Powerbook VRAM

pbpb
Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I have noticed that more and more PC laptops are equiped with a 128 MB VRAM graphics chip. A friend of mine bought recently in Europe the AMILO D 1840 Widescreen Series (Fujitsu Siemens), for 1900 euros (incl. 21% VAT). It was a special deal and he finally paid 1700 euros!



Anyway, this laptop has the Radeon 9600 with 128 MB VRAM on x8 AGP. On the other hand, the better one can have right now in a Powerbook is 64 MB. Now I am not aware of the benefits to move from 64 to 128 MB (except that you get more ), but does anyone know why Apple does not give its customers the option to buy the 128 MB version of the graphics chip, when available? Like they do in RAM and hard drives? Are there technological limitations imposed by the Powerbook design or it is simply a (stupid) marketing thing in Apple's part? Could be said anything for the next Powerbook update? (oooops, Future Hardware here)
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    I think that when the last revision of PowerBooks came out, 128 MB laptop graphics were very new, and probably more expensive than they are now (graphics cards tend to advance in technology REALLY fast). Also, there might be a heat/space issue, and it wouldn't be worth it to make the PowerBook significantly hotter or heavier to accommodate 128 MB of VRAM. 64 MB is still damn good.



    EDIT: I think it's likely that for their next revision, PowerBooks get 128 MB graphics on AGP 8x on the high end and 64 MB graphics on the low end.
  • Reply 2 of 21
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    I can't be sure, but that computer has "128MB external RAM" which might mean shared RAM. That chip comes in 4 variants, up to 128 MB of RAM on the chip. But that description of "external RAM" looks to mean that it's in fact the cheapest version using RAM not on the chip itself.



    If that's the case, then Apple doesn't want to use it in their PowerBooks.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    machemmachem Posts: 319member
    Yeah, one thing that suprised me when eventually taking a cursory look at Win laptops is the amount of shared memory video on these things. I didn't even know such a thing existed. In fact, it has been hard to find a Win laptop that doesn't use it. That is one thing appreciate out of Apple, in retrospect.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member




    PC notebooks are a joke unless you get an Alienware or something very expensive. "Shared memory" is a HUGE performance drop and most PC nuts/Apple haters don't know what it even means. It's like a 2Ghz Celeron. Sure looks good on paper. But um, doesn't compare to any Mac.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Definitely when the new Pbooks first came out the 64 meg radeon 9600 was THE top of the line for laptop graphics. I'm sure that has or will change soon.



    either way, I can play warcraft 3 at max settings with NO lag, and that ain't not bad



    even UT2k3 ran well(though not all settings were maxed...most were)
  • Reply 6 of 21
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bunge

    I can't be sure, but that computer has "128MB external RAM" which might mean shared RAM.



    Especially for this case, there is a dedicated graphics chip, not shared.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    alcimedesalcimedes Posts: 5,486member
    it would be odd for the high end machine to have shared RAM, but i've not come across the "external RAM" saying before. not sure exactly what that means. i'll see if i can find it out.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    No, the VRAM is usually not shared, especially if the specs are 128MB. We really shouldn't suggest or assume that is shared just because Apple doesn't offer 128MB GPUs. When it comes to specs/performance, PC notebooks are not the ones that are a joke. Not when they are powerful, have the latest technology AND some models (Centrino, or the new Mobile Pentium 4) last 4+ REAL hours on a single charge with real usage.



    OS preference aside (since that is totally subjective), there is nothing pathetic about current PC Notebook specs and options and choices. The upcoming 'Dothan' chip (Centrino II) from Intel will be even more efficient, longer battery life than the current impressive run, they will be even faster, more powerful, and they will use the .09 micron process, and will have a whopping 2MB level 2 cache. Not bad for a 2-3lbs notebook. For the high-end notebooks with these mother video chips in them, there is the new Mobile Pentium 4 which also lasts a very long time (longer than any PowerBook) and desktop speeds.



    Shared video memory is usually on the ultra light Centrino models, or sub-notebooks, or regular notebooks that are at the low-budget value level. Usually you'll see 'shared memory' clearly stated and only up to 64MB using the on-board Intel Extreme embedded graphics technology (which actually performs very well in tiny little notebooks that last forever on battery and will get more advanced when the Dothan-Centrino II chips are released in a month or so). ATI also has a chip that uses shared memory, but it's not widely used yet. ATI is also coming out with a low-power higher performance chip that will be used in many Centrino notebooks for even better efficiency.



    It seems to me that the term 'external memory' means that it's NOT shared and is exactly the opposite of what a few are suggesting. Maybe it's a typo? Or, maybe there is a new ATI chip that has up to 128MB shared - that would be quite odd in a performance PC notebook and is certainly not the norm at all.



    The Dell's, Compaq's, HP's, Gateway's and so on that offer the ATI and nVIDIA GPUs with 128MB of VRAM are the real deal and that memory is indeed discrete. Apple has not yet offered these high-end GPUs in their high-end PowerBooks, even though they were widely available at the last PowerBoook revision. Lets hope they will appear in the next update (as well as the 7200rpm HDs that have been out for a while now too).
  • Reply 9 of 21
    machemmachem Posts: 319member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Patchouli





    It seems to me that the term 'external memory' means that it's NOT shared and is exactly the opposite of what a few are suggesting. Maybe it's a typo? Or, maybe there is a new ATI chip that has up to 128MB shared - that would be quite odd in a performance PC notebook and is certainly not the norm at all.





    That makes sense to me --- it seems to me that it is at least common that video memory is shared in PC laptops, so it makes sense to specify when it is not shared.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    Actually, and as I stated, shared video ram in PC notebooks is not very common at all when you look at how many different types of notebooks out there, not to mention all the different brands. It's a big misconception in the Mac community (like many other PC related topics, but I won't go there!) who sometimes do not understand the amount of different offerings and brands to choose from and that one really can't generalize at all.



    The only area where shared video memory can be considered common is in budget notebooks (people who are skimping to by the cheapest are probably not buying and playing the latest games) or those really tiny sub-notebooks (where the embedded GPU is more than enough for a notebook that small).



    Even most Centrino Notebooks use a decent GPU with discrete memory (usually ATI, but like I said, both nVIDIA and ATI are coming out with low-power, high performance GPUs that will be bundled with Centrino with both discrete and shared memory).



    All this aside, I am sure Apple will introduce the 128MB GPU in the next PowerBook refresh.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Thanks Patchouli for the insightful analysis. So, sadly, it appears that Apple could have included the 128 MB Radeon in the last update, but for some reason chose not to. Furthermore, the performance (and most importantly, the performance/price ratio) gap between Powerbooks and PC notebooks seems is going to get even larger quite shortly.



    But this is not my point here. Assume now that the Powerbooks get in the next refresh the 128 MB GPU. What would be the benefits from this change? I remember reading some time ago about the x8 AGP interface, that most applications see little, if any, benefit from it over x4 AGP. What about double the VRAM amount? I don't know however if and how the x8 AGP will affect Quartz and Quartz Extreme, especially in a low power machine like a notebook. Anyone could clarify (perhaps G5 users that had a G4 previously)?
  • Reply 12 of 21
    trowatrowa Posts: 176member
    going 128 MB of VRAM and running on 8x AGP will mostly only benefit games. The extra RAM will help textures and FPS (frames per second) during game play. Not much benefit for casual users or even creative pros.



    When Apple released the Alumbooks they were actually using the fastest GPU's available. Kudos for Apple on that. I hope they continue the trend. At the time the mobile ATI 9600 with 64 MB VRAM was in volume while the 128 MB versions were just being manufactured. PC laptops only started offering this option a month or so after Apple released the Alumbooks. It was just a timing issue I think.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trowa

    going 128 MB of VRAM and running on 8x AGP will mostly only benefit games. The extra RAM will help textures and FPS (frames per second) during game play.





    So, I guess, Quartz Extreme will too see benefits from that, since it is OpenGL based.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by trowa

    When Apple released the Alumbooks they were actually using the fastest GPU's available. Kudos for Apple on that. I hope they continue the trend. At the time the mobile ATI 9600 with 64 MB VRAM was in volume while the 128 MB versions were just being manufactured.




    Quote:

    Originally posted by Patchouli

    The Dell's, Compaq's, HP's, Gateway's and so on that offer the ATI and nVIDIA GPUs with 128MB of VRAM are the real deal and that memory is indeed discrete. Apple has not yet offered these high-end GPUs in their high-end PowerBooks, even though they were widely available at the last PowerBoook revision.





    Looks like we got contradictory info here...
  • Reply 14 of 21
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    External RAM is not a good sign. This graphics card either has RAM on the chip, or not at all. External RAM means that it's the cheap version of the 128 MB card. It might not be shared with system RAM; it might be a completely separate chip from both the GPU and the system RAM. But external RAM with this GPU is the low end model of the card.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    Quote:

    All this aside, I am sure Apple will introduce the 128MB GPU in the next PowerBook refresh.



    Quote:

    It was just a timing issue I think.



    Yup. Really not a big deal either way.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    trowatrowa Posts: 176member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by PB

    So, I guess, Quartz Extreme will too see benefits from that, since it is OpenGL based.



    Looks like we got contradictory info here...




    It was shipping but not in "bulk" That's why alienware or sager were able to get them into their notebooks. Companies like Apple, HP, Dell et al, need bulk shipments. Alienware and Sager only ship a fraction compared to the big boys. If Apple wanted to put them in the alumbooks they could have, but it would have created a shipping delay. and the Powerbooks were already "delayed" for some time.



    They will most likely be in the next revision. I wouldn't worry too much about the 9600. I'm more interested in seeing what's next on the horizon for ATI and NVIDIA.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trowa



    They will most likely be in the next revision. I wouldn't worry too much about the 9600. I'm more interested in seeing what's next on the horizon for ATI and NVIDIA.




    Something like Mobility Radeon 9800 without the fan?
  • Reply 18 of 21
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by PB

    Something like Mobility Radeon 9800 without the fan?



    Interesting, I just found this one. Could someone translate?
  • Reply 19 of 21
    trowatrowa Posts: 176member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by PB

    Interesting, I just found this one. Could someone translate?



    translated using babelfish...



    As for MOBILITY RADEON 9800 appearing?

    In MOBILITY RADEON 9600 MOBILITY RADEON of Pentium M correspondence 7000 IGP. It is quick from the product concert which attracted attention 1 month and half. The on-board product does not show the not yet even form. From shipment circumstance of the product concerning product from this, direct bomb hit it did in the Mobile marketing top which is in the midst of visiting Japan

    \t



    Mobile Business Unit marketing director Reuven Soraya of ATI Technologies, visited Japan for meeting with the business partner.



    ATI around ahead with the organization alteration which does, absorbing management of the integrated type chip set which has divided into the both of the desktop unit and the Mobile unit, into the Mobile unit to that. Because of that as for Soraya, presently, there is a standpoint, marketing leader of the MOBILITY RADEON series and the RADEON IPG series.



    Soraya, adjusting to the latest visiting Japan, expressed according to the collection of data of ZDNet, present condition of the graphic tip/chip and integrated type chip set business for Mobile concerning product development from this, in addition, explained the circumstance of MOBILITY RADEON 9600 where throwing is late.





    When it goes to the collection of data of ATI, the story of this hand be sure to appear. This time also the description regarding patch3.3.0 of 3DMark03 is done plus. "As for the rival, time is required from announcement to shipment, at the same time, performance of the up-to-date product is inferior from the product before our one years". The parties deny, but in the human outside, in order response of this hand, heat to raise recently more and more, you can think, but



    Very now, it is supported from many users the RADEON 9XXX series as "for the desktop where the highest performance is shown a video card",, but many users think that it is the time when bitter fight has been forced to the RIVA series of beginning and NVIDIA where the RADEON series appears and the GeForce series of the succession, that you have remembered.



    At that time, those where ATI which is predicament is supported, for the note PC such as "RAGE MOBILITY" "RAGE LT PRO" are the graphic tip/chip. At that time, most note PC private graphic tips/chips such as NeoMagic did not support the 3D drawing function by the hardware. Supporting only in that kind of circumstance is RAGE MOBILITY. For the desktop in comparison with the product, however it was rather low performance, it was accepted by many note PC users, and the note PC vendor, ATI danced suddenly in the top and came out.



    After that, powerful rival such as the GeForce Go series of NVIDIA appeared, but "for note PC the product of ATI has occupied 4 tenths of graphic tip/chip", position of the top vendor is guaranteed (Soraya) with, as still.



    This way, for the note PC of ATI which establishes the image of "the private graphic tip/chip vendor which had powerful performance" as for product sale constitution "the discrete tip/chip 6 tenths" (Soraya) with has become.



    But, Soraya while this state is quick, analyzes that it changes. "As for the value zone of note PC cost reduction is advanced, integrated type chip set is loaded onto that kind of note PC by all means. It probably reaches the point where also the business of ATI moves to integrated type chip set from discrete subject ",



    Vis-a-vis present integrated type chip set, what many users feel is "dissatisfied (Soraya for the meager efficiency which begins video drawing"). In order that as for ATI you answer to the dissatisfaction, MOBILITY RADEON 7000 IGP which corresponds to FSB 533MHz and PC2700 has been announced already. This chip set received the license of the support of Pentium M formally from Intel, not only calling the only third party make chip set, it was expected even with the drawing efficiency which exceeds the Intel extreme graphics 2 which is loaded onto Intel 855GM.



    But, MOBILITY RADEON 7000 IGP is not adopted summer of this year when the Intel 855GM on-board product finally appears in the model. Concerning this point as for Soraya "as for note PC of the value class which IGP has made the target memory bus below PC2100 has become main current as still. In addition, because permission of the license is immediately before the Pentium M announcing vis-a-vis Pentium M, the note PC vendor summer was not in time to the development of the model ", that it explained.





    Shiping circumstance of the integrated type chip set of ATI. As for being introduced as the up-to-date type Fujitsu BIBLO MG17D/A which loads ThinkPad R40e and RADEON IGP 320M which load RADEON IGP 340M. Both just was announced are the products in May, but it does not load MOBILITY RADEON 7000 IGP



    In lag of the on-board product, the fact that after all it becomes matter of concern is the circumstance of MOBILITY RADEON 9600. In the concert that "up-to-date function of the desktop was actualized promptly even with note PC", it appealed, it had become the schedule where from NEC and Fujitsu etc. loading note PC appears in May. But, being May, those where really it appears are the SONY and Toshiba which load GeForce FX of the rival Go 5600 product.



    MOBILITY RADEON 9600 supports "GDDR2-M" in video memory. GDDR2-M basically is DDR, but optimization of wiring pattern is done economical electric power and in order to be compatible performance. Has the production of this GDDR2-M probably become the problem?



    Soraya denied this possibility instantaneously. "ATI is different from the other vendor as the reason where the on-board product of MOBILITY RADEON 9600 is late, considerably accurately, at the same time conveys development schedule to the vendor finely. Because of that in the difference of little timing, the case which cannot be loaded onto the product which is in the midst of developing occurs. Because it crosses development period of the note PC in Japan long term, the just just a little difference, fall and, moves largely from the summer as a shipment time of note PC ", that you answered.



    In addition, presently in the MOBILITY RADEON series where "9600" becomes most significant, "proper examination has gone concerning the possibility RADEON 9700, or the RADEON 9800 suitable product appearing. It cannot make appearance time clear, but if you look back at the relationship of the former RADEON series between the MOBILITY RADEON series, expectation probably will be attached ", that, the possibility the Mobile edition most significant machine tip/chip appearing was suggested.



    "It does with powerful economical control of electric power, concerning the processing of the heat which becomes matter of concern, (Soraya) with, you conveyed the idea of holding down heat with the economical electrical conversion with present POWERPLAY 4.0. However, comment is avoided concerning the adoption of 90 nano- process tips/chips.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    naplesxnaplesx Posts: 3,743member
    I read these posts and have to laugh a little.



    Are some of you hardcore windows/ms lovers just trying to disparage everything Apple?



    That little company among goliaths, Apple, is putting out products that turn the whole industry on edge. Others can't touch the quality and usability of apple products. Their big visionary idea is whatever is the next product that Apple comes up with. Apple has come up with a computer and an OS that blur the lines between the two. And you guys are quibbling over vram?



    I think some of you must only need bragging rights. I guess he with the highest sum wins. Right?



    "Hey, check out what I got! It's got 50 GB of Memory and 10 terabytes of storage and 1GB of VRAM. It is got an infinity processor and..."



    "Hey frank, what's that blue error screen mean?"



    You guys know of Ebay, right? It is a great tool for the geek with an appetite for technology. Go ahead. Buy the top of the line Apple that you drool over. When the next best thing comes down the pike, Sell the old one. (apples hold their value very nicely) put up a small premium for the new thing. It's just like renting. It is really fun, you actually make money sometimes.



    It is really a better use of your time. Either that or go back to the IloveMS boards. (I am being silly, of course, there really is no such thing, right?)



    My $0.02
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