Compared: Apple's Developer Transition Kit versus Mac mini

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 2020
Apple revealed it would help developers producing macOS software that will run on Apple's silicon by providing them with a Developer Transition Kit, a customized version of the Mac mini running on new hardware. We look at how it stacks up against the currently-offered Mac mini.

The current-generation Mac mini.
The current-generation Mac mini.


During the WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple confirmed it was going to shift over to Apple Silicon. Though not immediate, Apple does have an aggressive timeline for the shift away from Intel processors, with the first Macs using Apple Silicon expected before the end of 2020, and a complete move over to Apple-designed ARM-based chips within two years.

To help facilitate the changeover, Apple is using technologies like Rosetta 2 to allow existing apps designed for use on Intel processors to run on ARM-based chips, like the ones Apple designs.

Furthermore, developers are also able to apply to receive the Developer Transition Kit, effectively a Mac mini that uses the system-on-chip used in the iPad Pro. Apple intends the Developer Transition Kit to be a way for developers to test out code on hardware similar to what will be ultimately provided to consumers.

Given that Apple is offering the Developer Transition Kit in a Mac mini enclosure, we're comparing it to the current-generation Mac mini. We are also comparing it with a Mac mini with the fastest processor and comparable amounts of memory and storage.

Specifications

Developer Transition KitMac mini (Core i3)Mac mini (Core i7, 16GB)
Starting Price$500$799
$1,499
Dimensions (inches)7.7 x 7.7 x 1.47.7 x 7.7 x 1.47.7 x 7.7 x 1.4
Weight (pounds)Unknown2.92.9
ProcessorApple A12Z Bionic8th-generation 3.6GHz 4-core Intel Core i3
8th-generation 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7
8th-generation 3.2Ghz 6-core Intel Core i7
Graphics- Intel UHD Graphics 630Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM16GB8GB 2,666MHz DDR4,
Configurable to 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
16GB 2,666MHz DDR4
Storage512GB SSD256GB SSD,
Configurable to 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
512GB SSD
Ports2 USB-C ports
2 USB 3 ports
HDMI 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
2 USB 3 ports
Gigabit Ethernet (10Gb capable)
HDMI 2.0
3.5mm headphone jack
4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
2 USB 3 ports
Gigabit Ethernet (10Gb capable)
HDMI 2.0
3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless Connectivity802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
AudioUnknownBuilt-in speaker,
HDMI 2.0 multichannel audio,
3.5mm headphone jack
Built-in speaker,
HDMI 2.0 multichannel audio,
3.5mm headphone jack

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - External appearance

The Mac mini enclosure is produced from recycled aluminum, and measures 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thick, making it compact and having a very low profile for a computer. Apple also arranges all of the ports to the rear of the Mac mini, giving it a tidy and streamlined appearance.

Apple advised during the announcement that the Developer Transition Kit would be supplied inside a Mac mini enclosure, so it will have the same dimensions and footprint. Aside from having different ports on the back, there probably won't be any external clues that it is containing unusual hardware.

The Mac mini enclosure is being reused for the Developer Transition Kit
The Mac mini enclosure is being reused for the Developer Transition Kit


While it may appear to be the same on the outside, one thing that will probably change a bit is the weight, again due to the use of different hardware to production models. The current Mac mini weighs in at 2.9 pounds, largely made up by the enclosure, and so the Developer Transition Kit should be in the same ballpark.

Of course, as a desktop-bound Mac, this isn't much of a concern.

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - Processors

The current Mac mini is offered with a selection of three processors, but we will be concerned about two -- the entry-level option and the high-end alternative.

At the base end of the spectrum is the 8th-generation Intel Core i3-8100B, which is a quad-core chip clocked at 3.6GHz. Unusually for a Mac, the processor doesn't include support for Turbo Boost or Hyperthreading, which limits its performance somewhat.

The higher-end Core i7-8700B does support Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading, which means its six cores can generate 12 threads, while its base 3.2GHz clock speed can be raised to 4.6GHz at most.

Apple's A12Z, as used in the 2020 iPad Pro, is an 8-core chip with a maximum clock speed of 2.49GHz. It is also in between the two Intel chips in terms of cache, bearing 8MB while the Core i3 uses 6MB and the Core i7 equipped with 12MB.

A WWDC slide showing the benefits of Apple Silicon.
A WWDC slide showing the benefits of Apple Silicon.


In terms of performance, the Geekbench 5 benchmark lists the Core i3 at 949 for single-core tests and 3,197 for multi-core, and the Core i7 at 1,205 and 6,024 for single and multi-core scores respectively. Benchmarks for the A12Z Bionic in the iPad Pro put it at 1,118 points for single-core tests, and 4,625 for multi-core, again putting it between the two extremes of the Mac mini's processors.

The benchmarks for the A12Z are, however, slightly skewed by the fact that it's based on iPad Pro benchmarks, and so it has to deal with a wildly different thermal situation than a Mac mini.

Due to the thin design of the iPad Pro, the A12Z has to operate with a low thermal ceiling. As there's no fan or thermal dissipation system in an iPad beyond the aluminum enclosure, the heat generated by the chip has to be mostly managed by processor speed.

The Mac mini is not subject to the same design constraints as an iPad, and has a fan installed. It also benefits from having a larger thermal mass, so there is more opportunity for the processor to operate at a higher temperature and take on bigger loads.

There are two scenarios for higher performance for the A12Z in a Mac mini enclosure. First, the A12Z in the iPad Pro could be thermally constrained, and even without a fan, it could perform better with the larger enclosure. Additionally, it's plausible that the A12Z could be clocked higher by Apple versus the iPad Pro when given more active cooling, which could lead to higher benchmark scores.

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - Memory

The Mac mini's base model includes 8GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 memory, which can be configured to 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. While Apple implies it isn't upgradable, it is possible to replace the memory with new modules.

Apple's Developer Transition Kit will have 16GB of memory, but it hasn't yet stated what kind or speed. Given the nature of the Developer Transition Kit, it is highly unlikely that there will be upgradability options.

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - Graphics

The Mac mini utilizes the integrated graphics offered by the processors, namely Intel UHD Graphics 630. Apple doesn't state whether there's any change to the graphics processing in the Developer Transition Kit, but it is probable that the A12Z Bionic's GPU will be employed.

Geekbench Metal benchmarks indicate Intel UHD Graphics 630 scores 3,771, while the A12Z's Apple-designed 8-core GPU offers a considerably better score of 9,558 in benchmarks.

With the addition of better thermal management, the graphical performance of the A12Z processor could offer even more performance for graphical tasks, for reasons we've already discussed.

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - Storage

Apple includes 256GB SSD of flash storage its lowest-specification Mac mini, with upgrade options bringing it up to 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB. There is no opportunity to upgrade following a purchase, which means users are stuck with what they get from the start of ownership, short of buying a new model. Speeds vary depending on size, with better performance with the larger drives.

The Developer Transition Kit is equipped with a 512GB SSD of indeterminate speed. There's no option to configure to a different size, while again after-market upgrades are probably not going to be available, though this isn't necessarily a problem given the general nature of the device.

Mac mini versus Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit - Upgradability

While in previous generations it was possible to switch out the storage for higher capacities or faster versions, such as from a hard drive to an SSD, there is no option to do so with the current generation. You can, however, upgrade the RAM.

The memory can be upgraded in the Mac mini.
The memory can be upgraded in the Mac mini.


There is always the capability of taking advantage of the high-bandwidth Thunderbolt 3 ports for external upgrades, such as using an eGPU enclosure for better graphics or the use of a portable hard drive.

Apple has revealed nothing about any sort of upgradability options for the Developer Transition Kit. Given that Apple isn't even giving any alternative capacities for memory or storage, it seems extremely doubtful that there will be any tinkering potential in the hardware once it ships.

Bear in mind that it is also plausible that the Developer Transition Kit may not appear to be anything like the final shipping Apple Silicon Mac mini, if Apple goes down the route. For the transition kit used for when Apple moved to Intel, it effectively provided developers with a Pentium motherboard inside a G5 case.

Until Apple actually starts to ship the Developer Transition Kit, it is completely unknown as to what options will be available, but it is unlikely to be that close to final production hardware, if at all.

Mac mini versus Developer Transition Kit - Other specifications

In terms of wireless networking, the Developer Transition Kit and Mac mini have the same 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 support. Both also have gigabit ethernet, though the Mac mini can be configured to use 10-gigabit ethernet.

On the rear of the Mac mini are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, whereas the Developer Transition Kit uses two 10 gigabit per second USB 3.2 type C ports, echoing its iPad Pro origins. This will mean the Developer Transition Kit won't support Thunderbolt 3 devices at all, which may be an issue for some developers working on external hardware.

Apple continues to include HDMI 2.0 and two USB-A ports on the rear for the Developer Transition Kit, equal to that of the Mac mini.

There is no word on what audio will be available on the Developer Transition Kit, but it is likely to be similar to the Mac mini in having an internal speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and external speaker support via HDMI 2.0.

Mac mini versus Developer Transition Kit - Price And ownership

The base level Mac mini, with the Core i3 processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, and Gigabit Ethernet is priced at $799. Opting for the fastest Core i7 processor and having comparable memory and storage to the Developer Transition Kit at 16GB and 512GB respectively brings the Mac mini cost up to $1,499.

Apple has said that the Developer Transition Kit will cost $500. While this seems like the Developer Transition Kit is an amazing deal, there are quite a few catches to take into account.

For a start, you have to be an active member of the Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 per year to be a part of, or $299 for the enterprise version.

In exchange for your $500, which gets you into the Universal App Quick Start Program, you gain not only exclusive access to the Developer Transition Kit, but also to beta software and tools needed to create Universal apps for Apple Silicon Macs, developer labs, private forums, development resources, and technical support.

Furthermore, you have to apply to Apple to take part in the Universal App Quick Start Program. You have to be based on one of a number of countries to be eligible, and be able to provide a brief application to Apple.

The Universal App Quick Start Program's description reveals you have to return the DTK.
The Universal App Quick Start Program's description reveals you have to return the DTK.


As availability is limited, Apple is also going to give priority to applicants with an existing macOS application.

Lastly, unlike the Mac mini you can buy from the online Apple Store or via retailers, you don't actually own the Developer Transition Kit. Apple explicitly states "The DTK is owned by Apple and must be returned," which means you are paying for a limited period of access, not ownership.

If you're not a developer, don't try to get an Apple Silicon Developer Transition Kit

At face value, the Developer Transition Kit is somewhat similar to a Mac mini in a large number of respects. Performance-wise, it's in the middle of the processor range, but excels at graphics processing.

The amount of memory is also adequate for the majority of normal macOS usage, and while storage isn't something to write home about, it is OK.

The key here is that the Developer Transition Kit is not really a Mac mini replacement. The whole point of the device is to enable developers to get a head start in making applications for the next generation of Macs and macOS Big Sur, by having hardware that's somewhat similar to what will ship on-hand.

Having access to that sort of hardware is essential for developers of major applications, as it can ensure that what they design and develop will actually appear as intended on Apple Silicon desktops. The lack of hardware configuration options isn't an issue here, as its intended purpose is not about performance, but app functionality.

The question of ownership is also a non-starter, as $500 for early access to developmental hardware is a very small price to pay for a seasoned developer. By the time they have to hand it back to Apple, it is almost certain that Apple will have released its first Apple Silicon devices on the market, so there will be no real sense of loss.

A consumer has no business getting hold of a Developer Transition Kit at all. Bragging rights for using the next-generation Mac processor will only go so far, and the hiccups and having to return it in the future doesn't make it any more attractive from a consumer standpoint.

It's designed for developers, and is meant purely for developers. Consumers should stand by until Apple actually ships consumer hardware, possibly even the rumored 24-inch iMac.

Given Apple's schedule, they won't have very long to wait.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,454member
    I am most interested in the disappearance of Thunderbolt 3 in the Transition Kit. Quick and dirty to get it the hands of developers or a sign that it is going away?
    bsbeamershaminocaladanianjony0
  • Reply 2 of 55
    red oakred oak Posts: 886member
    I would not be surprised at all (and even expect) Apple will speed up thIs A12 dev unit so it surpasses anything Mac mini shipping with Intel

    Just to make a point and to get developers excited about the raw performance benefits to come 

    Can’t wait to see the Geekbench 
    williamlondoncaladanianwatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 3 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.
    edited June 2020 bsbeamerelijahgrazorpitHi.Jackcaladanianchiamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 55
    ednlednl Posts: 61member
    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.

    They could skip to USB4 which can do Thunderbolt anyway.
    williamlondondarren mccoycaladanianjony0watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 5 of 55
    Fidonet127Fidonet127 Posts: 269member
    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.
    There is no logic for Apple not getting Thunderbolt on public ARM MACs. Likely it will be the USB4 variant, due to thunderbolt being part of the USB4 spec and cheaper for everyone to use.
    williamlondoncaladanianMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 55
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member

    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.
    Isn't USB also an Intel product? Isn't USB-4 supposed to merge USB and Thunderbolt? What about Thunderbolt wouldn't be covered by USB-4? I know right now they're both using the USB-C port but also that there are technical differences between the two. 

    As for not including Thunderbolt right now, I don't see that as being that big of a deal except for those developers who want to access their large TB disk arrays for testing. I'm sure Apple will be upset if/when a developer decides to open one of the test Minis and shows a kludged together iPad motherboard with external RAM and SSD. Maybe Apple actually built a "real" Apple Silicon (is this what we're going to call the new line of Macs?) Mac mini motherboard without anyone actually knowing about it. I haven't seen any rumors about an AS mini (better?) popping up on the web so either it's a totally internal breadboard build or Apple was actually able to get the manufacturer to keep their damn mouths shut this time. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 55
    hattighattig Posts: 858member
    The memory is most likely surface mounted LPDDR4X. The GPU would suffer otherwise.

    I expect the A14Z (or whatever they call the Mac Apple Silicon) to utilise LPDDR5 and not be upgradeable in the slimmer form factors.

    Early devices might use LPDDR4X still. These memory controllers usually get slower DDR support as well, so DDR4 for the expandable devices (DDR5 when that becomes available - later than LPDDR5). I don't think HBM will be used in the first generation, but if Apple ever go large on the integrated GPU this may be their only option when that happens.

    It'll almost certainly integrate USB4 for Thunderbolt functionality. If not, they'll dedicate some PCIe lanes for an external Intel thunderbolt controller. It's possible Apple will split the chip into an I/O die and the compute die, but on the same package.

    PCIe will have to be included, it'll have to be PCIe4, and I would expect 4x for SSD and 8x/16x for discrete GPU (for devices that need more than what the Apple GPU can do internally), and maybe another 4x for other devices/storage.

    There's a good chance that it'll be an ARMv9 ISA, but not 100% - but certainly by the time the Mac Pro migrates.
    williamlondonrazorpitrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,311member
    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.
    Let's hope it truly is due to time constraints or perhaps to keep the cost down rather than TB going away due to licensing, or maybe due to a percentage of users using it that Apple isn't happy with. Seems a bit strange not to have it from a development point of view though - anyone developing low-level TB drivers for ARM "Apple Silicon" macOS would very much like to get a head start I'm sure, and probably some clarity as to whether their products are going to be obsolete due to TB going away.
    williamlondonrazorpit
  • Reply 9 of 55
    shaminoshamino Posts: 480member
    I wonder if iFixit will be able to get one of these?  Apple doesn't normally take kindly to pre-release stuff being taken apart.  They were very upset the last time iFixit did that (sorry, I can't find the link right now), but I'd still love to see it.
    edited June 2020 williamlondoncaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,311member

    hattig said:
    The memory is most likely surface mounted LPDDR4X. The GPU would suffer otherwise.

    I expect the A14Z (or whatever they call the Mac Apple Silicon) to utilise LPDDR5 and not be upgradeable in the slimmer form factors.

    Early devices might use LPDDR4X still. These memory controllers usually get slower DDR support as well, so DDR4 for the expandable devices (DDR5 when that becomes available - later than LPDDR5). I don't think HBM will be used in the first generation, but if Apple ever go large on the integrated GPU this may be their only option when that happens.

    It'll almost certainly integrate USB4 for Thunderbolt functionality. If not, they'll dedicate some PCIe lanes for an external Intel thunderbolt controller. It's possible Apple will split the chip into an I/O die and the compute die, but on the same package.

    PCIe will have to be included, it'll have to be PCIe4, and I would expect 4x for SSD and 8x/16x for discrete GPU (for devices that need more than what the Apple GPU can do internally), and maybe another 4x for other devices/storage.

    There's a good chance that it'll be an ARMv9 ISA, but not 100% - but certainly by the time the Mac Pro migrates.
    It doesn't really "have" to be PCIe at all, Apple could interface with their own SSD controller which doesn't have to be PCIe, have their own USB controller etc. No one knows about the GPUs either, they may end up abandoning AMD GPUs in favour of their own too, which again means no tie to PCIe. I wouldn't be surprised if they move away from PCIe eventually, since it's a cross-platform technology they don't control and they don't like compatibility things they don't control. Would also tie people into buying Apple's SSD upgrades and another justification to them soldering the NAND directly on.

    They are taking on a lot of risk with this switch. They are assuming they can always keep ahead of the competition. AMD are steaming along right now even if Intel aren't - and if Apple can't keep up, it will be very embarrassing and even more so if there's an eventual switch from Apple Silicon to AMD (or back to Intel).
    edited June 2020 williamlondonrazorpit
  • Reply 11 of 55
    elijahg said:
    They are taking on a lot of risk with this switch. They are assuming they can always keep ahead of the competition. AMD are steaming along right now even if Intel aren't - and if Apple can't keep up, it will be very embarrassing and even more so if there's an eventual switch from Apple Silicon to AMD (or back to Intel).
    I'm sure they never analysed or considered "the risk." [rolls eyes]
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 55
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    elijahg said:

    hattig said:
    The memory is most likely surface mounted LPDDR4X. The GPU would suffer otherwise.

    I expect the A14Z (or whatever they call the Mac Apple Silicon) to utilise LPDDR5 and not be upgradeable in the slimmer form factors.

    Early devices might use LPDDR4X still. These memory controllers usually get slower DDR support as well, so DDR4 for the expandable devices (DDR5 when that becomes available - later than LPDDR5). I don't think HBM will be used in the first generation, but if Apple ever go large on the integrated GPU this may be their only option when that happens.

    It'll almost certainly integrate USB4 for Thunderbolt functionality. If not, they'll dedicate some PCIe lanes for an external Intel thunderbolt controller. It's possible Apple will split the chip into an I/O die and the compute die, but on the same package.

    PCIe will have to be included, it'll have to be PCIe4, and I would expect 4x for SSD and 8x/16x for discrete GPU (for devices that need more than what the Apple GPU can do internally), and maybe another 4x for other devices/storage.

    There's a good chance that it'll be an ARMv9 ISA, but not 100% - but certainly by the time the Mac Pro migrates.
    They are taking on a lot of risk with this switch. They are assuming they can always keep ahead of the competition. AMD are steaming along right now even if Intel aren't - and if Apple can't keep up, it will be very embarrassing and even more so if there's an eventual switch from Apple Silicon to AMD (or back to Intel).
    You are right, they are, but at the same time don't forget Apple has been working on this since the very first iPhone. In fact I'd be willing to bet that before the Intel guy was on stage at WWDC '06, Apple had a road map leading up to yesterday.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 55
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,328member
    elijahg said:

    I wouldn't be surprised if they move away from PCIe eventually, since it's a cross-platform technology they don't control and they don't like compatibility things they don't control.
    Apple likes to move fast on things.  As well as be able to take them in new directions which give them a competitive advantage.  If you have to run all your ideas by a standards committee, you lose both of those.  I'm personally pretty excited to see what Apple can do now that they'll be free to take things in any direction they can think of.

    They are taking on a lot of risk with this switch. They are assuming they can always keep ahead of the competition. AMD are steaming along right now even if Intel aren't - and if Apple can't keep up, it will be very embarrassing and even more so if there's an eventual switch from Apple Silicon to AMD (or back to Intel).
    I had a good laugh when I read this.  I guess if you ignore the past decade of incredible advancements they've made with their SoCs on iPhone/iPad/Watch.

    This attitude is very reminiscent of Blackberry circa 2011, and we all know how that worked out :D
    edited June 2020 williamlondonwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 14 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    ednl said:
    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.

    They could skip to USB4 which can do Thunderbolt anyway.
    USB 4 doesn’t not automatically do thunderbolt. That’s a misunderstanding that a few writers have confused people about.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 15 of 55
    Planning to get one but one thing concerns me: How long will Apple support this device with future MacOS updates? I would like to use it as a Plex server after I am done using it but if Apple drops OS support after a year, that would suck.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member

    melgross said:
    You see, it’s the lack of thunderbolt that’s worries me. I know some will say that it’s “just” a developer machine. But that doesn’t explain it. Thunderbolt is part of the PCIe bus. But it’s also an Intel product. It’s the same problem we have with the iPad Pro not having it. I’m sure that I’m not the only iPad Pro user that badly wants this.

    if Apple can’t get thunderbolt on ARM Macs, that will be a big problem.
    There is no logic for Apple not getting Thunderbolt on public ARM MACs. Likely it will be the USB4 variant, due to thunderbolt being part of the USB4 spec and cheaper for everyone to use.
    There are TB controllers that only work with x86. Intel is also going to put it directly into their x86 chips, so no controller needed. But that doesn’t help ARM in the slightest. USB 4 doesn’t resolve the issue.
    elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    I’m linking to Tom’s Hardware explanation of USB 4. Everything they say here remains true. I hope this clears up the nonsense that USB 4 contained TB 3. As ive said before, it’s much more nuanced than that.

    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/usb-4-faq,38766.html

    now, Pocketlint, a website, came up with a later article, which happens to be wrong (they get a lot of things wrong), which states incorrectly, that all USB4 machines will automatically have TB 3. They may, and they may not.

    interestedly, we don’t know yet if ARM based devices will even have USB4. Supposedly they can. But TB is still an x86 implementation. Will Intel bring it to ARM? Maybe, maybe not.
    macpluspluselijahg
  • Reply 18 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,311member
    razorpit said:
    elijahg said:

    hattig said:
    The memory is most likely surface mounted LPDDR4X. The GPU would suffer otherwise.

    I expect the A14Z (or whatever they call the Mac Apple Silicon) to utilise LPDDR5 and not be upgradeable in the slimmer form factors.

    Early devices might use LPDDR4X still. These memory controllers usually get slower DDR support as well, so DDR4 for the expandable devices (DDR5 when that becomes available - later than LPDDR5). I don't think HBM will be used in the first generation, but if Apple ever go large on the integrated GPU this may be their only option when that happens.

    It'll almost certainly integrate USB4 for Thunderbolt functionality. If not, they'll dedicate some PCIe lanes for an external Intel thunderbolt controller. It's possible Apple will split the chip into an I/O die and the compute die, but on the same package.

    PCIe will have to be included, it'll have to be PCIe4, and I would expect 4x for SSD and 8x/16x for discrete GPU (for devices that need more than what the Apple GPU can do internally), and maybe another 4x for other devices/storage.

    There's a good chance that it'll be an ARMv9 ISA, but not 100% - but certainly by the time the Mac Pro migrates.
    They are taking on a lot of risk with this switch. They are assuming they can always keep ahead of the competition. AMD are steaming along right now even if Intel aren't - and if Apple can't keep up, it will be very embarrassing and even more so if there's an eventual switch from Apple Silicon to AMD (or back to Intel).
    You are right, they are, but at the same time don't forget Apple has been working on this since the very first iPhone. In fact I'd be willing to bet that before the Intel guy was on stage at WWDC '06, Apple had a road map leading up to yesterday.
    I very much agree. I don't doubt that they'll keep macOS running on Intel and probably other architectures long after support is publicly dropped, just in case.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,081member
    Planning to get one but one thing concerns me: How long will Apple support this device with future MacOS updates? I would like to use it as a Plex server after I am done using it but if Apple drops OS support after a year, that would suck.
    When you are done using it you return it to Apple.

    "Apple explicitly states "The DTK is owned by Apple and must be returned," which means you are paying for a limited period of access, not ownership."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 55
    Planning to get one but one thing concerns me: How long will Apple support this device with future MacOS updates? I would like to use it as a Plex server after I am done using it but if Apple drops OS support after a year, that would suck.
    I think the bigger issue is that you have to give the hardware back. You're not buying a new Mac for $500; you're paying $500 to borrow development hardware.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
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