Apple's newly updated Mac desktops feature only ATI graphics

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
In this week's refresh of the Mac Pro and iMac lineup, Apple chose to only offer ATI graphics options in all configurations of the company's latest desktops.



That's a change from last October, when the iMac line was redesigned, and buyers of the the 21.5-inch iMac had the option of integrated graphics via the Nvidia GeForce 9400M. The discrete graphics options available in last year's iMac line were all ATI cards.



But with Tuesday's updates of the iMac and Mac Pro lines, ATI is now the sole graphics option on Apple's Mac desktop lineup. David Baumann, product manager for AMD's graphics division, which oversees the ATI graphics products, spoke with AppleInsider about the new lineup.



Mac Pro



The new low-end Mac Pro, starting at $2,499, comes standard with an ATI Radeon HD 5770, with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. That's a major improvement from years past, when Apple has typically chosen to put a lower product as the default, Baumann said.



"This round they actually moved that up (and chose the 5770)," he said, "so the default is actually a very, very capable product on its own."



On the high end, users can opt for the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card, which is the most powerful GPU product ATI currently offers. It offers 2.72 teraflops of processing power via 2.15 billion 40nm transistors.



The 5770 is "basically the equivalent" of the previous generation's high-end option, the 4870 graphics card, he said. Choosing to go with better ATI graphics cards helped Apple to achieve performance up to 50 percent faster than the previous generation.







In the past, Apple has had access to early hardware, or parts that are designed specifically for the Mac. This year, it released notebooks with the exclusive Nvidia 320M GPU.



But that's not the case with this week's iMac and Mac Pro upgrades, as Baumann said all of the GPUs are stock parts. ATI made some minor technical changes to meet Apple's specific requirements, but the SKU, speeds and capabilities are all identical to the cards' PC counterparts.



iMac



On the iMac side, the entry-level 21.5-inch desktop comes standard with ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics, packing 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM. In Windows, it's a DirectX 10.1-level product, which equates to OpenGL 3.3 support.



The rest of the iMac GPUs come from ATI's HD5000 series lineup, codenamed "evergreen." All of the cards have the same feature set capabilities, but they differentiate in terms of performance. The cards -- the 5670 with 512MB GDDR3 and 5750 with 1GB GDDR5 -- can support OpenGL 4.1 and DirectX 11.







Despite ATI's dominance on the Mac desktop, Apple, for its portable computers, has instead stuck with that company's rival, Nvidia. The last last Mac notebook update, the $999 MacBook, added Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics to the company's low-end portable computer. The 320M mobile graphics processor first appeared in April in the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro.



The higher-end 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros also have Nvidia graphics. They include a discrete GeForce GT 330M processor, as well as integrated Intel HD Graphics. The systems intelligently switch between discrete and integrated graphics to balance power and battery life.



Despite ATI's absence from Apple's notebooks, the relationship between Apple and AMD, the owner of ATI, could expand to even greater lengths in the future, as AppleInsider reported in April that the two companies are in advanced discussions to bring AMD CPUs to its Mac line. Currently, all Macs are powered by Intel processors.



AMD declined to comment on its relationship with Apple, and Baumann simply stated that the graphics side of his company has a good working partnership with the Mac maker.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    jsbjsb Posts: 2member
    So if these are stock parts, I wonder what the potential is to go in and do some elective surgery? It seems that there is some room for improvement within ATI's line over what Apple is currently offering.
  • Reply 2 of 56
    jsbjsb Posts: 2member
    And second.
  • Reply 3 of 56
    bill p.bill p. Posts: 14member
    Checking the Apple store, I didn't see the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card offered as an option on either the Pro line or the iMacs. Am I missing something?



    Thanks
  • Reply 4 of 56
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    Two factors; Apple are getting pissed with Intel, and OpenCL- Nvidia dragging their heels.
  • Reply 5 of 56
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,506member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post


    Two factors; Apple are getting pissed with Intel, and OpenCL- Nvidia dragging their heels.



    I'd add a third factor in that AMD simply hasn't had the production problems NVidia has had. They actually seem to be able to reliably produce all the chips that they design.



    As to getting pissed with Intel that has to be an issue at Apple. I'm surprised that they didn't implement an AMD based XMac on this go around.





    Dave
  • Reply 6 of 56
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bill P. View Post


    Checking the Apple store, I didn't see the ATI Radeon HD 5870 card offered as an option on either the Pro line or the iMacs. Am I missing something?



    Thanks



    The new Mac Pros aren't available for build to order yet.. not till next month
  • Reply 7 of 56
    zonk3rzonk3r Posts: 8member
    Great that the hardware supports 4.1 but when will Apple finally update their OpenGL libraries to 4.1. They are still back in 2.1 according to this: http://developer.apple.com/graphicsi.../capabilities/



    Sure 4.1 is brand new but 4.0 has been out for a while and 3.0 for longer still...
  • Reply 8 of 56
    emulatoremulator Posts: 251member
    ATI gfx in a pro machine, right. What were they smoking?
  • Reply 9 of 56
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,714member
    I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.
  • Reply 10 of 56
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,569member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.



    Kinda like the year of HD. Makes you wonder.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    NVidia will offer a wider range of MacPro options in the not so distant future,

    they have a warm relationship with adobe and autodesk to name just a few...
  • Reply 12 of 56
    mr. kmr. k Posts: 114member
    So are these laptop graphics chips (aka "Mobility Radeon") like the last generation of iMacs?
  • Reply 13 of 56
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,204member
    Funny that Apple cannot support FULL OpenGL 3.3 with the 9400M/9600M GT, but Nvidia does on Windows 7!:

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/noteboo...ql-driver.html



    Come on Apple, add the Shading Language version 1.30 already! At least then 3.0 is complete!



    Download OpenGL Extensions Viewer and see how your Mac (and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) performs:

    http://www.realtech-vr.com/glview/index.html
  • Reply 14 of 56
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    I just seems strange that there was this huge marketing push with OpenCL and NVIDIA when Snow Leopard was released, and now there are no desktops except the mini with NVIDIA cards, and there is no longer any mention of OpenCL support for the iMac or Mac Pro.



    The Snow Leopard OCL page says AMD supports OCL too. It does seem odd they don't say anything about OCL though.
  • Reply 15 of 56
    toddrtoddr Posts: 4member
    Apple has been pushing their top end models for scientific computing. Those of us in that community have been waiting for the update thinking that it would support the double precision capability that comes with Fermi.



    Is it possible to put the Fermi GPU into the latest MacPro and access it through OpenCL (or CUDA)?
  • Reply 16 of 56
    In terms of the iMacs, does 'discrete' instead of 'integrated' imply a swappable card?
  • Reply 17 of 56
    zonk3rzonk3r Posts: 8member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by emulator View Post


    ATI gfx in a pro machine, right. What were they smoking?



    Nothing wrong with ATI gfx in a pro machine.



    The only problem ATI has had is with their drivers which never seem to reflect the quality of their hardware. Sadly this is true of both their own Windows drivers and the Apple supplied drivers for OS X.
  • Reply 18 of 56
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The higher-end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros also have Nvidia graphics. They include a discrete GeForce GT 330M processor, as well as integrated Intel HD Graphics.



    All 13-inch MacBook Pro's have the 320M graphics; the 330M is only in the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros.
  • Reply 19 of 56
    *hopes for GTX 480 in Mac Pro soon*
  • Reply 20 of 56
    desidesdesides Posts: 80member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. K View Post


    So are these laptop graphics chips (aka "Mobility Radeon") like the last generation of iMacs?



    They appear to be the full-fledged desktop-class GPUs.



    And for those wondering why nvidia has mostly disappeared from Apple's desktop lineup after this refresh, look at the TDP, ambient noise, and temperature figures on the Fermi line. You guys want to put THAT into the closed environment of an iMac? (Though it's less of an issue on the Mac Pro, to be fair.)
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