macOS 11.4 adds support for AMD 'Big Navi' 6800, 6800XT, 6900XT

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited April 21
Apple released the first developer beta of macOS 11.4 with the ability for Intel-based Macs to connect to GPUs that use AMD Navi RDNA2 architecture.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT will soon be compatible with Mac
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT will soon be compatible with Mac


Apple supports very few GPUs on the market and notably only the Mac Pro has PCIe slots for easy graphics card installation. Intel-based MacBooks with Thunderbolt 3 ports can run an external Thunderbolt enclosure with GPUs as well, referred to as eGPU.

On Wednesday, Apple released the first beta version of macOS 11.4 and cited support for three new GPUs from AMD in the release notes. The GPUs listed run on the AMD Navi RDNA2 architecture and are the 6800, 6800XT and 6900XT series.

The Navi RDNA2 architecture is notable for being used in the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. It is a powerful system that delivers up to 65% more performance per watt over the first generation architecture.

The new GPUs enable next-generation gaming features like ray tracing and faster rendering times. Using these GPUs will speed up your graphics workflows or improve your gaming, even on Mac.

Apple hasn't enabled GPU support for its latest M1-based Macs and may not be able to. Future M-series processors may allow for eGPU support but there hasn't been any indication of a timeline for such a feature. For now, only Intel-based Macs with Thunderbolt 3 can use eGPUs.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 650member
    Does it really matter? Intel Mac will be gone within a year.

    both AMD and Apple do really poor job of adding support and driver for Mac. But given how little sales it can generate, no one should be surprised.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    HrebHreb Posts: 8member
    viclauyyc said:
    Does it really matter? Intel Mac will be gone within a year.

    So far, m1 GPU performance is excellent compared to onboard offerings, but not even close to competitive with recent GPUs from either AMD or nvidia.  Will Apple improve GPU performance to the point where it doesn't matter before they ship PCI GPU support?  Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it, and it doesn't make sense for Apple to require first-party only graphics the way it does for CPUs.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    This is great news, wish they'd add the GPU support to Catalina too - I don't want to update to Big Sur just yet.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 7
    rcfarcfa Posts: 946member
    This is great news, wish they'd add the GPU support to Catalina too - I don't want to update to Big Sur just yet.
    Sometimes copying the drivers to an older OS works, they are signed by Apple, after all. But of course only if they don’t rely on APIs not present in older OS versions…
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    Could these drivers be used for eGPUs? Sure. But the real story as mentioned in the article is for Mac Pro users. Right now, the best graphics they can get are Vega IIs. Even though we know that Intel machines are dead technology walking, people (mostly businesses) purchased this machine to do real work over a multi-year period (3-5 years or longer). Even if Apple comes out with an M-powered Mac Pro that dusts the Intel version for performance and especially performance/watt, that doesn't change the fact that thousands of them are in the field doing real work right now. And when you ship an expensive machine with PCI slots and you control the graphics driver situation as tightly as you do, you (Apple) are the ones responsible to make sure these machines continue to have an upgrade path in their lifecycle.
    edited April 22 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7
    keithwkeithw Posts: 56member
    "Apple hasn't enabled GPU support for its latest M1-based Macs and may not be able to. Future M-series processors may allow for eGPU support but there hasn't been any indication of a timeline for such a feature. For now, only Intel-based Macs with Thunderbolt 3 can use eGPUs."

    CAN'T or WON'T? Big difference.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    I kind of hope that Apple won't support eGPUs on Apple Silicon. It would mean that Apple has its own discrete GPU up its sleeve. The industry could use some additional competition in the GPU space and Apple has the proven expertise in silicon design to release a competitive GPU.
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