One Apple GPU, one giant leap in graphics for iPhone 8

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in iPhone
Apple is building its own GPU architecture, but why? Rather than being motivated by simple cost savings, evidence points to the timing of a significant technical leap forward that could be as big of an advance as iOS was ten years ago.


Apple's previous leaps in GPU performance just the beginning

Not for cost savings

Apple has been reportedly working on a GPU project for at least four years. By early 2013 it was known to have hired a dozen former AMD graphics engineers working near Orlando, while posting job openings involving topics such as "modeling GPU hardware."

Why would the company launch an internal GPU development team when it already owned a stake in Imagination Technologies, the British reference platform designer that Apple had been using for its mobile GPUs since the launch of the original iPhone? Why not just buy Imagination outright, or continue to license its technology?

The answer is probably not centered on cost savings. Apple pays relatively little to license Imagination's PowerVR GPU designs. In fiscal 2016, Apple paid Imagination less than $100 million for technology used across sales of more than 250 million devices that drove over $157 billion in revenues. Developing its own GPU designs would certainly cost Apple more than $100 million of R&D per year.

The Metal GPU

To understand why Apple would consider migrating away from PowerVR GPU designs, consider a parallel graphics shift Apple introduced in 2014: its proprietary Metal API (application programming interface) for driving graphics tasks to the GPU.

Metal API


Apple was already deeply invested in the general-purpose OpenGL graphics API (specifically OpenGL ES on the mobile side). The reason for introducing Metal wasn't that it saved the company money, but rather that it enabled it to tightly customize iOS (and later macOS and tvOS) development to the subset of graphics capabilities that Apple actually shipped, throwing away tons of irrelevant overhead to radically optimize how efficiently Metal code could use available GPUs.

OpenGL was designed to flexibly work across OS platforms and across GPU architectures. That flexibility grew into an issue for Apple because it limited its ability to optimize performance. Microsoft, Nvidia, AMD and other companies had already introduced alternatives to OpenGL in order to focus on their own strengths. Metal did the same for Apple's platforms.

Similar to OpenGL, Imagination's stewardship of PowerVR GPUs is aimed at solving the needs of a wide variety of licensees working on various product categories. In fact, the British chip designer has been working to lessen its dependance upon Apple for years.

Its latest major, next-generation Furian mobile GPU designs were expected to debut in the next two years. The company's description of Furian notes that it is "designed to scale efficiently to the higher performance points required for applications such as AR and VR," and touts its "leadership in its existing markets such as mobile, tablets and automotive."

PowerVR Furian


Given Apple's tight secrecy on its plans for future products, it doesn't require any deep understanding of Furian to realize that Imagination's goals were not laser-focused on solving the future issues Apple faced, partly because Imagination does not even know what those goals are in any detail, and partly because Imagination has been publicly seeking to serve the needs of a broader set of customers outside of Apple.

Across the last decade, PowerVR has served Apple comparably to OpenGL. However, the general purpose design of PowerVR--and the independent direction that Imagination is heading in for its future designs--both indicate that Apple is designing its own GPU in part to ditch the extraneous GPU goals Imagination is working on with its other clients in mind. That's the same intent Apple had in introducing Metal.

The San Francisco GPU

Another example of Apple replacing an apparently functional, status quo technology with its own highly-optimized alternative approach is the San Francisco fonts it began introducing in 2014. Apple developed the new font specifically for use on Apple Watch, to enhance legibility of text on its small display.

The next year, Apple introduced a variant of San Francisco for iOS 9 and macOS El Capitan. It has since extended use of its new font to its website, advertising and its corporate branding right down to the characters printed on its keyboards.




Apple had previously been using a variety of fonts (mostly related to Helvetica) for different purposes. Converging on one custom-built font family (at least for Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets) served a series of technical purposes while also creating a consistent appearance and character.

One feature of San Francisco is its built-in support for Dynamic Type, which scales text sizes while adjusting its weight, leading and tracking to remain consistently legible. The design of San Francisco considered its uses spanning from a small watch to mobile devices to desktop Macs to an Apple TV home theater television.

Apple is likely taking a similarly broad approach to designing a GPU. As with San Francisco, Apple is almost certainly aiming purely to replace PowerVR on specific devices where it's needed most: iOS devices, Apple Watch and Apple TV, although it is possible that it could eventually seek to use its GPU on the Mac as well.

It might even make more sense to eventually use a custom Apple GPU in future Macs than to shift away from Intel x86 processors to use an Apple-developed ARM-based CPU. The former would require much less work from app developers than the latter.An Apple GPU could be designed to serve specific use cases Imagination doesn't have any reason to address

Regardless of whether it will ever be used in Macs, Apple's apparent intent to replace Imagination's GPU across all of the products that currently use PowerVR explains one reason why it would want to replace PowerVR in the first place: an Apple GPU could be designed to serve specific use cases Imagination doesn't have any reason to address.

The most obvious example is Apple Watch. There is not really any addressable "smartwatch market" outside of Apple, and certainly not one that focuses on the $300 price tier for a digital watch with a fluid UI with battery constraints closely aligned to Apple's. The primary competition to Apple Watch comes from a mix of luxury mechanical watches and simpler "smart band" activity trackers.

Imagination has no reason to design GPUs that scale down for optimized use in a wearable, the same way that there's no apparent demand for a general purpose typeface that scales effectively on a small OLED screen.

Another analog to San Francisco: prior to deploying it virtually everywhere, Apple had largely been using Helvetica, a font widely used by other companies. If Apple had simply worked to adapt Helvetica, other companies could copy its approach, and consumers would have a harder time seeing an apparent difference.

Along similar lines, other companies do currently use PowerVR GPUs in their competing products. A notable example is Amazon, which sells a low-priced Fire TV box that currently uses a Chinese MediaTek chip that incorporates a PowerVR GPU.

Apple could either work with Imagination to develop GPU designs appropriate for use in TV boxes (which other companies could subsequently avail themselves of) or it can develop its own GPU that scales effectively for TV applications (and that its competitors can't benefit from).

Having seen its desktop interface appropriated by Microsoft and its Post-PC mobile user interface appropriated by Google and then brazenly stolen by Samsung, Apple has good reason to avoid giving away its work when it doesn't need to.

The APFS GPU

A third broad technology that Apple is currently deploying is its new Apple File System (APFS), first announced last year and already deployed in iOS 10.3 (and apparently also in the latest watchOS and tvOS). It is expected to reach Macs later this year.

Like OpenGL and Helvetica, Apple's previous HFS+ file system was essentially functional and could have been left in place longer. However, there were also known issues that needed to be fixed to both enhance the current platform and to enable new features desired for the future.

Like Metal and San Francisco, Apple's APFS was designed to scale, taking into consideration the needs of a small wearable like Apple Watch all the way up to a desktop Mac, while also serving iPhones, iPads and Apple TV.

While Metal focused on stripping away unnecessary layers of OpenGL overhead and San Francisco accommodated font needs unique to Apple's product line, APFS replaces the existing HFS+ with essentially a future-proofed file system designed to accommodate growth and upcoming needs.

Similarly, today's PowerVR GPUs currently allow Apple to remain competitive in areas ranging from Apple Watch to iPhone to iPad Pro to Apple TV. However, to accommodate future capabilities, Apple will want a clean foundation to build upon, similar to what APFS does on the file system level. Like HFS+, the design of PowerVR dates back into a previous era of technology

Like HFS+, the design of PowerVR dates back into a previous era of technology. Its original design dates back to the mid 90s, but even its mobile-specific variants were developed more than a decade ago, then expanded upon in successive generations. Its "tile-based deferred rendering" is somewhat unique among GPUs, but shares some of its approach with ARM's Mali and Intel's integrated HD graphics engine.

Given how dramatically mobile technology has developed since 2005, it's not hard to imagine that there may be many new, more effective approaches to accelerating graphics than what Imagination has been expanding upon over the last decade. The fact that Imagination itself is working on a speculative, next generation design for future graphics makes that obvious.

The iOS GPU

With Imagination's Furian on the horizon, it may also be the perfect timing for Apple to launch a radically new GPU design that breaks with the existing status quo to offer a major leap in graphics capabilities.

Apple realized a decade ago that technology could enable a new class of mobile "super phone" with the ability to run desktop-class applications based on a scaled down macOS, rather than using one of the decade-old mobile platforms of the day originally designed for 1990's era PDAs or pagers (like Palm OS, Windows CE, Java Mobile/Blackberry or Nokia's Symbian). The result was iOS.

In a similar fashion, Apple could apply much of what it knows about mobile devices and operating system needs to develop a super GPU for the next decade of mobile devices (and potentially other applications, ranging from Macs to VR headsets to automotive).

Some of the concepts Apple could incorporate in a new GPU design include ray tracing rendering for photorealistic images with real time shadows, reflections and translucency--a capability Imagination demoed last year but that apparently hasn't been adopted. In addition to making mobile games look as impressive as more powerful desktop GPUs, such a technology could also radically enhance the user interface with fluid animations and advanced lighting effects.

There are many other areas where a custom-designed GPU could set iOS devices apart as dramatically as iOS itself did a decade ago. These could include new optimized GPGPU functions for file and memory compression, file encryption, new realtime video effects and filters, Machine Learning, and perhaps even specific optimizations for compiling JavaScript or Swift, accelerating the web or enabling software development on iPads.

Apple has touted its camera Image Signal Processor built into its A-series chips, noting that iPhone 7 can process "100 billion operations in 25 milliseconds" to perform such tasks as focus, exposure, white balance and noise reduction. The company also incorporates other computational engines in its custom SoCs ranging from audio noice cancelation to the Secure Enclave.

A10 Fusion


It may be that some general purpose functions currently performed by the CPU could be moved to a GPU core specially designed to accommodate a wide range of GPGPU tasks, or even be added as specific new hardware accelerated co-processing features, blurring the line between the CPU, GPU and other processing cores on the SoC.

Given the advanced work Apple already does in optimizing its mobile CPU cores and much of the other components of its A-series chips, it's not hard to grasp how the company could aggressively push mobile computing ahead in new custom silicon features. In addition to graphics, Apple is also rumored to be working on power management (currently outsourced to Dialog) and could eventually move into customizing its own modem hardware (currently outsourced to Qualcomm and Intel).

Apple can ship new tech

Other companies are also working on their own future plans for mobile GPUs. In addition to Imagination's Furian, Nvidia hopes to advance its Tegra tablet and automotive chips and Qualcomm has its proprietary Adreno mobile GPU. Samsung uses ARM's Mali GPU. However, Apple has a key difference in that it isn't just speculatively developing technology it hopes to be able to sell in the future.

Unlike any other company, Apple has the unique ability to immediately roll out new technologies across hundreds of millions of devices, both via software updates to its existing installed base, and through high-volume premium device sales that are effectively guaranteed to find buyers. Apple has the unique ability to immediately roll out new technologies across hundreds of millions of devices

In 2012 it rapidly converted its mobile products to Lightning, and the next year it launched Touch ID and 64-bit apps with the A7; both are now ubiquitous. Every year it refreshes 80 percent or more of its iOS installed base with modern software, rolling out such features as the aforementioned Metal, San Francisco and APFS.

Apple's largest competitor sells roughly 300 million smartphones every year, but only around 40-45 million of those will be premium class Galaxy S8 flagship models. Many are shipped new with old versions of Android, and will never be updated.

Samsung could design a new premium GPU but would have trouble spreading it very far because most of its phones are low-end models. Even its Galaxy S8 is split between at least two different GPU designs: its own Exynos/Mali and Qualcomm's Snapdragon/Adreno. Samsung couldn't even roll out Tizen phones or Galaxy Gear watches in meaningful numbers.

Google has proven it has little ability roll out its platform software to a significant slice of its installed base every year. Even Microsoft has shown it can't roll out Windows 10 rapidly--even when it gives it away and forces updates on users. Many hardware makers have also flopped out of the gate, ranging from Amazon's Fire Phone to HP's experiments with webOS to Nvidia's attempts to sell Shield hardware and Google efforts to sell Nexus Q, Google TV and Pixel C.

Apple could introduce a radical new GPU architecture and establish it across its product line extremely rapidly, potentially as quickly as this year, with iPhone 8, Apple TV 5 and Apple Watch 3. As it has in earlier years, it could also update previous models with a new SoC, including its new GPU on them as well.

Apple is not afraid to pay more for strategic advancement

Apple has regularly invested lavishly to deliver advanced features that its competitors would have difficulty copying, whether in hardware, software or in integrated silicon. In large part, it is uniquely capable of doing this because it generates billions in revenue from consistently successful, profitable hardware releases. Apple is now spending over $10 billion annually on R&D. Compare that Nvidia spends less than $1.5 billion per year.

Source: Above Avalon


The biggest complaint currently being made about Apple targets the lack of updates for the Mac Pro, a high end PC that sells in extremely small quantities. Everyone else in the PC or mobile industry has the opposite problem: all they have are Mac Pro-like flagship products that sell in limited volumes, and high-volume commodity products that don't sell for enough to warrant significant advancement.

Look at some examples of Apple's investments. In hardware, Apple paid $356 million to acquire AuthenTec, then invested additional R&D into perfecting and hardening Touch ID for reliable, constant use by mainstream users. Motorola's 2010 Atrix had previously attempted to use AuthenTec sensors, but couldn't get them to reliably work and abandoned the feature within a year.

AuthenTec noted that apart from Apple, other vendors balked at the high component cost of its best fingerprint sensors, largely due to the fact that outside of iPhones, smartphones are either high-volume / low-cost, or low-volume / high-cost, neither of which supports the use (or development) of a speculative and expensive new component.

Beyond hardware, Apple has also invested billions of dollars into developing software, ranging from iOS frameworks to Xcode development tools to finished apps (such as the movie making portfolio of Final Cut Pro, iMovie and the new Clips). No other mobile hardware maker has successfully written its own OS and maintained it for ten years while capturing a comparable lead in profitability.

The software "innovation" of Apple's competition--particularly Samsung--is largely made up of imitative gimmickry, thin UI skins and lazy basic bundled apps rather than cutting edge, productive investments in the development of core software technologies. Samsung has now worked on two OS releases, Bada and Tizen, that have flopped as an alternative to Android despite the fact that Samsung sells around half of the world's Android phones--and would clearly prefer to ship its own OS.

Google and Microsoft have spent lots of money on their mobile OS platforms without being able to recoup their investments in sales of hardware, OS licensing or from ecosystem-related income. Other attempts to launch mobile platforms--including webOS and Ubuntu Touch--have also suffered from an inability to fund their development.

At the intersection of hardware and software, Apple has also invested billions into silicon. In 2008, Apple began work to build its own silicon design team that resulted in 2010's A4, released just as third parties were offering their own SoCs that beat the commodity chips Apple had been using from Samsung.

Texas Instruments's OMAP, Nvidia's Tegra and Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip families had all threatened to speed Android and Windows Mobile past Apple simply through superior brute computing capacity. Apple not only kept up, but by 2013 the 64-bit A7 catapulted Apple far ahead of everyone else in the mobile device industry. TI and Nvidia dropped out of the phone business, and Qualcomm was sent reeling.

The time appears ripe for similar jump on the GPU side.
Rayz2016edredmcdavemcdave
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    edited April 2017 xzulaptopleon
  • Reply 2 of 54
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    "the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from"



    fotoformatradarthekatchuy@mac.comGeorgeBMactmaybrakkenmike1Rayz2016RacerhomieXnetmage
  • Reply 3 of 54
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,074member
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    You mean like legacy PS/2, COM, Floppy disks, SATA, etc..??

    And what about the PowerPC fiasco?  What of it?  Last time I checked, Macs are selling pretty well right now regardless of how the PowerPC drama went.
    mwhitenetmageSolipscooter63jbdragonjony0StrangeDaysDon.Andersenwatto_cobradamn_its_hot
  • Reply 4 of 54
    lwiolwio Posts: 66member
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    Agreed for the pro market but the the consumer market rarely upgrades anything. An upgradable  Mac Pro and MacBook Pro is ideal.
    williamlondonnetmage
  • Reply 5 of 54
    I'd bet $$$ that the A11 in the next iPhone has a custom GPU. Apple didn't tell Imagination they'll stop using their GPUs in 15-24 months because they think they can build a GPU that fast - they told them because they already have a working GPU and that's how long it'll take them to stop selling older devices (like the iPhone 7) that still use an Imagination GPU.
    firelockradarthekatwilliamlondonFatmantmaymwhitemike1netmagepatchythepirateedred
  • Reply 6 of 54
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,310moderator
    For a long time the Apple naysayers squawked about how the competition had better specs or implemented some new tech first. Hey failed to  mention they were cherry picking from the entire rest of the industry to compare against one company.  Similar claims could have been made against any of the companies they lumped together against Apple.  But here we are, with Apple not merely caught up to the entire rest of the industry, but beginning to pull ahead.  Will those same people give credit to this one company for having beat an entire industry?  Likely not, but credit is not what Apple seeks.  Apple seeks to delight its customers, and in the future their ability to do so will outpace the rest of the field.  
    MacProRacerhomieXlkrupprandominternetpersonbrucemcpscooter63edredrare commentjony0StrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 54
    For a long time the Apple naysayers squawked about how the competition had better specs or implemented some new tech first. Hey failed to  mention they were cherry picking from the entire rest of the industry to compare against one company.  Similar claims could have been made against any of the companies they lumped together against Apple.  But here we are, with Apple not merely caught up to the entire rest of the industry, but beginning to pull ahead.  Will those same people give credit to this one company for having beat an entire industry?  Likely not, but credit is not what Apple seeks.  Apple seeks to delight its customers, and in the future their ability to do so will outpace the rest of the field.  

    "Beginning to pull ahead"??? I guess you are underestimating Apple's achievement here. Apple is already ahead of the rest of the industry, by about more than 1 year!!! What the benchmarks do NOT show is - the sustainable performance. If there are benchmarks created to show "sustainable performance", instead of just "peak performance", everyone will know how much Apple is ahead in the mobile SOCs.
    brakkenSolipatchythepiratejbdragonedredjony0Don.Andersenwatto_cobradamn_its_hot
  • Reply 8 of 54
    gerry ggerry g Posts: 22member
    San Fransisco was not an attempt at greater legibility but an an attempt to rationalise the vector point count of the font to make it run better on sub optimal systems with poor graphics (Apple Watch), if you work with vector images and bitmap images (a pro user) you will immediately grasp the truth of that. As to custom GPU's all that brute force the other operators have packed into the manufacturers of their product may seem wasteful compared to Apples more streamlined approach but it is precisely that brute force that pro users seek in their GPU's for day to day intensive tasks in their pro apps that non pro users never use. None this would remotely matter if Thunderbolt had parity of speed with with the systems mother board and could talk to the processor at that speed, then whatever smoke and mirrors Apple employed to give the illusion of extra speed would be circumventable  by the the pro user who would be free to choose from the free market whatever solution suited them best.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 54
    [1] Google keeps their handsets up to date. They even have Android O and 7.1.2 images for current handsets. They make it clear they do not support devices older than 2 years.

    [2] If you buy a device from another party, like Samsung, LG, etc. it is not Google's fault if they do not provide the updates. Or if the carrier is no longer doing updates. That is like the milk farmer complaining that the cupcake shop is using expired milk in their products.

    [3] Please have a look and see the MacOS breakdown figures. While Windows 10 might only be on 400 million devices, MacOS is just as fragmented as other operating systems. IOS has such a high upgrade rate because Apple forces you to roll up the new version. Your device might be fine, but do a restore and it gets updated. Other devices you can roll back to older versions if needed.

    [4] Just because Apple now has a font doesn't make them king of the GPU world now. What they have done is good, but the competition is just as good - and more focussed on a single product. You can't tell me the company that can't even make a Pro macbook is all of a sudden going to make a Pro GPU.
    williamlondonbrucemc
  • Reply 10 of 54
    copelandcopeland Posts: 298member
    lwio said:
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    Agreed for the pro market but the the consumer market rarely upgrades anything. An upgradable  Mac Pro and MacBook Pro is ideal.
    But that is not because upgrades are so difficult. It is that way because people have been told for 2 decades how dangerous and difficult these upgrades are.
    Now Apple (and the other companies are slowly following suit) use this "knowledge" to tie you further in by soldering und glueing everything in thus prohibiting you from doing any upgrades.
    You can't even repair these computers because of this. Now you have to buy a $300 extended warranty from Apple to replace a $50 part because you are locked out from your own device.

    Is anybody calculating this behavior in the carbon footprint of Apple - forcing to trash a viable product that could be in good use for another 3 years by an upgrade and forcing you to buy a complete new one with all the emissions tied to it for production? You can copy paste that to the other companies and possibly they are worse, but I would expect better from Apple. Especially for the desktops there are no technical reasons, its just for the money.
    xzubrucemc
  • Reply 11 of 54
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,268member
    gerry g said:
    San Fransisco was not an attempt at greater legibility but an an attempt to rationalise the vector point count of the font to make it run better on sub optimal systems with poor graphics (Apple Watch), if you work with vector images and bitmap images (a pro user) you will immediately grasp the truth of that. 
    The truth of that is reducing the number of anchor points on Bézier curves is the goal of all mainstream graphics applications, not limited to only "sub optimal systems with poor graphics". If you think that a drawing with millions of anchor points is a sign of superiority, then you have a poor grasp of the truth of that.
    edited April 2017 edredandrewj5790watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 54
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 794member
    Would Apple need to build a whole GPU or could they just build the render units they need to boost their own ARM core into an Application Processor?

    They built their own scheduler for the A10 and split tasks between a lite core and full core. Add graphics renderers that need special processors and use the cross over function to add another general core.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 54
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,623member
    [1] Google keeps their handsets up to date. They even have Android O and 7.1.2 images for current handsets. They make it clear they do not support devices older than 2 years.

    [2] If you buy a device from another party, like Samsung, LG, etc. it is not Google's fault if they do not provide the updates. Or if the carrier is no longer doing updates. That is like the milk farmer complaining that the cupcake shop is using expired milk in their products.

    [3] Please have a look and see the MacOS breakdown figures. While Windows 10 might only be on 400 million devices, MacOS is just as fragmented as other operating systems. IOS has such a high upgrade rate because Apple forces you to roll up the new version. Your device might be fine, but do a restore and it gets updated. Other devices you can roll back to older versions if needed.

    [4] Just because Apple now has a font doesn't make them king of the GPU world now. What they have done is good, but the competition is just as good - and more focussed on a single product. You can't tell me the company that can't even make a Pro macbook is all of a sudden going to make a Pro GPU.
    It is Google's god damn fault because of the way they set up the distribution of Android, their so called damn "open source" (sic)

    They don't give a hoot if the milks expired cause they made money from the milk anyway even if its sold unrefrigerated in the boondocks; that's the whole spiel.

    They can't claim the high ground after that. Forget about it.

    They're lucky the weakness of anti-trust in general these days haven't put them through the grinder for this crap.

    In the end, what's your point exactly. You have none. Just some low post shill for Google.



    MacPromejsrictmaymwhitenetmagepscooter63patchythepirateericthehalfbeewatto_cobraadm1
  • Reply 14 of 54
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,623member
    copeland said:
    lwio said:
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    Agreed for the pro market but the the consumer market rarely upgrades anything. An upgradable  Mac Pro and MacBook Pro is ideal.
    But that is not because upgrades are so difficult. It is that way because people have been told for 2 decades how dangerous and difficult these upgrades are.
    Now Apple (and the other companies are slowly following suit) use this "knowledge" to tie you further in by soldering und glueing everything in thus prohibiting you from doing any upgrades.
    You can't even repair these computers because of this. Now you have to buy a $300 extended warranty from Apple to replace a $50 part because you are locked out from your own device.

    Is anybody calculating this behavior in the carbon footprint of Apple - forcing to trash a viable product that could be in good use for another 3 years by an upgrade and forcing you to buy a complete new one with all the emissions tied to it for production? You can copy paste that to the other companies and possibly they are worse, but I would expect better from Apple. Especially for the desktops there are no technical reasons, its just for the money.
    If there were more profit (meaning an actual market), to be made from making those ultra upgradeable thing while not compromising on some other design point, someone would have done it already. The fact is that people are NOT ready to compromise on those other things, especially in a portable device.

    Most Apple devices don't end up in the trash until a long time has gone. Plenty of 4 and 4s are still in use as secondary players and these things have been beat up to death.

    And this has nothing with being soldered and glued, even TV's or washing machines these days are barely repairable with having to spend half the cost for them, which most times is not worth it.

    Some thing people conveniently forget is that those ultra repairable beasts of the past were in 2017 money, MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than whatever people are buying right now. My mother's 1967 washer-dryer set would cost $4000 dollars now... Not many people are spending this kind of money these days for this, same thing with TV sets, people routinely pad the equivalent of 2000 2007 dollars for a set.  My own 1987 computer was $12000 in 2017 money and it wasn't even at the top of the line.



    georgie01mrboba1netmagepscooter63andrewj5790StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 54
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,109member
    I think the moral of this story goes beyond the specifics and points to Apple solidifying and modernizing its base, its technical foundation.

    Despite appearances, technical leaps are all evolutionary rather than revolutionary.   Apple is looking to its future by building a strong, modern foundation for those leaps to happen.  Things its typical user will never see or even know about....

    While so many companies use tunnel vision to look at quarterly sales, I applaud Apple for looking at decades rather than mere quarters...   That is where sustainable success evolves from...
    kamiltonrandominternetpersonedredwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 54
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,175member
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    Apple sets the standards!
    shikotsumyakuRacerhomieXkamiltonDon.Andersenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 54
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,175member

    I think the moral of this story goes beyond the specifics and points to Apple solidifying and modernizing its base, its technical foundation.

    Despite appearances, technical leaps are all evolutionary rather than revolutionary.   Apple is looking to its future by building a strong, modern foundation for those leaps to happen.  Things its typical user will never see or even know about....

    While so many companies use tunnel vision to look at quarterly sales, I applaud Apple for looking at decades rather than mere quarters...   That is where sustainable success evolves from...
    Agreed and Apple never flinches at obsoleting one of its own products even if it is a major seller when the need to change direction is important to their future vision.  Most companies, if not all other companies, flog a dead horse to its last breath rather than change direction.  Microsoft being a prime example and outside the computer industry examples abound too, Kodak comes to mind!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 54
    FatmanFatman Posts: 126member
    Standards on the hardware side have kept Apple back -- Intel's delayed and slow processors, AMD and Nvidia's egg cooking GPUs; slow moving standards bodies like USB, Bluetooth, wireless & cell.  Apple now has the size and power to build CPUs, GPUs, and soon RAM, and various support chips to their more aspiring specifications - Yes! Being 'too standards compliant' for hardware removes the competitive advantage and commoditizes products.
    netmagerandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 54

    "Beginning to pull ahead"??? I guess you are underestimating Apple's achievement here. Apple is already ahead of the rest of the industry, by about more than 1 year!!! What the benchmarks do NOT show is - the sustainable performance. If there are benchmarks created to show "sustainable performance", instead of just "peak performance", everyone will know how much Apple is ahead in the mobile SOCs.
    If Apple is ahead (and many will say that they are not) then it is only in some areas. For example, the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S8 are pretty evenly matched when it comes to getting stuff done. the iPhone is streets ahead of the Galaxy in rendering Video. Samsung will want to correct that but will find it a struggle especially with their externally supplied SOC devices. But, they will catch up (eventually).

    However, for most people, all this performance stuff really does not matter. So what if GeekBench says that the S8 is 1% faster than the iPhone 7 in multi-core operations. They just won't care as long as it works.

    What they do care about and I see it becoming more important year on year and that is the price. I know a good few people who will just say 'nope not going there' when it comes to paying more than $1K (+ tax) for a phone. I'm one of them. I get my iPhone from places like pawn shops. There are enough vain people around who simply have to have the latest bit of bling. I picked up a hardly used iPhone 7 last week for 40% under Apple's retail price. Lots of them are being traded in as people switch to the S8/S8+.

    If incorporating their own GPU can give not only a speed boost but help keep the price below that all important $1K mark while retaining their margins then good, go for it.


    brucemc
  • Reply 20 of 54
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,230member
    appex said:
    Apple should use standards in the market. Not only ports and connectors, but also unsoldered microprocessors, RAM, SSD, GPU, etc. Otherwise may work in the short term, but not in the long one. Remember the PowerPC fiasco.
    Except its not 1999 anymore...nobody really gives a shit about changing their own CPU. Most just want to use the damn thing, not tinker around with the insides of it. Even Pro's I bet would rather do work with their Mac, not worry about changing RAM, CPU's, etc. A smart Pro would buy what they think they'll need in the future so it will last many years. When it the time comes where they think their Mac isn't sufficient enough they'll just buy a new one. 

    You're the only one here who continuously spouts out this crap in every post. It ain't gonna happen so give it up! If you don't like it, then go buy something else that lets you change things out. 
    mike1netmagepscooter63andrewj5790StrangeDaysraoulduke42watto_cobra
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