Discussion Apple Silicon SoC thread

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Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,564
984
126
M1
5 nm
Unified memory architecture - LP-DDR4
16 billion transistors

8-core CPU

4 high-performance cores
192 KB instruction cache
128 KB data cache
Shared 12 MB L2 cache

4 high-efficiency cores
128 KB instruction cache
64 KB data cache
Shared 4 MB L2 cache
(Apple claims the 4 high-effiency cores alone perform like a dual-core Intel MacBook Air)

8-core iGPU (but there is a 7-core variant, likely with one inactive core)
128 execution units
Up to 24576 concurrent threads
2.6 Teraflops
82 Gigatexels/s
41 gigapixels/s

16-core neural engine
Secure Enclave
USB 4

Products:
$999 ($899 edu) 13" MacBook Air (fanless) - 18 hour video playback battery life
$699 Mac mini (with fan)
$1299 ($1199 edu) 13" MacBook Pro (with fan) - 20 hour video playback battery life

Memory options 8 GB and 16 GB. No 32 GB option (unless you go Intel).

It should be noted that the M1 chip in these three Macs is the same (aside from GPU core number). Basically, Apple is taking the same approach which these chips as they do the iPhones and iPads. Just one SKU (excluding the X variants), which is the same across all iDevices (aside from maybe slight clock speed differences occasionally).

EDIT:

Screen-Shot-2021-10-18-at-1.20.47-PM.jpg

M1 Pro 8-core CPU (6+2), 14-core GPU
M1 Pro 10-core CPU (8+2), 14-core GPU
M1 Pro 10-core CPU (8+2), 16-core GPU
M1 Max 10-core CPU (8+2), 24-core GPU
M1 Max 10-core CPU (8+2), 32-core GPU

M1 Pro and M1 Max discussion here:


M1 Ultra discussion here:


M2 discussion here:


Second Generation 5 nm
Unified memory architecture - LPDDR5, up to 24 GB and 100 GB/s
20 billion transistors

8-core CPU

4 high-performance cores
192 KB instruction cache
128 KB data cache
Shared 16 MB L2 cache

4 high-efficiency cores
128 KB instruction cache
64 KB data cache
Shared 4 MB L2 cache

10-core iGPU (but there is an 8-core variant)
3.6 Teraflops

16-core neural engine
Secure Enclave
USB 4

Hardware acceleration for 8K h.264, h.264, ProRes

M3 Family discussion here:

 
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Solution
The reason Macs don’t have them is because Qualcomm charges Apple by the SKU entry price or whatever. It’d be insanely expensive and it’s too niche.

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
15,332
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I really can't see Apple supporting third party GPUs going forward, and I don't know how many PCIe cards remain that are important in the Mac Pro market.

I also don't know how they handle RAM. Anything with Slots will be slower, plus they already have 16 channels. Do they go to 20 channels with slots to make up for the lower speed of slotted RAM? (Yikes).



I really think it might be something closer to that. But perhaps Multiple Ultras?

Maybe a proprietary card cage with super high speed backplane, where you have One to Four M2-Ultras configured each on their own card so you can add another Complete Ultra later.

Each Ultra can have up to 256GB of soldered in LPDDR/HBM.

4 Ultra cards = up to 1 TB of RAM. 4X CPU and 4X GPU of Ultra.

Mind you anything to access any other card will have NUMA penalties so trade-offs rise as you move beyond one Ultra.

Really hard to guess what Apple has up it's sleeve for the new Mac Pro. Which makes it exciting.
I'd fall over dead if Apple used a high speed back-plane. IIRC, the Ultra has a max of 128GB right now. It's up to Apple and related IHVs to figure out how to make a Mac Pro that will meet the needs of customers who need very high performance MacOS based workstations. Based on usage studies, it is possible that the expandability could be much more limited than in the past. If it makes more sense to Apple to cede market share to Win/Linux Pro workstations, in favor of higher profitability, then that's their call to make.
 

Heartbreaker

Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2006
4,196
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I'd fall over dead if Apple used a high speed back-plane.

:D I'm just kind of expecting a surprise, and multiple SoCs on a back-plane would be a surprise.


IIRC, the Ultra has a max of 128GB right now. It's up to Apple and related IHVs to figure out how to make a Mac Pro that will meet the needs of customers who need very high performance MacOS based workstations.


Upping fixed RAM capacity shouldn't be much of an issue, they just need increased density LPDDR packages. Samsung has been talking about 64GB LPDDR5X packages. That would get you to a TB with the current number of memory Channels. Or they could switch to HBM.

The issue is will there be user upgradable RAM. I think I bet against that.

Based on usage studies, it is possible that the expandability could be much more limited than in the past. If it makes more sense to Apple to cede market share to Win/Linux Pro workstations, in favor of higher profitability, then that's their call to make.

Wouldn't they have ceded a lot of this market during the Mac Pro Trashcan years? I just can't see them going back to third party GPU, which is one of main uses for the PCIe slots in the Mac Pro.
 

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
15,332
7,789
136
I doubt you would be able to replace SSD to any non-Apple branded one, due to being firmware locked.
IIRC, OWC seems to work with Apple to be an ‘alternative' vendor. OWC stuff is usually more expensive than PC equivalents, again, as far as I remember. These are not standard M.2 SSDs, so either way they will cost an arm and a leg if one is even able to buy them. Boo hoo Apple :(.
 

soresu

Platinum Member
Dec 19, 2014
2,553
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However, it is encouraging to see someone paying attention to perf/watt. Perhaps NVIDIA and AMD will begin to as well.
You are confusing the capabilities of their GPU µArchs with the SKUs that put them to use.

The problem being that they are competing with each other and not Apple - therefore they will push the max of the bell curve before power draw skyrockets in order to get max bang per mm2 vs the opposition to maximise profits.

RDNA2 has already reached insane clock frequencies for a GPU, and the µArch perf/watt would likely benefit drastically from lowering them just a bit, as we are likely to see as chiplets in RDNA3+ allow them to start scaling perf with more silicon instead of more voltage (assuming IO/sync overhead doesn't kill the efficiency instead).

Also Max Studio is running on at least a 2nd gen 5nm chip that they get by grabbing TSMCs cutting edge capacity probably before it is even up for auction to other players in the industry.

Hardly a fair comparison here vs either AMD or nVidia taking these factors into consideration.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,564
984
126
IIRC, OWC seems to work with Apple to be an ‘alternative' vendor. OWC stuff is usually more expensive than PC equivalents, again, as far as I remember. These are not standard M.2 SSDs, so either way they will cost an arm and a leg if one is even able to buy them. Boo hoo Apple :(.
OWC is not an Apple partner. They reverse engineer Apple proprietary interfaces and make mediocre quality replacements.

Most of OWC’s recent drives are simply NVMe drives with the reverse engineered interface. However, in cases where the Macs have enough physical room inside, you’re generally better off buying a $10 adapter and using a standard NVMe drive, since you have more choice and better quality options than what OWC offers, for much less money. It should be noted these drives work because Apple (not OWC or other third parties) added built in support in macOS many years ago. There are many limitations though, not the least of which is lack of proper power management, so these may not be as well behaved for Mac laptops because of battery life and sleep issues, although there are specific drives that are much better than others. For desktops they’re less of a concern though. Other issues include loss of Recovery Mode and incompatibilities with certain firmware upgrades and OS updates. OWC’s drives don’t mitigate any of these issues but to make things worse they don’t use top end drives and they charge a huge price premium.

A bigger problem is the form factor. The Mac Studio uses a tiny form factor SSD. Even if such NVMe drives worked with an adapter, 99% of them wouldn’t physically fit in the case. You’d have to source very small ones… or else be willing pay the OWC tax for their often mediocre quality custom models. Or, you could do what I did for my daughter’s MacBook Pro, and just buy a used Apple OEM drive. That avoids the compatibility and feature support issues. (For that Mac, form factor wasn’t an issue though.) For my Mac mini, I didn’t care about power usage for obvious reasons, so I went third party. See below for pix.

It should be noted though that Apple has in principle agreed to right-to-repair, which means you may be able to buy Apple drives for Mac Studio in the future. That would be the much better solution. You can already do this for the Mac Pro 2019.

Here is my 2014 Mac mini with third party adapter and Western digital SSD.

09FF14A7-2EE4-453C-8A56-3C40AF5BACE9.jpeg

3931CEE1-98B5-4BBA-BB30-81C9E3E54F79.jpeg

I’m happily running Monterey with this setup. After my ancient Mac Pro started having problems, I bought the Mac mini and upgraded it for cheap, as a stopgap until I can buy an M1 Pro or M2 Mac mini.

407CCB9E-BDBD-4AEB-BFFA-E61F7691BFDA.png
 
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Heartbreaker

Diamond Member
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IIRC, OWC seems to work with Apple to be an ‘alternative' vendor. OWC stuff is usually more expensive than PC equivalents, again, as far as I remember. These are not standard M.2 SSDs, so either way they will cost an arm and a leg if one is even able to buy them. Boo hoo Apple :(.

It's MUCH better than being soldered in. My concern is repair-ability, and having socketed storage boosts that a lot.
 
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eek2121

Platinum Member
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I'd fall over dead if Apple used a high speed back-plane. IIRC, the Ultra has a max of 128GB right now. It's up to Apple and related IHVs to figure out how to make a Mac Pro that will meet the needs of customers who need very high performance MacOS based workstations. Based on usage studies, it is possible that the expandability could be much more limited than in the past. If it makes more sense to Apple to cede market share to Win/Linux Pro workstations, in favor of higher profitability, then that's their call to make.

How many people actually use expansion in a Mac Pro if you exclude the GPU? I'd wager very few. The Mac Studio likely covers 95% of the "Pro" market, if not more.

On another note, I ordered a Studio Display for my Macbook Pro. Looking to pick up the Mac Studio 20 core variant in the near future. If they do happen to do a refresh of the Mac Pro with even more cores, I may pick that up instead, depending on timing.
 
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repoman27

Senior member
Dec 17, 2018
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We'll do our best to get in :) -Vadim from Max Tech
Mission accomplished! Thanks for the video, and hopefully that went back together OK 😬

OWC is not an Apple partner. They reverse engineer Apple proprietary interfaces and make mediocre quality replacements.

Most of OWC’s recent drives are simply NVMe drives with the reverse engineered interface. However, in cases where the Macs have enough physical room inside, you’re generally better off buying a $10 adapter and using a standard NVMe drive, since you have more choice and better quality options than what OWC offers, for much less money. It should be noted these drives work because Apple (not OWC or other third parties) added built in support in macOS many years ago. There are many limitations though, not the least of which is lack of proper power management, so these may not be as well behaved for Mac laptops because of battery life and sleep issues, although there are specific drives that are much better than others. For desktops they’re less of a concern though. Other issues include loss of Recovery Mode and incompatibilities with certain firmware upgrades and OS updates. OWC’s drives don’t mitigate any of these issues but to make things worse they don’t use top end drives and they charge a huge price premium.

A bigger problem is the form factor. The Mac Studio uses a tiny form factor SSD. Even if such NVMe drives worked with an adapter, 99% of them wouldn’t physically fit in the case. You’d have to source very small ones… or else be willing pay the OWC tax for their often mediocre quality custom models. Or, you could do what I did for my daughter’s MacBook Pro, and just buy a used Apple OEM drive. That avoids the compatibility and feature support issues. (For that Mac, form factor wasn’t an issue though.) For my Mac mini, I didn’t care about power usage for obvious reasons, so I went third party. See below for pix.

It should be noted though that Apple has in principle agreed to right-to-repair, which means you may be able to buy Apple drives for Mac Studio in the future. That would be the much better solution. You can already do this for the Mac Pro 2019.
I largely agree with your take on OWC, but they did acquire legit Taiwanese ODM Akitio a little while back, which should in theory bolster their engineering chops.

Also, I wanted to add that Apple actually pushed out a firmware update with the release of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 that fixed most of the sleep / wake from hibernation issues with third party NVMe SSDs. And if you don't necessarily want to upgrade your OS, you can even install Big Sur or later on an external drive and the machine will still get the firmware update. Choosing your own third party M.2 SSD and using a simple passive adapter is definitely the way to go. Because Apple always wanted to offer higher capacity SSD options, their proprietary form factors were larger than standard 2280 M.2 drives, so in-line adapters can be used to accommodate a wide range of M.2 SSDs.

Since the introduction of the T2 chip and continuing with the M1 family, there is a fundamental difference that many folks seem to overlook. Apple is using their own NVMe storage controller which was developed in-house. They first integrated the storage controller into the T2, which connected to the host via a PCIe Gen3 x4 link and had its own pool of LPDDR DRAM PoP stacked on top. With the M1 family, the storage controller is integrated into the SoC, connected directly to the system fabric, and shares the universal memory pool. The T2 and M series chips connect directly to standard NAND flash memory packages using what I believe is an ONFI 4.0 NV-DDR3 interface. In Macs of sufficient size, Apple has opted to place the NAND flash packages on separate modules. Those are not standalone SSDs, no RAID is involved when there is more than one present, and they are not using a PCIe NVMe interface to connect to the host. Could third parties build such modules? I don't see why not, but it's an awful lot of effort when the addressable market is so tiny.
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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I really can't see Apple supporting third party GPUs going forward, and I don't know how many PCIe cards remain that are important in the Mac Pro market.

Apple has been pretty clear they will not support 3rd party GPUs on Apple Silicon Macs.

Why would you need to use a third party GPU? The Mac Pro will have 2x the SoCs, increased memory bandwidth (due to M2 using LPDDR5X) and have more and better GPU cores. I would say 3x Mac Studio GPU performance is the lower bound, and its possible they might hit 4x. That should compare pretty favorably to discrete GPUs.
 
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Doug S

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I doubt you would be able to replace SSD to any non-Apple branded one, due to being firmware locked.

It isn't firmware locked, it is that Apple's "SSDs" are not SSDs. They are raw NAND - the controller is in the SoC. That's why it has to have a different connector, because you can't plug in a standard m.2 SSD that includes a controller into an interface that expects raw NAND.

I would imagine some third party might sell them eventually, though as a low volume product (if they are only supported in Mac Studio and later on Mac Pro) that's a pretty niche market so they probably won't be all that much less expensive than Apple's prices.

I will say that if I was in the market for a high end Mac, the thing I'd like best about this revelation is having two slots would allow you to mirror storage. I'd happily pay Apple's markup for a second "SSD" to be able to do that if I was spending thousands on a Mac Studio, or possibly tens of thousands on a Mac Pro. I've mirrored storage in my PC for almost 20 years now, after an incident of drive failure that almost cost me dearly.
 

Doug S

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How many people actually use expansion in a Mac Pro if you exclude the GPU? I'd wager very few. The Mac Studio likely covers 95% of the "Pro" market, if not more.

On another note, I ordered a Studio Display for my Macbook Pro. Looking to pick up the Mac Studio 20 core variant in the near future. If they do happen to do a refresh of the Mac Pro with even more cores, I may pick that up instead, depending on timing.

You do have expandability, not just internal expandability (beyond that second storage slot)

Those 80 Gbps TB4 ports on the Studio allow for a lot of high speed networking and external storage options. One has to really stretch to find some type of expansion they'd want to do that isn't possible on the Studio. The main complaint people are likely to come up with is that connecting it externally means a dongle (for networking) or more desk space (for external storage) but given that this appears to be Apple's replacement for the iMac Pro, it has improved on the expansion options of what came before.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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Because the gaming market ignores them (outside of mobile). It's a circle between the two; Apple could start to address it on their side by throwing a ton of money and resources at developing new APIs and funding game studios so that titles can be ported over, but you have to ask both Apple and the developers... how much of a market are they missing out on? How many people have a Mac, and NO other way of playing any games from these developers? If magically, tomorrow, all games from all devs were natively compatible on macOS, how many people would really choose a Mac vs a gaming PC? I would think about it, but only if Apple's GPUs can compete. What's Apple's impetus to spend all that time and money? What's the developers' drive to do the same?
No way of knowing this of course. I would be curious to know how many desktop systems Apple sells now. When I last checked Apple only had 12% of the market. That was back in 2018 though. Has that changed?

They don’t ignore it - its just not as high a priority for them as it is for the Win/x86 market. It’s a profitable business line for Apple, but still niche compared to the Windows OS market. If the Apple Mac line commanded 30% of the market - the game developers themselves would be knocking on Apple's door for better game support, and they themselves would better optimize their games for the metal GFX API.
Do you know what percentage Apple has in the desktop market now? I haven't checked in years, but you, or someone else here may know.
 

Doug S

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No way of knowing this of course. I would be curious to know how many desktop systems Apple sells now. When I last checked Apple only had 12% of the market. That was back in 2018 though. Has that changed?

Do you know what percentage Apple has in the desktop market now? I haven't checked in years, but you, or someone else here may know.


So looking at data from Canalys, Apple was running around 7% of the worldwide PC market (in unit shipments, obviously they're much higher if you measure by revenue) pre-pandemic and pre Apple Silicon, and was up to 8.5% last year despite the overall market growing by nearly 30% over the past two years thanks to businesses buying employee laptops and schools buying Chromebooks.

Apple sold nearly 10 million more Macs in 2021 than in 2019, but it is impossible to guess how much of that is a one time surge for similar reasons (people buying a Mac for work/school from home) or delayed upgrades from x86 Mac owners waiting to see if the ARM rumors were true. It will be interesting to see what the 2022 and 2023 numbers look like. Since overall PC sales will revert to pre-2020 levels (if not worse) if Apple were to be able to maintain their 2021 level of sales they'd exceed 10% of worldwide PC market share for the first time since probably the Apple II days.
 
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Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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So looking at data from Canalys, Apple was running around 7% of the worldwide PC market (in unit shipments, obviously they're much higher if you measure by revenue) pre-pandemic and pre Apple Silicon, and was up to 8.5% last year despite the overall market growing by nearly 30% over the past two years thanks to businesses buying employee laptops and schools buying Chromebooks.

Apple sold nearly 10 million more Macs in 2021 than in 2019, but it is impossible to guess how much of that is a one time surge for similar reasons (people buying a Mac for work/school from home) or delayed upgrades from x86 Mac owners waiting to see if the ARM rumors were true. It will be interesting to see what the 2022 and 2023 numbers look like. Since overall PC sales will revert to pre-2020 levels (if not worse) if Apple were to be able to maintain their 2021 level of sales they'd exceed 10% of worldwide PC market share for the first time since probably the Apple II days.
Good info!! Thanks!!!
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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M1 Ultra Blender

With M1 Ultra, hopefully we'll start seeing more OSS/FOSS benchmark comparisons with other CPUs/platforms instead of just, you know, the usual GeekBench 5 scores. Interesting that it's so close to a 3950X.

(also interesting that a 12900k sucks as much as it does)

Can we run linux on them yet?


. . . sort of.
 
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Jul 27, 2020
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(also interesting that a 12900k sucks as much as it does)
Almost everything above the 12900K has more threads with the exception of the M1 Ultra. But then the 20 cores of M1U have gobs more bandwidth. Wish Intel had made a 12995K with 16 lower clocked P-cores to be the rendering/DC champion. Guess they had other priorities.
 

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
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Some Power and performance numbers. Kind of looking like Apple went really conservative on the Mac Studio. Maybe some OS/firmware updates will get more out of the M1 Max & Ultra?


There are also some interesting rumors on the next M2 line of SoCs from the same channel. And some hints at what the Mac Pros might have under the hood. Insanely ambitious if true.

 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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Almost everything above the 12900K has more threads with the exception of the M1 Ultra.

Yeah but Zen2? A 12900k is in spitting distance of a 5950X in some MT workloads (see Cinebench R23). Also makes the M1 Ultra look kind of, you know, underwhelming. At least it does well in Cinebench. No it doesn't, not compared to some competitor's desktop CPUs.

@Ajay

Really looks like Apple is trying to keep those temps low.
 
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