Discussion Apple Silicon SoC thread

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repoman27

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Dec 17, 2018
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HDMI is no different from any other modern I/O specification that includes optional features (i.e. pretty much all of them), in that the specification version number alone can only indicate a baseline of functionality and not guarantee the full capabilities of a particular product or implementation. HDMI LA requires licensees to at least make an attempt to explain what optional features are supported if they choose to refer to the specification version number on product labels/markings, packaging, marketing and instructional materials, user manuals, online ads, websites or other related promotional materials. From the HDMI ATLUGs:
Since each version of the HDMI specification provides a set of potential capabilities and not a set of required functionalities, you shall... reference HDMI Specification version numbers only when clearly associating the version number with a feature or function as defined in that version of the HDMI Specification. You shall not use version numbers by themselves to define your product or component capabilities or the functionality of the HDMI interface.

For example, you shall not say that your product or component is 1.X or 2.X compliant, or that your product or component has 1.X or 2.X features or capabilities, without specifically listing some or all the 1.X or 2.X functionality that the product or component supports. Without indicating an HDMI version number, you may say that a product or component supports a particular feature as defined in the HDMI Specification.

If you use an HDMI Specification version number to describe your HDMI implementation, you shall clearly and explicitly identify some or all features or functions of that version of the HDMI Specification that are supported by your implementation.
Apple never mentions the HDMI version numbers in their marketing materials for the new M2 Macs; they simply list the display output capabilities of the various configurations. We can still infer plenty about the platform capabilities from what they do tell us, though.

The HDMI port on the M2 Mac mini does not support any of the new features added in versions 2.1 or 2.1a of the HDMI specification. However, the HDMI ports on the M2 Pro and M2 Max devices do support at least FRL and DSC, and possibly other features as well. Here's a full breakdown...

HDMI 2.1 features:
  • Fixed Rate Link (FRL) - yes
  • VESA Display Stream Compression 1.2a (DSC) - yes
  • High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection 2.3 (HDCP) - probably
  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) - no
  • Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) - no
  • Quick Frame Transport (QFT) - possibly
  • Quick Media Switching (QMS) - possibly
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) - probably
HDMI 2.1a features:
  • Source-Based Tone Mapping (SBTM) - probably not
If we dig a little deeper, we can see that the display output limitations of the Apple Silicon Macs arise from several areas unrelated to the PHYs. The quantity, capability, and configuration of both display pipelines in the GPU and the display controllers (DCPs) ultimately dictate what resolutions and refresh rates can be driven.

It looks like the M2 GPU only supports two display pipes—one with a maximum resolution of 5120 x 4096 and one with a maximum resolution of 6144 x 4096, same as the M1. For display output PHYs, the M2 has two Thunderbolt 4 (ATC) ports and one eDP port. The eDP port is connected to either the built-in panel or, in the case of the Mac mini, a discrete DP to HDMI protocol converter. While the ATC PHYs are essentially capable of UHBR20 signaling, the DCP appears to be limited to HBR2 output. The DP to HDMI PCON used in the M2 Mac mini is only capable of TMDS signaling and is likely the same part used for the M1 generation machines. The one party piece the M2 brings to the table is that the DISP0 pipe is no longer tied to the eDP port and is now routable to the ATC ports as well, making the Type-C ports on the M2 Mac mini Thunderbolt 4 compliant. In theory this could also make it possible for the M2 MacBooks to support two external displays when the lid is closed and the built-in panel is not in use (i.e. in "clamshell" mode).

The M2 Pro GPU can manage three display pipes, and it looks like the maximum resolutions might be one at 5120 x 4096 and two at 7680 x 4096. From what I could glean from ioreg, I believe the M1 Pro supported 3 pipes at 7680 x 4096, so possibly a slight (albeit inconsequential) regression there. Meanwhile the M2 Max supports five display pipes, at least four of which have maximum resolutions of 7680 x 4096. The M2 Pro and M2 Max both sport four ATC PHYs and one eDP port. The eDP port is once again connected to either the built-in panel or a DP to HDMI protocol converter chip in the M2 Pro Mac mini. Since eDP is taken by the built-in panel in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros, the HDMI PCON is connected to one of the ATC ports instead. The PCON chip used with the M2 Pro and M2 Max machines is capable of HDMI 2.1 FRL and DSC. Although DISP0 appears to be restricted to the eDP PHY for the M2 Pro, the full-size pipes are now routable to the eDP port as well. The DCP blocks on the M2 Pro and M2 Max are HBR3 capable, although outputting above HBR2 bandwidth levels appears to require two full-size (7680 x 4096) display pipes.

Here's a list of supported resolutions grouped to illustrate the bandwidth dependencies...

Single 5120 x 4096 pipe:
  • MacBook Air built-in panel: 2560 x 1664, 60 Hz, 30 bpp = 8.135 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR)
  • Apple Studio Display: 5120 x 2880, 60 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 11.090 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch) built-in panel: 3456 x 2234, 120 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 12.042 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2)
  • 4K UHD at 60 Hz: 3840 x 2160, 60 Hz, 24 bpp = 12.543 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2 / HDMI TMDS)
Single 6144 x 4096 or 7680 x 4096 pipe:
  • Pro Display XDR: 6016 x 3384, 60 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 15.279 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2)
  • 4K UHD at 144 Hz: 3840 x 2160, 144 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 15.674 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2 / HDMI FRL)
  • Dell UltraSharp 32 6K Monitor (U3224KB): 6144 x 3456, 60 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 15.931 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR2)
Dual 7680 x 4096 pipes:
  • 4K UHD at 240 Hz: 3840 x 2160, 240 Hz, DSC 10 bpp = 22.852 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR3 / HDMI FRL)
  • 8K UHD at 60 Hz: 7680 x 4320, 60 Hz, DSC 12 bpp = 24.824 Gbit/s (DisplayPort HBR3 / HDMI FRL)
Going by the die images provided by Apple, it looks like the DCP blocks received a considerable overhaul between the M1 and M2 generations, despite the relatively modest differences reflected on the spec sheets. It's notable that the maximum display output width on the M1 and M2 is 6144 pixels, which is slightly higher than the Pro Display XDR at 6016 pixels, but also just enough to accommodate the new Dell U3224KB. Now that macOS is FRL aware, USB Type-C to HDMI 2.1 dongles should finally work, and in theory that should allow M-series Max and Ultra Macs to drive up to two 8K UHD displays at 60 Hz.
 
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eek2121

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The Mac Mini with M2 Pro is a bit overpriced IMO. To get 32gb of RAM and a 12 core CPU you are looking at $2,000, the same price as a Mac Studio. I suspect this means we will be looking at price increases when the Studio is updated.
 
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Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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The Mac Mini with M2 Pro is a bit overpriced IMO. To get 32gb of RAM and a 12 core CPU you are looking at $2,000, the same price as a Mac Studio. I suspect this means we will be looking at price increases when the Studio is updated.
I suspect the M2 Max Mac Studio will stay the same price in the US and Canada. Prices will increase in Europe and elsewhere though, due to the currency exchange rates.

It should be noted that the M2 Pro top tier Mac mini is actually faster than the M1 Max Mac Studio, for CPU at least. Plus, the most interesting M2 Pro Mac mini is the one with the base model SoC, IMHO.

Anyhow, some benchmarks are trickling out, now that the review embargo has been lifted.


Geekbench 5:

Screenshot 2023-01-23 at 12.55.02 PM.png

Cinebench:

Screenshot 2023-01-23 at 12.55.19 PM.png

Screenshot 2023-01-23 at 12.54.40 PM.png

Screen recording export to ProRes 4:2:2:

56 s - 16-core Intel Mac Pro with Vega 2 Duo
32 s - M1 Max MacBook Pro
23 s - M2 Max MacBook Pro
 

guidryp

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Apr 3, 2006
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The Mac Mini with M2 Pro is a bit overpriced IMO. To get 32gb of RAM and a 12 core CPU you are looking at $2,000, the same price as a Mac Studio. I suspect this means we will be looking at price increases when the Studio is updated.
Moving from the M2 mini to M2 Pro (with same ram/storage) is a fairly good deal.

$300 more gets you:

Significantly more CPU.
Significantly more GPU.
Double Memory BW.
Double TB ports, and more display support.

Moving up to the upgraded CPU (12 core) upgrade on the M2 Pro is poor deal.

$300 more gets you:

A bit more CPU.
A bit more GPU.

Don't waste money on this upgrade. If you are tempted to fully upgrade the Mini, wait for the M2 Studio.
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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The Mac Mini with M2 Pro is a bit overpriced IMO. To get 32gb of RAM and a 12 core CPU you are looking at $2,000, the same price as a Mac Studio. I suspect this means we will be looking at price increases when the Studio is updated.
Apple has always had some overlap between the highest spec lower end harder and lowest spec higher end hardware. That's how you keep the market covered with a relatively small number of products.

You see the same thing with the highest spec 512 GB iPhone 14 priced the same as the lowest spec 128 GB iPhone 14 Pro Max.

I'm sure if I hadn't slept through too many marketing classes when I was getting my MBA I could recall the name of the theory this is exploiting - pushing people towards "well I might as well consider the higher end product since I'm already looking at spending that much!"
 

q52

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Jan 18, 2023
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HDMI 2.1 doesn’t mean much in itself because any new product that is HDMI 2.0 complaint is now officially called HDMI 2.1. HDMI 2.0 no longer exists.


For example, the M2 Mac mini only supports 4K 60 Hz over HDMI. In fact, neither my M1 Mac mini nor the new M2 Mac mini can support a 3840x2560 monitor at 60 Hz using HDMI.

In contrast, the M2 Pro Mac mini supports 4K 240 Hz or 8K 60 Hz over HDMI.

I have my 4k 60Hz monitor plugged into my M1 MacBook Air via the USB-C -> HDMI adapter, is that not the same thing?
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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I have my 4k 60Hz monitor plugged into my M1 MacBook Air via the USB-C -> HDMI adapter, is that not the same thing?
I'm not sure what you're getting at.

I was just saying that going forward, due to the change in naming rules, any HDMI device that meets the old HDMI 2.0 standard should now be officially called HDMI 2.1, even if it doesn't have any of the new features introduced with HDMI 2.1.

IOW, having a new 2023 device labelled as HDMI 2.1 is meaningless, because it doesn't necessarily mean it has any new features over the old HDMI 2.0 standard.

As for 4K 60 Hz, that is the old HDMI 2.0 standard.

For more information, I would direct you to @repoman27's post above.

Apple never mentions the HDMI version numbers in their marketing materials for the new M2 Macs; they simply list the display output capabilities of the various configurations. We can still infer plenty about the platform capabilities from what they do tell us, though.
Interestingly, they specifically call the Apple TV 4K HDMI 2.1, even though it is limited to 4K 60 Hz. The only new 2.1 feature it supports is eARC (although IIRC some older 2.0 devices actually already supported eARC).
 
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Mopetar

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Moving from the M2 mini to M2 Pro (with same ram/storage) is a fairly good deal.

$300 more gets you:

Significantly more CPU.
Significantly more GPU.
Double Memory BW.
Double TB ports, and more display support.

Moving up to the upgraded CPU (12 core) upgrade on the M2 Pro is poor deal.

$300 more gets you:

A bit more CPU.
A bit more GPU.

Don't waste money on this upgrade. If you are tempted to fully upgrade the Mini, wait for the M2 Studio.
Pretty standard Apple product stack.

Entry level option that's not great for most users, particularly true for the more tech savvy sort who will find some aspect of what's on offer extremely limiting. Like 8 GB of RAM.

Mid-range model where you pay for an upgrade that doesn't cost Apple anywhere near what they charge you, but is so much better than the entry level that most people bite.

Top-end model that has another, similar price bump but doesn't offer much value over the mid-range option. It makes most people feel really great about the mid-range choice and gives people with extra money a way to spend it.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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M2 Pro Mac mini teardown is out, from Luke Miani:


For reference:

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 8.42.28 PM.png

2023 M2 Pro Mac mini has a noticeably larger motherboard compared to M1. Heatsink is also larger, and fan is pushed further back to accommodate the larger heatsink.

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 8.42.50 PM.png

Motherboard removed. That big black rectangle is the heatsink cover. Interestingly, the heatsink under it is black anodized, even though it's not visible to the user.

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 8.45.46 PM.png

Heatsink, motherboard, and heatsink cover (which holds the heatsink on).

Screenshot 2023-01-24 at 8.53.45 PM.png

There is room for 8 SSD chips, 4 on the front (top left) and 4 on the back.

---

M2 Pro Mac mini teardown from MacStadium:


6af691ad-6e58-4079-9845-742b7fbb0b8f_M2_LogicBoard_M1_LogicBoard.jpeg

M2 Pro power supply is 185 Watts (2.5 A).
M1 power supply is 150 Watts (2 A).
 
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repoman27

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Dec 17, 2018
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Some random thoughts about the new M2 Macs...

The M2 now has six PCIe Gen4 lanes (up from five on the M1), two lanes are dedicated to the integrated NVMe storage controller (ANS), and four are general purpose.

The M2 Pro and M2 Max ditched the not-quite-a-Thunderbolt USB Type-C port, making room for four additional PCIe lanes. They now have a total of 16 PCIe Gen4 lanes (up from 12 for the M1 generation), eight of which are dedicated to the ANS and eight of which are general purpose. That means an M2 Ultra Mac Pro could have at least one PCIe Gen4 x8 slot, or possibly two if the lanes can be decoupled from the unused ANS on the second die. Of course PCIe switches could also be used to support additional slots, but I'm not sure there's much point, especially considering the expense.

The M2 Pro is using four single-stack x64 LPDDR5 packages rather than two dual-stack x128 packages. This probably helps Apple lower the cost on the M2 Pro, as the smaller packages are probably less expensive to produce and much higher volume regardless. I'm pretty sure they're more area efficient as well, allowing Apple to save on substrate and packaging costs. I noticed that the integrated heat spreader is no longer cut out to accommodate the SDRAM packages, so the single-stacks may be slightly shorter as well. I could possibly see a future where they use dual-rank, dual-stack x64 packages, which would enable the same RAM capacities for the Pro as the Max, but I think Apple is fine with the segmentation working out the way it does.

The M2 mini (non-Pro) does use the same Kinetic Technologies - MegaChips MCDP2920A4 DisplayPort 1.4 to HDMI 2.0b protocol converter that was used fo the M1 Macs with HDMI ports.

The M2 mini has made the switch from Intel Thunderbolt 4 retimers to Apple designed chips.

The USB3 Type-A ports on the new minis are no longer using the Parade - Fresco Logic FL1100 PCIe Gen2 x1 to 2-Port USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 host controller and have moved to an ASMedia controller. I couldn't read the exact package markings in any of the teardowns, but it's probably an ASM3042, which is a PCIe Gen3 x1 to 2-Port USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 xHCI. That would significantly increase the bandwidth on the back-end and reduce the oversubscription to virtually nil for those two ports. It would have been nicer still to see an ASM3142 controller instead, providing a pair of 10Gbps Type-A ports, but whatever.

The Wi-Fi 6E module is from USI and is a 2x2:2 solution that can use 160 MHz channels on the 6 GHz band for a link rate of up to 2400 Mbit/s. It is still limited to 80 MHz channels on the 5 GHz band (good for 1200 Mbit/s), and the rather conservative link rate of 195 Mbit/s on the 2.4 GHz band (20 MHz channels, 256-QAM encoding, 3200 ns guard interval). I'm not sure that 6 GHz spectrum is going to be the salvation it's hyped to be any time soon due to FRC requirements. Sharing the exact location of every client with either Qualcomm or Facebook/Cisco/Broadcom in order to use standard power APs doesn't sound awesome to me. I'm also bummed that wider channels have trumped more spatial streams as a way to increase link rates. Every time you double the channel width you double the noise as well, resulting in a lower SNR and reduced range, whereas adding spatial streams gives you 3 dB of MIMO gain. Narrower channels also allow much better spectrum reuse in dense deployments or pretty much any suburban to urban environment these days.

The PSUs are still made by LITE-ON. I'm not sure why the MacStadium blog mentioned the input current, but the output ratings are 14.7 A @ 12.6 V = 185 W for the M2 Pro Mac mini and 12.5 A @ 12 V = 150 W for the M2 Mac mini. Looks like both PSUs are roughly 80 Plus Platinum equivalent.

And because the Accidental Tech Podcast guys seem to debate this with some regularity, according to Apple's power consumption and thermal output information, the M2 at max CPU load will put out 171 BTU/h or 50 W of waste heat. The M2 Pro will dump up to 358 BTU/h or 105 W. For comparison, the M1 Max in the Mac Studio can put out 392 BTU/h or 115 W, and the M1 Ultra goes up to 734 BTU/h or 215 W. Granted the MacBook Pro parts are probably binned for lower leakage and still somewhat thermally limited by the chassis cooling capabilities, but the TDP of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is still probably around 65-85 W and the 16-inch closer to 85-95 W.

edit: Oh, and the NAND in the new minis is not modular. Although that was to be expected, it would have been a nice surprise to see it on modules, like in the Studio.
 
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Eug

Lifer
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Luke says that the M2 Max MacBook Pro is running consistently hotter than the M1 Max. However, it is not thermal throttling in CPU benches. As usual, Apple seems to be prioritizing (lack of) fan noise over CPU temps, while maintaining full performance.

In his back-to-back repeated Cinebench tests, the M2 Max is very hot at >100C, but fans remain quiet. However, if he manually sets the fan speed at full, the M2 Max will run relatively cool at ~75C, but the performance is exactly the same.
 
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Doug S

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Luke says that the M2 Max MacBook Pro is running consistently hotter than the M1 Max. However, it is not thermal throttling in CPU benches. As usual, Apple seems to be prioritizing (lack of) fan noise over CPU temps, while maintaining full performance.

In his back-to-back repeated Cinebench tests, the M2 Max is very hot at >100C, but fans remain quiet. However, if he manually sets the fan speed at full, the M2 Max will run relatively cool at ~75C, but the performance is exactly the same.
One would assume they know very well the temperatures at which it can safely operate, so I don't think the temperature of the SoC matters much so long as you don't reach in and touch it!

Intel and AMD CPUs throttle at higher temperatures than they used to, the only difference is that if you provide them additional cooling beyond stock you can wring out more performance. Maybe Apple will introduce some sort of temperature dependent performance scaling down the road. That would not have been a priority in getting Apple Silicon off the ground, but maybe by the M3 or M4 generation they'll have enough other stuff crossed off the to-do list they decide to tackle that.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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No idea why Apple still sell the Mac Pro, the CPU's are half a decade old at this point. The GPU's are outdated too. Sucker born every minute i guess.
For the same reason they sold the Intel Mac mini until this month. There are some people who are still absolutely dependent upon Intel based workflows. However, you can be sure the Intel Mac Pro will be discontinued this year.

Not many people are buying the Intel Mac Pro now anyway though. Certainly, the used market for high end Intel Mac Pros completely cratered a while back. I remember checking eBay last year for Mac Pros over US$10000, and for the several month period I checked, there were exactly ZERO sold. Furthermore, the trade-in prices for the top end Intel Mac Pros are now about 1/50th of the new price. 1/50th!
 

poke01

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Mar 8, 2022
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Oh, and the NAND in the new minis is not modular. Although that was to be expected, it would have been a nice surprise to see it on modules, like in the Studio
The M2 Pro Mac mini can go up to 8TB SSD and there is plenty of space for socketed NAND drives. Doing so in a desktop is plain stupid and shows that Apple does not care about data safety at all.

Please don't talk about backups, thats not an excuse to solder the SSD Apple!!.( This is Apples defence)

More e-waste design from Apple cause if the internal SSD dies the Mac is a dead product and NO you can't boot from an external SSD on AS Macs in the future if the internal SSD dies.




Anyone can that can defend this behavior?


Sorry for the rant but great job on the the analysis.
 
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Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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Where will those people go say in 10 years if Intel is needed for them?

PC I suppose
I'm guessing here, but this is my 2¢:

Apple silicon came out in 2020. It's been ~2.5 years now, which is enough time for macOS software to be well on its way for migration over to Apple Silicon. Plus, stuff purchased in 2022 will have another 3-5 years of hardware support on Apple's AppleCare business support plans. That takes us to 2025 and beyond.

If mission critical macOS software hasn't been migrated to work on Apple Silicon by 2025 (even with the help of Rosetta 2), then there's a good chance it will never be migrated to Apple Silicon, so yeah this small group of users may have to look to other solutions at that point.
 

guidryp

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Apr 3, 2006
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For the same reason they sold the Intel Mac mini until this month. There are some people who are still absolutely dependent upon Intel based workflows.
Mission critical Intel SW that couldn't run under Rosetta, but was totally fine on an old Intel chip with only Intel IGPU?

Just your guess, we have no idea why the Intel Mini lingered.
 
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Lifer
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Mission critical Intel SW that couldn't run under Rosetta, but was totally fine on an old Intel chip with only Intel IGPU?

Just your guess, we have no idea why the Intel Mini lingered.
We have real world examples of that, that don't require the GPU. One example of this is music production plug-ins.

While the main software applications were migrated to Apple Silicon, some third party-plugins were not, and they did not work via Rosetta either.

And yes, the Mac mini is extremely popular for music production.

I'm assuming they had inventory built up that didn't sell through as fast as originally planned.
Very, very unlikely. Tim Cook's original claim to fame is just-in-time inventory management.

 
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guidryp

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Very, very unlikely. Tim Cook's original claim to fame is just-in-time inventory management.

JIT Inventory, doesn't mean they didn't sign long term contracts that obligate them to buy a certain amount.

It's a near certainty that they signed big long term contracts to get good volume discounts.
 

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