Apple targets thermal performance issues on 2018 MacBook Pros with software update

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 27
Performance issues affecting Apple's latest 2018 MacBook Pros discovered over the past week have been identified as a software flaw in the system's thermal management software, and Apple is rolling out a macOS patch to deal with the problem.




"Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we've identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro," noted an Apple spokesperson. "A bug fix is included in today's macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended."

"We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems," Apple added. "Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70 percent faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to [two times] faster, as shown in the performance results on our website."

The macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update is billed as a "stability and reliability" update, and is recommended for all users, including both 13-inch and 15-inch models with Touch Bar, incorporating Intel's 8th Generation "Coffee Lake" Core i5, i7 or i9 processors. New MacBook Pro users will need to manually select and install the update from the Mac App Store.

Apple's initial performance claims for the new MacBook Pro models did not appear to reflect any impact from the bug. The problem was reported by YouTube videographer Dave Lee last Tuesday, and confirmed in testing done by AppleInsider.

It was initially suspected to affect new models with a Core i9 chip, likely because that model is clocked highest and can be driven to a higher temperature fastest. For many users, the problem didn't show up at all.

Despite widespread assumptions that Apple had failed to design adequate cooling for the new generation of Intel processors, or was even intentionally throttling the performance of its new Pro gear to prevent overheating, the real issue was simply a software error that only revealed itself in specific, heavy and sustained workloads.

Without the fix, the new machines could turn in benchmark results that were worse than the previous models they replaced, unless the machines are externally cooled beyond what the Apple-engineered solution could provide.

After installing the fix, the new machines should consistently reflect Apple's originally published performance specifications, which presents the latest generation of Intel processors running significantly faster than the models they replaced. AppleInsider will continue testing the matter.
Alex1N
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    2old4fun2old4fun Posts: 196member
    Once again, tempest in a teapot.
    foregoneconclusionwlymcaladanianronndavenrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 43
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,179member
    Curious if this fix is related to the VRM topic discussed elsewhere. 
    ascii
  • Reply 3 of 43
    nunzynunzy Posts: 520member
     Apple did it again. The new Macbook is now better than ever.
    dws-2ronnmagman1979MisterKitchasmrepressthis
  • Reply 4 of 43
    backstabbackstab Posts: 51member
    "Free" software update. Wow. That's unusual.  ;)
    Now can all the little whiney bees go change their diapers?
    rezwitsronnmagman1979repressthisAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 43
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,300member
    It’s a good thing they came out with this software fix but it does show a short coming in their QC.   Looking forward to how this works out.

    I listened to the Cult Of Mac podcast “CultCast” where the guest called the whole MBP program a SCAM.   I could only imagine DED ‘s head blowing up at that.

  • Reply 6 of 43
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,926member
    backstab said:
    "Free" software update. Wow. That's unusual.  ;)
    Now can all the little whiney bees go change their diapers?

    Well, no, of course not; because there's still the keyboard to whine about, along with the lack of a parallel printer port, and the warp engine is still missing in action.

    But I am curious: this problem was discovered during a performance test with FCPX. I'd always assumed Apple had a copy of that lying around somewhere … Should they have spotted this during their own testing?

    edited July 24 tmayking editor the grateracerhomie3magman1979StrangeDaysfastasleeprepressthisAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 43
    backstab said:
    "Free" software update. Wow. That's unusual.  ;)
    Now can all the little whiney bees go change their diapers?
    Fat Chance. They will always find something else to whine/complain/rant/sue over when it comes to Apple.
    rezwitsronnmagman1979Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 43
    This is interesting to hear, especially after all the “YouTube opportunists” came to the conclusion that it wasn’t thermal throttling at all, but was in fact an Apple design issue in which they were sloppy in their implementation of supplying the correct amount of voltage to the CPU to keep it from needing to throttle. Glad Apple quickly resolved this. 

    Many of you may have seen this but in case you hadn’t here is the summation. 

    In my opinion, Apple seriously screwed up here. The testing that I did was easily within Apple's capabilities, and it is highly irresponsible of them to ship these machines out this way. As far as I am aware, the MSR is set to the intel's default ... and clearly Intel expects that if you are going to use this default, you will have a machine capable of delivering 100 Watts of power steady state. Intel does not expect that you must have thermal capabilities of shedding those 100 Watts, as the chip will thermally throttle if it reaches TJunction (100C), and that thermal throttling would not be nearly as painful as this type of VRM throttling. Most likely, if Apple wanted to handle things that way, they could have figured out a way to attach the heatpipe to the VRM. Even if they did not want to handle things that way, they should have reduced the MSR value from the factory to something that the VRM is actually capable of delivering (ie: My settings).”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookpro/comments/91256u/optimal_cpu_tuning_settings_for_i9_mbp_to_stop/
    ronn
  • Reply 9 of 43
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,926member
    Just want to make something clear.

    In my last post, I said "should"

    I misspoke.

    I meant to say, "shouldn't"

    The sentence should have read:

    But I am curious: this problem was discovered during a performance test with FCPX. I'd always assumed Apple had a copy of that lying around somewhere … Shouldn't they have spotted this during their own testing?
    [I think I just about got away with that…]
    backstabking editor the grateappledapplecommand_fspace2001fastasleepchasmAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 43
    jorgiejorgie Posts: 30member
    backstab said:
    "Free" software update. Wow. That's unusual.  ;)
    Now can all the little whiney bees go change their diapers?
    Withing the whining, who knows when they would have fixed it. (That is assuming this actually fixes it.)
    edited July 24 atomic101
  • Reply 11 of 43
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,756member
    k2kw said:
    It’s a good thing they came out with this software fix but it does show a short coming in their QC.


    It is impossible for any company to test any and every possible case to ensure 100% error free operation. This was a bug that only showed up under very specific circumstances.

    loopinsight.com:
    The company said that you needed the right combination of workloads for the bug to manifest itself and in all of their testing, they never encountered the problem.

    In fact, many people using the MacBook Pro probably wouldn’t have seen the bug manifest itself at all because they didn’t have that perfect storm of extended heavy workloads to make it happen.


    ronnpscooter63StrangeDaysrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 43
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,995member
    What are alll of the Apple is too obsessed with thin and light whiners going to do now?
    tmayracerhomie3suddenly newtonRayz2016
  • Reply 13 of 43
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,479member
    Now what we going to complain about 2018 Macbook Pro ? Well, one big complain still out there is 13" Function keys MBP not yet updated like it's counterpart with TouchBar..
  • Reply 14 of 43
    tipootipoo Posts: 907member
    I'm wondering if "missing digital key" is PR speak for a similar tweak as some members found, around max power states and VRM temperatures. By tamping down the max state they had much better sustained performance.
    atomic101
  • Reply 15 of 43
    vadimyuryevvadimyuryev Posts: 134member, editor
    wood1208 said:
    Now what we going to complain about 2018 Macbook Pro ? Well, one big complain still out there is 13" Function keys MBP not yet updated like it's counterpart with TouchBar..
    That's still technically the 2017 MacBook Pro. Sorry to steal your thunder. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 43
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 181member
    Very happy news. I just need to wait for confirmation of this.

    Oddly, I don't think people realize what a great update this is. The speed alone is great, but there really is a lot packed into this.

    First, I don't think people appreciate the security aspect. This computer is almost as locked down as an iPhone now, so if I lose it, I no longer have to worry about anyone getting my business or personal data. That alone is worth a lot to me.

    Second, true tone is really nice for someone who stares at a computer screen for 8 hours a day.

    Third, the RAM!!! 32 GB makes running virtual  machines much better, and the two extra processors don't hurt, either.

    The last big thing is the keyboard, but that's still uncertain. I'm seriously thinking of updating from a 2016 MBP with touch bar, but I'm waiting to see how well the keyboard seems to be standing up. The keyboard on that 2016 drove me crazy until the second replacement.

    In short, with the possible exception of the keyboard, this is a very, very nice laptop.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    So... the problem was bios related that was fixed by an os patch, correct?

    What about the people running Windows on their MacBook Pro?
  • Reply 18 of 43
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,108administrator
    So... the problem was bios related that was fixed by an os patch, correct?

    What about the people running Windows on their MacBook Pro?
    An OS patch can apply firmware tweaks, and often does. These would apply in BootCamp too.
    pscooter63cgWerksAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 43
    vadimyuryevvadimyuryev Posts: 134member, editor
    dws-2 said:
    Very happy news. I just need to wait for confirmation of this.

    Oddly, I don't think people realize what a great update this is. The speed alone is great, but there really is a lot packed into this.

    First, I don't think people appreciate the security aspect. This computer is almost as locked down as an iPhone now, so if I lose it, I no longer have to worry about anyone getting my business or personal data. That alone is worth a lot to me.

    Second, true tone is really nice for someone who stares at a computer screen for 8 hours a day.

    Third, the RAM!!! 32 GB makes running virtual  machines much better, and the two extra processors don't hurt, either.

    The last big thing is the keyboard, but that's still uncertain. I'm seriously thinking of updating from a 2016 MBP with touch bar, but I'm waiting to see how well the keyboard seems to be standing up. The keyboard on that 2016 drove me crazy until the second replacement.

    In short, with the possible exception of the keyboard, this is a very, very nice laptop.
    I've confirmed that FileVault encryption on the 2018 MacBook Pro has no effect whatsoever on SSD performance, thanks to the T2 chip. 
    Exactly the same speeds with encryption on or off, even shortly after turning encryption on.

    The 2017 model, on the other hand, took about 20 hours to encrypt the drive, with available speeds of 1300 read and write during encryption.
    With FileVault off, we saw 2000 MB/s write and 2700 read for the 512GB model. 
    After FileVault encryption completed, read speeds dropped down to 2150MB/s. 

    2018 MacBook Pro storage speed is completely unaffected by FileVault. (1150 write speed and 2500 read speed on 256GB SSD)
    tmaypolymniabackstabemoellersphericfastasleepRayz2016Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 43
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,300member
    jorgie said:
    backstab said:
    "Free" software update. Wow. That's unusual.  ;)
    Now can all the little whiney bees go change their diapers?
    Withing the whining, who knows when they would have fixed it. (That is assuming this actually fixes it.)
    Without all the YouTube attention that this got I’m sure Apple would have acknowledged the problem... in 2 or 3 years like with the keyboards.
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