Info Apple Plans to Announce Move to Its Own Mac Chips at WWDC

Aikouka

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Nov 27, 2001
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I'm curious to see how this ends up going for the GPU aspect and also tasks that were commonly GPU-accelerated. We could argue that this is more competition in the space... albeit, for a very specific margin. However, I'd like to think that it at least gives Intel (and to a lesser degree, AMD) more of a reason not to rest on their laurels.
 

Kaido

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Feb 14, 2004
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I'm curious to see how this ends up going for the GPU aspect and also tasks that were commonly GPU-accelerated. We could argue that this is more competition in the space... albeit, for a very specific margin. However, I'd like to think that it at least gives Intel (and to a lesser degree, AMD) more of a reason not to rest on their laurels.
This part scares me a bit:
  • Apple’s chips will combine custom CPU, GPU, SSD controller and many other components."
I wonder if the Mac Pros will still get custom third-party GPU's from AMD etc. On the flip side, I've grown to really like the idea of running iPhone & iPad apps on a laptop. I'm hoping the next MBP's will feature (1) a touchscreen, and (2) a flip screen. I just picked up a 12.9" iPad & definitely wouldn't mind (1) an integrated keyboard, and (2) the ability to run Mac apps. I'd hope that Windows could still be emulated using Parallels or VMware. That would be a pretty killer machine tbh...iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, plus Windows via virtualization & potentially Android (ex. Bluestacks) & so on. That would be a pretty dope development machine!
 

quikah

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Apr 7, 2003
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This is going to f* up some of our developers who use Macs as they often will use a VM or bootcamp to windows to do some cross platform testing.

You cannot virtualize x86 on ARM based processor. Modern virtualization passes the instructions directly to the CPU, you would need some sort of translator to go from x86 to ARM. Either Apple would need to add this in hardware or virtualization vendors would need to add some binary translator to the hypervisor (this is how VMware used to work back before hardware virtualization extensions in the CPU were created).
 
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Kaido

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Admittedly I’m a noob, wouldn’t this make software compatibility a nightmare?
Yes & no. Back when Apple switched from Motorola PPC chips to Intel chips, they had a software translator called Rosetta. They're bringing that back as Rosetta 2:


This lets most apps run natively using the emulator, while also giving developers time to transition their software into native ARM programming. Sort of like how you can emulate a Nintendo under Windows without too much fuss.
 

Kaido

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This is going to f* up some of our developers who use Macs as they often will use a VM or bootcamp to windows to do some cross platform testing.
I'm definitely curious about this:

1. Microsoft has been integrating more & more Linux into their OS. It's called Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which among other things lets you run Linux programs natively under Windows 10 & Server 2019. The original WSL didn't have any actual kernel code, but the new WSL2 basically runs the Linux kernel in a virtual machine using a form of Hyper-V. So there is a future for a *nix-based system.

2. Microsoft has Windows for ARM, which is a special version of Windows 10 that runs on ARM chips. The problem is that they do not have a version of Rosetta, so there's no compatibility for older x86 programs that ran on Intel/AMD chips. This was the issue they ran into when they first started selling the Surface tablet running Windows RT (aka Windows for ARM), because while it looked like Windows, it didn't actually run any real Windows programs. They tried to do Windows Mobile devices, like phones, but Android & iPhone already had pretty big software libraries & none of the regular Windows programs ran on any of the RT-driven devices, so it failed to stick long-term.

3. Hypervisors like Parallels & VMware aren't CPU emulators, which is why Apple developed Rosetta Stone & Rosetta Stone 2. I'd imagine they'll try to find a way to emulate x86 processors in order to run x64 operating systems, but I'm curious how Apple plans to support things like Boot Camp for now. That's a lot of CPU bandwidth to eat, just to get x86-based software talking. Maybe they've got a trick up their sleeve, or maybe this is where they cut ties with Windows on Mac. Maybe they'll have a coprocessor in there that runs certain aspects of binaries, sort of like WINE or RemoteApp or something. Just seems like it would be a huge ARM CPU hog to do x86 emulation, and perhaps a waste of hardware globally based on how many people actually use things like Boot Camp & Parallels.

4. This may or may not spell the end of Hackintosh. Maybe the next generation of Hackintosh involves ARM computers. But if it's "Apple Silicone", then it may be Apple-specific, so that would cut things off. If so, I'd estimate we'll get another maybe 7 years of support out of Intel chips before Apple drops x86 support.

5. Also curious about Hackintosh emulation. You can run OSX in VMware under Windows, as well as in stuff like unRAID with more baremetal features. ARM emulators do exist (ex. QEMU CPU emulator, MS Device Emulator, etc.), and again, are separate from Hypervisors like VMware & Parallels.

6. DaaS is growing quite a bit. I have various clients & friends who use cloud virtualization & stream, everything from Google Cloud Services & Amazon Web Services to end-user systems like PaperSpace & ShadowTech. ShadowTech in particular has gotten really good about streaming GPU-driven Windows desktops to various devices, so you can now play games pretty well without actually owning a gaming computer - you basically just lease one from month to month, which is pretty cool. Having say a Macbook that has a touchscreen, a flip screen, can run MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS, and then stream a gaming PC from the cloud wouldn't be a terrible way to go!

The future is crazy. I wasn't a big fan of moving to an isolated-app based architecture for computers, but having an ARM-based system that runs full MacOS AND can run iOS & iPadOS apps does sound pretty dope tbh!
 

quikah

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Apr 7, 2003
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2. Microsoft has Windows for ARM, which is a special version of Windows 10 that runs on ARM chips. The problem is that they do not have a version of Rosetta, so there's no compatibility for older x86 programs that ran on Intel/AMD chips.
You can run 32-bit x86 windows apps on Windows for ARM (it uses the WOW64 layer). Supposedly the performance is lackluster, never used it myself.

BTW, WAAAY back (~1994 or so), DEC made a translator for Windows NT 4(I think ?) that would allow x86 programs to run on DEC Alpha version of NT. Not sure it is at all related to the current implementation, just some interesting trivia.
 
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manly

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Jan 25, 2000
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I don't follow Apple closely these days, but presumably the Mac Pro will continue with the Xeon platform for at least a "little while?" If you're in the market for a laptop, obviously you wait.

I'm curious to see how this ends up going for the GPU aspect and also tasks that were commonly GPU-accelerated. We could argue that this is more competition in the space... albeit, for a very specific margin. However, I'd like to think that it at least gives Intel (and to a lesser degree, AMD) more of a reason not to rest on their laurels.
Isn't all integrated graphics still significantly weaker than current discrete GPUs? Apple makes a great SoC, but I don't think this has any impact on NVIDIA or AMD GPUs. It might take away a few discrete GPUs from iMacs, but that's about it. Will it still be a 16-inch MacBook Pro if it doesn't have a dGPU?

This is going to f* up some of our developers who use Macs as they often will use a VM or bootcamp to windows to do some cross platform testing.

You cannot virtualize x86 on ARM based processor. Modern virtualization passes the instructions directly to the CPU, you would need some sort of translator to go from x86 to ARM. Either Apple would need to add this in hardware or virtualization vendors would need to add some binary translator to the hypervisor (this is how VMware used to work back before hardware virtualization extensions in the CPU were created).
I'm a little rusty on my virtualization, but that's not how the original VMware worked. It did native x86 code execution, but had to use software techniques to create the illusion of a VM.
 

quikah

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Apr 7, 2003
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I'm a little rusty on my virtualization, but that's not how the original VMware worked. It did native x86 code execution, but had to use software techniques to create the illusion of a VM.
I probably mispoke a bit. VMware originally was doing binary translation. What is meant by that is unsafe instructions (such as reading memory) are trapped and translated into a safe instruction. In the example of reading memory the virtualization software (the virtual machine monitor did this I believe) will convert the virtual memory address requested by the guest into the physical memory address. Today this is done by the CPU. Same basic concept could be used to run x86 instructions on ARM, but obviously you would be trapping pretty much every instruction rather than just a subset.

Nice explanation here:
 
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secretanchitman

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Apr 11, 2001
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I'm very curious myself. Will Apple still use TB3 and eventually TB4 and like Manly stated, how will the Apple SoC fare against the discrete AMD GPUs they've been using for a while?

A lot of questions for sure. I hope the I/O on the DTK Mac Mini still is the same as the current Intel model!
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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You can run 32-bit x86 windows apps on Windows for ARM (it uses the WOW64 layer). Supposedly the performance is lackluster, never used it myself.

BTW, WAAAY back (~1994 or so), DEC made a translator for Windows NT 4(I think ?) that would allow x86 programs to run on DEC Alpha version of NT. Not sure it is at all related to the current implementation, just some interesting trivia.
TIL! So you apparently need a 64-bit ARM64 version of Windows (and hardware) to run 32-bit x86 programs. Would be very curious to try it out!


WOW64 is the x86 emulator that allows 32-bit Windows-based applications to run seamlessly on 64-bit Windows. This allows for 32-bit (x86) Windows applications to run seamlessly in 64-bit (x64) Windows, as well as for 32-bit (x86) and 32-bit (ARM) Windows applications to run seamlessly in 64-bit (ARM64) Windows.
 

FaaR

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Dec 28, 2007
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This is interesting stuff. Presumably, Mac Pro will be the last product line to translate over to ARM, since phat multicore chips take a lot of work to design (IE expensive), yet sell in the smallest amounts.

Current Mac Pro tops out at 28 big cores, versus iPad Pro SoC at 4 big +4 little cores... How is Apple going to solve this issue? They gotta sell tens of thousands of regular Macs for every Mac Pro (and even worse ratio for Mac Pros with the phattest CPU option), are they really going to design a 28+ core chip just for this tiny market segment?!!??!!?!!

I'm doubtful.

Will they go multi-chip instead, like Mac Pros were prior to the "trashcan"? Suppose a desktop Mac comes with 12 cores or whatever, as rumored. Slap two of those in a Mac Pro chassis and you've got some decent compute ability. Why not 3, 4 chips too? Of course, they'll need to support standard DIMMs (ECC, because Apple likes that. Good markup potential on the sales price for those), because people expect to be able to stuff in more RAM as they need it.
 

quikah

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Apr 7, 2003
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This is interesting stuff. Presumably, Mac Pro will be the last product line to translate over to ARM, since phat multicore chips take a lot of work to design (IE expensive), yet sell in the smallest amounts.

Current Mac Pro tops out at 28 big cores, versus iPad Pro SoC at 4 big +4 little cores... How is Apple going to solve this issue? They gotta sell tens of thousands of regular Macs for every Mac Pro (and even worse ratio for Mac Pros with the phattest CPU option), are they really going to design a 28+ core chip just for this tiny market segment?!!??!!?!!

I'm doubtful.

Will they go multi-chip instead, like Mac Pros were prior to the "trashcan"? Suppose a desktop Mac comes with 12 cores or whatever, as rumored. Slap two of those in a Mac Pro chassis and you've got some decent compute ability. Why not 3, 4 chips too? Of course, they'll need to support standard DIMMs (ECC, because Apple likes that. Good markup potential on the sales price for those), because people expect to be able to stuff in more RAM as they need it.
That is a good question. AMD is at 64 cores now and they are not standing still (they will be increasing the core count in the future).

On the other hand, what do you need all these cores for? I think they are more designing for the software. If final cut pro can edit at 8k using 4 or 8 Apple cores you don't need to add another 30.
 

Kaido

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That is a good question. AMD is at 64 cores now and they are not standing still (they will be increasing the core count in the future).

On the other hand, what do you need all these cores for? I think they are more designing for the software. If final cut pro can edit at 8k using 4 or 8 Apple cores you don't need to add another 30.
Multiple cores are used for sooooo many things: CAD, DCC, rendering, gaming, compiling code, etc. Sure, you can edit 8K on a lower amount of cores, but have fun exporting that to a different final format in a timely manner! (unless you have an Afterburner or RED card)

Although personally, I gave up on Apple for creative projects after they neglected FCP for so long. I miss stuff like Shake & Smoke, but Resolve & Premier are cross-platform & work just fine under Windows, and like you said, AMD has a 64-core CPU out these days. Price-wise:

* 64-core chip is $8k
* 48GB Quadro is $5.5k
* 1TB RAM is $4.5k
* 8TB SSD is $1.2k

Whereas Apple charges:

* 28-core chip for $7k
* $10k for 768GB RAM ($25k for 1.5TB)
* $2.5k for an 8TB SSD

I build custom workstations from time to time for DCC professionals & it's amazing what you can get for the money these days! I recently built a "budget" rig for a guy using mostly eBay parts (pair of used 22-core Xeons for $1k/ea, 16GB Quadro P5000 for $900, 1TB RAM for $5k...mem-testing took like 3 days lol, crazy SSD drives, etc.) and it was more than 1/3 the cost of an equivalent Mac Pro. But, it depends on what you do for work, if you want company support backed by Apple/HP/Dell/whatever, and so on. But yeah...the more cores the better!!
 

quikah

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Apr 7, 2003
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Multiple cores are used for sooooo many things: CAD, DCC, rendering, gaming, compiling code, etc. Sure, you can edit 8K on a lower amount of cores, but have fun exporting that to a different final format in a timely manner! (unless you have an Afterburner or RED card)
Whats that? You can solve a problem by selling your customer an add-in card for the system you just sold them? This sounds perfect for Apple.
 
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