MacBook pro, and has a maximum turbo frequency of 3.1 GHz.

Thermal design profile on the chip is 15W, and it, like all the dual-core processors across the MacBook Pro line has a maximum of 12 PCI-E channels.

An upgrade option for the 13-inch dual-Thunderbolt machine is the dual 2.4 GHz i7 6660U processor. It has a peak of 3.4 GHz, and has a thermal design profile of 15W.

13-inch quad-Thunderbolt models

The 13-inch quad-Thunderbolt 3 has three processor choices -- the base model has a 2.9 GHz dual i5 6267U processor, with upgrade options for a 3.1 GHz dual i5 6287U, or a top-end 3.3 GHz dual i7 6567U.

The i5 6267U has a max speed of 3.3 GHz, and has a thermal design profile of 28W. An upgrade to the 6287U dual i5 will give the user a peak speed of 3.5 GHz, with the same 28-watt thermal design profile as the other upgrade processors.

Intel's 6567U dual i7 SKU also sports an identical 28W TDP, but is capable of reaching 3.6GHz with Turbo Boost enabled.

15-inch quad-Thunderbolt

The 15-inch quad-Thunderbolt MacBook Pro also has a choice of three processors -- the 6700HQ 2.6 GHz, 2.7 GHz 6820HQ, and 2.9 GHz 6920HQ. Peak turbo speeds are 3.5 GHz, 3.6 GHz, and 3.8 GHz, respectively.

All three of the quad-core processors have a 45-watt thermal design profile, and 16 PCI-e lanes.

Implications of Skylake in the MacBook Pro

All three of the quad-core processors available in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro have 16 PCI-e lanes, which is what allows for for max Thunderbolt bandwidth on the 15-inch model. Related, the 12 lanes on the 13-inch models are responsible for the "reduced bandwidth" on the right-hand side ports on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Additionally, the quad-core Kaby Lake processor still having not seen the light of day has caused other problems that are being attributed to Apple, and not as having been foisted upon the company by Intel. For low power consumption, Skylake only supports LPDDR3, which is limited to 16 gigabytes.

LPDDR4 will not be supported in MacBook Pro-bound Kaby Lake quad-core processors until possibly the end of 2017, and perhaps later.

macOS isn't the limiting factor, and hasn't been for some time. While Apple chose to not implement other technologies to boost the RAM capabilities of the MacBook Pro, it chose to not do so, in the interest of a thinner machine than previous generations, and longer battery life than it would have had had it implemented non-LP RAM workarounds.

Apple's statement that other RAM choices allowing for 32 gigabytes of RAM or more would cause decreased battery life is accurate, if not quite specific.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 193
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,847member
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    repressthisai46stevenoz
  • Reply 2 of 193
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 592member
    The 6360U launched in the third quarter of 2015
    So Apple's using CPUs that're a year behind. Will they still be using the same CPUs in 500 days? Why didn't they update the MacBooks in Q4 2015 with Skylake? If they'd updated in Q4 2015 they could have waited until Q1 2017 for Kaby Lake. They're completely out of sync with Intel's release cycles now, couldn't really have released the 2016 MBPs at a worse time. Sadly, it seems to me like they're trying to let the Mac die.
    schlacksingularitybdkennedy1002repressthiswigginaylkentropysviclauyycstevenozdysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 193
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,457member
    Aha. We knew this, didn't we, but not in such detail. Thanks, Mike.

    Will the complaining about Apple's pro focus now stop? I don't think so. Reason is out of style.
    jahajanhugheswilliamlondonandrewj5790randominternetpersonpaxmanmacplusplusration almagman1979pscooter63
  • Reply 4 of 193
    Copy and paste somewhere, corrected after reply #10:

    13-inch dual-Thunderbolt 2016

    2.0 GHz i5: 6360U

    2.4 GHz i7: 6660U


    13-inch quad-Thunderbolt 2016

    2.9 GHz dual i5: 6267U

    3.1 GHz dual i5: 6287U

    3.3 GHz dual i7: 6567U


    15-inch quad-Thunderbolt 2016

    2.6 GHz: 6700HQ

    2.7 GHz: 6820HQ

    2.9 GHz: 6920HQ


    edited October 2016 prismaticsSolirepressthis
  • Reply 5 of 193
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,439member
    Intel's Skylake processor is 2015 story. Kaby lake is 2016. Intel will release ICE lake 10nm end of 2017. If I was Apple, I would skip Kaby lake and pick up ICE lake in 2017 for Spring 2018 release of Macbook pro that Apple can design without any compromise.
    edited October 2016 repressthistmaygilly017entropyslongpathsteveh
  • Reply 6 of 193
    blastdoor said:
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    ARM does not support simultaneous multithreading which is practically indispensable for preemptive multitasking. They've given up on SMT for the sake of implementing 64-bit which was a wiser decision, obviously.
    prismaticsrandominternetpersonrepressthisasdasdcalidysamoria
  • Reply 7 of 193
    IanSIanS Posts: 23member
    Intel has been missing the boat for the last two years at least.
    prismaticsration alFatmanmagman1979repressthisaylkdavencalidysamoriaredgeminipa
  • Reply 8 of 193
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,847member
    blastdoor said:
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    ARM does not support simultaneous multithreading which is practically indispensable for preemptive multitasking. They've given up on SMT for the sake of implementing 64-bit which was a wiser decision, obviously.
    Uh... what?

    (1) Pre-emptive multitasking absolutely does NOT require SMT.
    (2) There is nothing about using ARM that prohibits Apple from implementing SMT. Apple simply hasn't chosen to implement SMT. 

    Bottom line -- it is not necessary to implement SMT, but Apple could if they judged it worthwhile. My guess is that they will eventually implement SMT, but I don't think it's essential. 
    afrodriDeelronschlackprismaticsrepressthistmay
  • Reply 9 of 193
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,883administrator
    Copy and paste somewhere:
    Yup, you're right. Got it, thanks.
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 193
    kpomkpom Posts: 602member
    The dual TB3 i7 is the 6660U, not 6567U. The former model Turbo Boosts to 3.4GHz, which matches what Intel has on ARK.
  • Reply 11 of 193
    kpomkpom Posts: 602member
    wood1208 said:
    Intel's Skylake processor is 2015 story. Kaby lake is 2016. Intel will release ICE lake 10nm end of 2017. If I was Apple, I would skip Kaby lake and pick up ICE lake in 2017 for Spring 2018 release of Macbook pro that Apple can design without any compromise.
    I wouldn't be surprised if they skip Kaby Lake (but then we'll get complaints about how out of date the MacBook is next year). At the same time, the latest specs are out, and as predicted, the Skylake chips aren't significantly faster than the Broadwell chips they replaced. That's also the case with Kaby Lake vs Skylake (almost all the gains are from clock speed increases, except for h.265 encoding).

    They got the basics right with the new MacBooks. If the price were $200 less about 80% of the complaints on web forums would go away.
    randominternetpersonrepressthisentropysksec
  • Reply 12 of 193
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 188member
    Wow, and you'd think Intel would be on its A-game after losing out on the iPhone sweepstakes in the 00's.
    repressthislongpathcali
  • Reply 13 of 193
    Intel's sluggish performance in recent years provides Apple plenty of reason to use ARM processors in Macs. Two or four iPhone ARMs running in parallel would be more powerful yet far less costly than one Intel DryLake processor.
    bdkennedy1002repressthis
  • Reply 14 of 193
    For my use the CPU choices and RAM at 16G is just fine. I assume more hard core applications require more such as video editing and music production?
    williamlondonrandominternetpersonrepressthispulseimagesdysamoriaiqatedo
  • Reply 15 of 193
    elijahg said:
    The 6360U launched in the third quarter of 2015
    So Apple's using CPUs that're a year behind. Will they still be using the same CPUs in 500 days? Why didn't they update the MacBooks in Q4 2015 with Skylake? If they'd updated in Q4 2015 they could have waited until Q1 2017 for Kaby Lake. They're completely out of sync with Intel's release cycles now, couldn't really have released the 2016 MBPs at a worse time. Sadly, it seems to me like they're trying to let the Mac die.
    Just because one Skylake chip launched does not mean the entire family launched. The better CPU's, which Apple picks, come later, and Intel has had (and probably still continues to have) yield issues at 14nm. The Kaby Lake chips they need aren't out yet either. 

    wood1208 said:
    Intel's Skylake processor is 2015 story. Kaby lake is 2016. Intel will release ICE lake 10nm end of 2017. If I was Apple, I would skip Kaby lake and pick up ICE lake in 2017 for Spring 2018 release of Macbook pro that Apple can design without any compromise.
    LOL no. Intel isn't even releasing high-end (higher than 15W) Cannonlake now in 2018. They're doing a 4th CPU on 14nm, Coffee Lake. Ice Lake coming before 2019 would be a shocker.
    ration alksec
  • Reply 16 of 193
    blastdoor said:
    blastdoor said:
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    ARM does not support simultaneous multithreading which is practically indispensable for preemptive multitasking. They've given up on SMT for the sake of implementing 64-bit which was a wiser decision, obviously.
    Uh... what?

    (1) Pre-emptive multitasking absolutely does NOT require SMT.
    (2) There is nothing about using ARM that prohibits Apple from implementing SMT. Apple simply hasn't chosen to implement SMT. 

    Bottom line -- it is not necessary to implement SMT, but Apple could if they judged it worthwhile. My guess is that they will eventually implement SMT, but I don't think it's essential. 
    (1) I said practically not absolutely. If you give people full preemptive multitasking on iOS they will immediately compare it to OS X where it benefits from SMT and obviously will reject.
    (2) Of course they can do that thanks to Mach kernel. But Intel supports this within the chip and such a support is not negligible.

    Eventually everything will resolve, but we're talking about the present.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 17 of 193
    blastdoor said:
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    ARM still has not caught up to Intel in terms of performance, so claiming about the performance of Apple's Intel-based machines and wishing for ARM instead is an odd position to be taking.
  • Reply 18 of 193
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member
    For my use the CPU choices and RAM at 16G is just fine. I assume more hard core applications require more such as video editing and music production?
    Not necessarily editing or audio, but After Effects and Photoshop can make great use of more RAM.
    techprod1gyrepressthis
  • Reply 19 of 193
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,883administrator
    kpom said:
    The dual TB3 i7 is the 6660U, not 6567U. The former model Turbo Boosts to 3.4GHz, which matches what Intel has on ARK.
    Yeah, that was the copy/paste error a previous poster was alluding to, which I fixed seconds before you posted this. Thanks!
  • Reply 20 of 193
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,408member
    blastdoor said:
    Well, it's Apple's fault that they keep using Intel processors instead of something based on their wind-storm ARM cores. 
    I am pretty sure you would complain about the 3rd party application compatibility problems and / or performance impact from x86 emulation.
    williamlondonrandominternetpersondysamoriacali
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