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Solved! ARM Apple High-End CPU - Intel replacement

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beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
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MacBook Air quad-core i5
512 GB storage
Retina screen with True Tone
8 GB RAM
Magic Keyboard with Force Touch trackpad
Touch ID
Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
US$1299

Lol for that you pay about $500 in the PC space. 8 GB RAM in 2020 for over $1000? that's just insane why anybody would pay that. You get a 6-core AMD with 16 GB RAM and 512 SSD for around $800.

Why take the risk when you could be dominating the headlines with stories of how your A14X takes the competition to the cleaners?
See above. If they keep current pricing the will need a powerful SOC to be equal in perfromance at same price level. Talking the competition to the cleaners will be difficult at their current pricing.
 

name99

Senior member
Sep 11, 2010
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Lol for that you pay about $500 in the PC space. 8 GB RAM in 2020 for over $1000? that's just insane why anybody would pay that. You get a 6-core AMD with 16 GB RAM and 512 SSD for around $800.



See above. If they keep current pricing the will need a powerful SOC to be equal in perfromance at same price level. Talking the competition to the cleaners will be difficult at their current pricing.
These are both silly analyses because, in both cases, things with the same names are being considered the same object.
Yes, the Magic Keyboard is a keyboard. But you are not paying for the "keyboardness", you are paying for the "magicness", the ability to tear it off from the iPad when you don't want it, and put it back when you do want it. And to do this very easily in a way that truly does feel magical.
If that functionality is not present (laptops) then it's not part of the cost.

There are other ways to try to achieve the same functionality (the earlier Apple iPad keyboards, "bendable foldable" Windows PCs). People don't consider them magical and don't rave about them.

Likewise one screen is not another screen. If you don't care about screen quality (along with all the trimmings, from color correctness to high-dpi and HDR, to 120Hz) that's fine. But let's not pretend that the bare-bones screen without them is the same as the iPad Pro screen and Apple is simply screwing over its customers.

Even something as basic as a battery is not identical across products. Yes you can buy$500 laptops; I've bought many of them. But again let's not pretend that their batteries start off with the duration of Apple's batteries, or that they last as long.

And don't claim that a $500 laptop has 2x Thunderbolt3, that's just nonsense. I look at BestBuy right now and every laptop I saw in the $500 range (even the refurbs) has only USB3-A ports, not even USB-C, let alone TB3.
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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Lol for that you pay about $500 in the PC space. 8 GB RAM in 2020 for over $1000? that's just insane why anybody would pay that. You get a 6-core AMD with 16 GB RAM and 512 SSD for around $800.
It's the price you pay to not have to deal with Windows 10. The base model is #4 on Amazon's best sellers list right now.

You do get a 1600p screen.
 

awesomedeluxe

Member
Feb 12, 2020
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See above. If they keep current pricing the will need a powerful SOC to be equal in perfromance at same price level. Talking the competition to the cleaners will be difficult at their current pricing.
I'm not sure what you mean - in that context I'm describing a scenario where the Air has an SoC with 4 perf cores and 8 GPU cores. I don't think either Intel or AMD has a part that could provide better performance at any price.
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
4,594
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And don't claim that a $500 laptop has 2x Thunderbolt3, that's just nonsense. I look at BestBuy right now and every laptop I saw in the $500 range (even the refurbs) has only USB3-A ports, not even USB-C, let alone TB3.
Your replying to a post about the Macbook air pricing about how cool the iPad pro is and only these 2 lats sentences are actual relevant to my post that compared Macbook air prices to windows laptops.
Yeah they don't have thunderbolt ports but USB ports which are good enough for the target audience and the hardware. Why would I be satisfied with 8 GB RAM but need 2 Thunderbolt ports? I don't know. For sure a niche use-case. Same with USB-C. Why would I need it? most peripherals like mouse wireless dongles, usb stick, external harddisk are still USB-A. I rather have a network port and HDMI/DP.

You would have an actual point if you mentioned size and weight.
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
4,594
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It's the price you pay to not have to deal with Windows 10. The base model is #4 on Amazon's best sellers list right now.

You do get a 1600p screen.
You can load Linux on the windows laptop if it's about the OS. So that argument doesn't really count. You could say you really like OSX but then well that's subjective and mostly a matter of experience.

True, I don't value a 1600p screen in such a device. (it's even more ridiculous in smartphones). You will need "dpi scaling" anyway or else the fonts will be unreadable small. You get some more sharpness but not more screen real-estate. With the laptop undocked I may do some email or looking at power points or some web browsing, I don't ever really do actual work undocked. a single 13 screen is way too small for getting anything complex done efficiently. Hence for the things were a good screen actually matters (not email obviously), I wouldn't be using the devices screen anyway.

The base model being #4 on Amazon makes some sense as if you want a "cheap", light OSX laptop, that's your only choice. In windows you have >100 choices hence it's distributes over many devices.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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DigiTimes is claiming Arm MacBook Pros and Arm Macbook Airs in 2020.


Taiwan's supply chain will kick off shipments in third-quarter 2020 of related parts and components such as backlit units (BLUs) for next-generation MacBook and iPad products slated for launch in the latter half of the year, driving the suppliers' revenue growth, according to industry sources.

As Apple is set to release 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, powered by Apple Silicon, by the end of this year, total shipments of MacBook lineup are expected to reach 16-17 million units in 2020 compared to 14.5-15.5 million units shipped a year earlier, the sources estimated.

Sales prospects for the new 10.8-inch iPad devices are also bright as the new lineup, which feature high performance CPUs, will be available at more affordable prices, the sources indicated.

Taiwan's BLU supplier Radiant Opto-Electronics is ready to ship BLUs for both the new MacBook and iPad devices, while panel makers including LG Display, BOE Technology and Sharp will supply panels for the iPad, the sources said.
 

name99

Senior member
Sep 11, 2010
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Your replying to a post about the Macbook air pricing about how cool the iPad pro is and only these 2 lats sentences are actual relevant to my post that compared Macbook air prices to windows laptops.
Yeah they don't have thunderbolt ports but USB ports which are good enough for the target audience and the hardware. Why would I be satisfied with 8 GB RAM but need 2 Thunderbolt ports? I don't know. For sure a niche use-case. Same with USB-C. Why would I need it? most peripherals like mouse wireless dongles, usb stick, external harddisk are still USB-A. I rather have a network port and HDMI/DP.

You would have an actual point if you mentioned size and weight.
If you want to say "a mac (or *this* mac) is an inappropriate choice for my needs, compared to a $500 PC" go right ahead. But that's not what you said; you said
[list of hardware]
"for that you pay about $500 in the PC space"

That claim, that you can get that list of HW for $500 in the PC space is simply incorrect. And it's not just trivially incorrect, what you will get for your $500 is actually rather different hardware.

No-one cares if you prefer PCs to macs. But you're not helping anyone by making silly claims about the equivalence of clearly inequivalent hardware. Would you be happy if I said that Optane is clearly an Intel scam because I can get a flash SSD for way cheaper than an Optane SSD?
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
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But you're not helping anyone by making silly claims about the equivalence of clearly inequivalent hardware. Would you be happy if I said that Optane is clearly an Intel scam because I can get a flash SSD for way cheaper than an Optane SSD?
The core hardware (CPU, RAM, SSD) is equivalnet so in terms of performance that $500 laptop will do just as well as the macbook air. The mac has the better display and a thunderbolt controller. Good if you need it but who buys a dual-core with 8 GB RAM but absolutely needs thunderbolt ports? Very niche market. Plus everything else I said. Again, the macbook air probably has an advantage in size and weight. That counts IMHO much more than the display or thunderbolt.

And yes optane mostly is a "scam" as an ssd for a consumer. "Scam" as you almost certainly neither need it nor profit from it like you won't from the Thunderbolt ports or USB-C. You would need to be a very niche user to notice any advanatge outisde of benchmarks vs a nvme ssd. In fact I just recently update from my very old build SATA ssd on SATA2! to nvme ssd. Can't say I notice much difference in normal usage.
 

name99

Senior member
Sep 11, 2010
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The core hardware (CPU, RAM, SSD) is equivalnet so in terms of performance that $500 laptop will do just as well as the macbook air. The mac has the better display and a thunderbolt controller. Good if you need it but who buys a dual-core with 8 GB RAM but absolutely needs thunderbolt ports? Very niche market. Plus everything else I said. Again, the macbook air probably has an advantage in size and weight. That counts IMHO much more than the display or thunderbolt.

And yes optane mostly is a "scam" as an ssd for a consumer. "Scam" as you almost certainly neither need it nor profit from it like you won't from the Thunderbolt ports or USB-C. You would need to be a very niche user to notice any advanatge outisde of benchmarks vs a nvme ssd. In fact I just recently update from my very old build SATA ssd on SATA2! to nvme ssd. Can't say I notice much difference in normal usage.
Why do you assume that the cost (and the experience) is determined by the three items you list? Those are essentially the most commodity'ish of the components of a laptop.
That's like saying that a Lexus should cost the same as a Camry because they both use the same tyres.

Like most of America these days, you seem to imagine that the world revolves around you and exists solely to serve your needs.
The issue is NOT whether you (or your image of the median consumer) get value for money from a Macbook, or from Optane. The issue is that
- some people do (or do you believe that all those benchmarks as to how Optane provides value for enterprise are all faked, and the enterprise buyers are all fools)
- it's neither your job nor your right to tell other people where they should be seeing value in their technology. If you see a woman wearing a $1500 St Johns suit, do you tell her that she could get the same thing from Tahari in $400? Or do you perhaps consider that maybe she knows more about clothing than you do, and can see the differences between the two garments to which you are blind?

Looking at your previous posts you have, for example, insisted on buying 2.5G ethernet. You want people to come by and tell you that you were a fool for doing so, that no-one needs 2.5G ethernet? Likewise you have complained about phones without wireless charging. I can honestly tell you that I have never felt any particular need for wireless charging -- are you going to consider that a valid commentary on what you should be buying?

If you want to rant about how much you hate Macs, or how anyone is a fool for buying them, I can't stop you. But don't pretend you're engaged in an engineering discussion, and don't be surprised when the adults on this forum choose to ignore you.

Discussions about engineering are fine.
Discussions about how people should be using or choosing technology? Count me out.
 
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Doug S

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I second that - too many people look at how THEY use PCs or phones, or how THEY decide what to purchase and are either dumb enough to think most people think the same as they do or arrogant enough to think that everyone should think the same as they do.

I don't care about 2.5G ethernet. Even if I was able to get gigabit fiber at home (and was willing to pay more for it rather than a more modest speed that would fulfill all my needs and then some like 300 or 500 Mbps) I wouldn't care about 2.5G ethernet.

I also don't care about wireless charging, even though I'm on my second phone that supports it I've never charged it wirelessly and have no reason to buy the means to do so. Heck, the iPhone 11 pro max I bought last fall came with a faster charger (18W I think?) which I haven't taken out of the box. I'm still using an older 5W charger. Why? Because I charge it every other night while I sleep. I don't need it to charge in an hour, it takes a lot longer than an hour to charge ME.

Other people will consider fast charging or wireless charging a must have, and think things I insist on (like having a 16 or 17 inch screen on my laptop) as useless to them.
 

soresu

Golden Member
Dec 19, 2014
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I don't care about 2.5G ethernet. Even if I was able to get gigabit fiber at home (and was willing to pay more for it rather than a more modest speed that would fulfill all my needs and then some like 300 or 500 Mbps) I wouldn't care about 2.5G ethernet.
Most people wouldn't ever make use of it, especially the gamers that are more likely to buy the many AMD x570 motherboards that have it vs the TRX40 boards which are more likely to be used by creators who might make use of it in a home or small office ethernet scenario.

For purely internet routing needs very few people would have the kind of connection that could saturate 1 gb ethernet networks.

2.5 gbe+ is definitely not for basic consumers or gamers at all, unless N BASE T has some uber latency optimisations in the spec I don't know about, finer points of comms specs are tedious to read through so I don't know much beyond speeds and cable types for BASE T standards and I could be missing something there.

That being said as someone who is on a home ethernet I do think 1 gb ethernet is ready to die, even a HDD can more than saturate it in bursts when transferring files, and a SATA III SSD can go much further than that, that's why QNAP are pushing 2.5G by making their own 5 port switch to use with their NAS boxes.

Edit: kinda proved myself wrong a bit there, people using 2.5G NAS boxes might use it, and they might not necessarily be creators or other professionals, just people backing up files to a home NAS.

Edit 2, edit harder: Including backing up large amounts of game files....
 
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Doug S

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That being said as someone who is on a home ethernet I do think 1 gb ethernet is ready to die,
Well sure, just like 100baseT was the standard and you had to buy a PCI card to get gigabit, then gigabit became standard on higher end machines, then it became standard on all but the bottom feeder machines, and now it is pretty much impossible to buy anything with 100baseT anymore. The same will happen to gigabit. The same will happen to 2.5GbE too, someday 10GbaseT will push it out.

Heck I'm old enough to have been around when 10baseT was all there was, and you only had hubs not switches. I remember seeing a 10baseT switch for the first time, had 16 ports and cost something like $20,000 lol
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
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Why do you assume that the cost (and the experience) is determined by the three items you list? Those are essentially the most commodity'ish of the components of a laptop.
That's like saying that a Lexus should cost the same as a Camry because they both use the same tyres.
Commodity or not, it what defines the performance level of the laptop and yes these 3 parts are pretty essential for a snappy feeling of the device. You wouldn't buy a device with a dual-core ARM A55, a 5400rpm hdd and 4gb RAM because it has this great screen and 10 thunderbolt ports would you?

Like most of America these days, you seem to imagine that the world revolves around you and exists solely to serve your needs.
it's neither your job nor your right to tell other people where they should be seeing value in their technology.
So if you run out of argument you go for the personal attack, understood. It's telling you call people egoistic while at the same time assuming everyone is from US. Given you spend hours going through my post history (I feel a little creeped out now actually) you should probably have noticed given the timing that I'm probably not from the US.

Looking at your previous posts you have, for example, insisted on buying 2.5G ethernet. You want people to come by and tell you that you were a fool for doing so, that no-one needs 2.5G ethernet? Likewise you have complained about phones without wireless charging. I can honestly tell you that I have never felt any particular need for wireless charging -- are you going to consider that a valid commentary on what you should be buying?
Interesting. Where did I insist on buying 2.5G Ethernet? I found this post from myself:

I don't need Wifi or 2.5g Ethernet (or 2 ports). Have 2 ports now, never used the second one, all switches are 1 gbit.
Which is exactly the opposite of what you claim. Plus the same thread has more posts where I'm saying the same thing. Only thing "pro 2.5G" I'm saying is that it's a lot cheaper than 5 or 10GBit ethernet while for consumer use not having any serious downside. So exactly same logic as with the macbook air actually. See not everyone has money to throw away. thats the background and saving on the screen is better than saving on the core hardware. and here it' sbetter to save on the network than the devices connected to it. etc. optimizing what you get for your money.

EDIT: and for wireless charging I was actually saying once again the same thing. If you charge a certain price I expect certain features. So no wireless charging in a $800 phone is a joke. Like a dual-core in a $900 device is a joke.

If you want to rant about how much you hate Macs, or how anyone is a fool for buying them, I can't stop you. But don't pretend you're engaged in an engineering discussion, and don't be surprised when the adults on this forum choose to ignore you.

Discussions about engineering are fine.
Discussions about how people should be using or choosing technology? Count me out.
it's neither your job nor your right to tell other people which discussion are fine and which are not.

It's funny how you do exactly what you tell others not to do. I never attacked you personally or in any other way made the discussion personal.
 
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RasCas99

Junior Member
May 18, 2020
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The core hardware (CPU, RAM, SSD) is equivalnet so in terms of performance that $500 laptop will do just as well as the macbook air. The mac has the better display and a thunderbolt controller. Good if you need it but who buys a dual-core with 8 GB RAM but absolutely needs thunderbolt ports? Very niche market. Plus everything else I said. Again, the macbook air probably has an advantage in size and weight. That counts IMHO much more than the display or thunderbolt.

And yes optane mostly is a "scam" as an ssd for a consumer. "Scam" as you almost certainly neither need it nor profit from it like you won't from the Thunderbolt ports or USB-C. You would need to be a very niche user to notice any advanatge outisde of benchmarks vs a nvme ssd. In fact I just recently update from my very old build SATA ssd on SATA2! to nvme ssd. Can't say I notice much difference in normal usage.
"The core hardware (CPU, RAM, SSD) is equivalnet so in terms of performance that $500 laptop will do just as well as the macbook air."
But you really arent making much sense , those 500$ laptops are not "PC space" , there are much better laptops that sports similar "internals" (which of course aside from Intel monopoly vary greatly) in the PC world , which sell really well , because build quality/materials matters , trackpad quality matters , reliability matters , Display quality matters , hinge and balance quality matters , we can also discuss the SSD quality , but thats a different topic.

"Like a dual-core in a $900 device is a joke. " - this is where you fall on your face with this discussion , this is EXACTLY why they are leaving Intel behind , they cannot put a better CPU in this chassis without compromising the design of the machine , this is not a tower desktop that cares only about perf , this is a thin laptop that cares about perf/watt , lets revisit your your review of the Machine once it gets the AS , note that the 4 core is struggling with thermals in the Air , so its not such a simple "dual core is a joke" statement if you consider what this Machine tries to do.
 

coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
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The irony of praising Air's screen as major selling point when it had a sub-par screen for multiple years is priceless and shows just how uninspired this "don't tell me what people want in a computing device" idea really is. The Air changed massively over the years in terms of what it offers, yet it still caters to the same consumer group.

In the first years of existence the Air did something incredible in the market: it beat the thin and light PC in... value. Windows based laptops simply couldn't properly match the features of the Air at similar price points, it took them quite a while to adjust. So remember that, the Air made it's name based on convenience and value. Not ultra-rich screens, not ultra-performance, not ultra-connectivity. Just imagine dismissing that value Air had based on screen quality or the connectivity it obviously lacked in many iterations.

Devices offer a set of features for a certain price. If it's not obvious that these can be readily converted into value for the consumer, then maybe we should just stick to commenting tech like we comment fashion, in which case this entire thread based on evaluating the value of ARM in consumer Apple devices is pointless. If we like Intel, we should wear Intel. If ARM is the latest trend, maybe some brand new Apple silicon should get the spotlight.

I just bought a 14" Lenovo laptop for less than half the price of a Macbook Air. It has a 300nit 1080p IPS screen, 6c CPU, 16GB of RAM, USB-C and USB-A ports, excellent keyboard and good trackpad. I knew from the moment of purchase that the IPS screen on this device does not cover sRGB space, but I also know people like my friend who will use this device don't really care for this as much as I would. Lenovo hit the perfect thresholds with this device, and it shows as it is being widely recommended by reviewers.

Remember, half the price for a good device, not some fundamentally flawed junk.

It's ok if you choose to buy into the Apple ecosystem (for convenience, integration, design, status, you name it), but don't pretend this choice invalidates objective value comparisons. It will only bite you back when you least expect it.

"Like a dual-core in a $900 device is a joke. " - this is where you fall on your face with this discussion , this is EXACTLY why they are leaving Intel behind , they cannot put a better CPU in this chassis without compromising the design of the machine
You're the one falling on your face with this argument as the more expensive device with the exact same chassis accommodates a 4c/8t CPU with significantly higher performance. Base Apple Macs are notorious for offering poor performance options to drive up margins (and upselling). The cheapest iMac with a dual-core and mechanical HDD is an even more tragicomical example.
 
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beginner99

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Jun 2, 2009
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"Like a dual-core in a $900 device is a joke. " - this is where you fall on your face with this discussion , this is EXACTLY why they are leaving Intel behind , they cannot put a better CPU in this chassis without compromising the design of the machine
What? They can. the dual-core is the base model. If you want a quad-core, you simply need to pay a lot more. You can get the quad in the exact same chassis.

I do admit that as it seems the dell xps 13 is probably even worse as the macbook air in terms of pricing. So it's not a apple only problem. I'm not sure why everyone is so offended by this. Does anyone really think $900 is acceptable for a dual core with 8 GB RAM in 2020? Just look at the HP envy which manages to ship with a 6-core and 16GB of RAM at similar price, body size and weight.
 

defferoo

Member
Sep 28, 2015
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What? They can. the dual-core is the base model. If you want a quad-core, you simply need to pay a lot more. You can get the quad in the exact same chassis.

I do admit that as it seems the dell xps 13 is probably even worse as the macbook air in terms of pricing. So it's not a apple only problem. I'm not sure why everyone is so offended by this. Does anyone really think $900 is acceptable for a dual core with 8 GB RAM in 2020? Just look at the HP envy which manages to ship with a 6-core and 16GB of RAM at similar price, body size and weight.
a lot more is $100, which is acceptable for the upgrade IMO.

this is the age old Mac vs. PC debate, i think you should just give up here, you are listing base specs and while those are important, it's really not what the Mac is about. You're not looking at the small details that Apple spends a lot of time/money on. display quality, calibration, and color management, and no i'm not really talking about resolution. security and encryption, see the T2 chip, the unparalleled I/O throughput of their NVMe controller, and more. That said, their base prices are high compared to PCs and they charge way too much for memory and SSD upgrades, but that's their business model. There really is no point debating this stuff.
 
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Jan Olšan

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You're not looking at the small details that Apple spends a lot of time/money on.
Like making sure design flaws kill unreplaceable keyboard, screen cable or something else within a few years and then the glorious T2 chip causes people to either spend 50% extra on top of that sweet initial price on authorised service or to buy a replacement new unit? :)

Gotta love that Rippoff As A Service model - if you own the company and not their PCs
 

awesomedeluxe

Member
Feb 12, 2020
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This thread has diverged wildly into apple-hate territory. We should get back on track discussing ideas for Apple's new silicon - and ignore the people who are just on here to start fights about whether Apple's products are a good value.

Someone shared an interesting idea on macrumors that I thought I'd pass along here. What if Apple used HBM2E as cache for their high-end graphics parts, instead of treating it as a separate memory pool? Think Vega high bandwith cache controller: the HBM2E is last-level cache, and system memory is VRAM. The HBM2E would be invisible to the developer. This would allow Apple to use "unified memory" for all their systems without sacrificing GPU performance or having to go whole-hog and use HBM as system memory.

I think HBM2E as system memory is a really interesting idea, I'm not totally sold on it being practical. You would need two stacks of it, and it would have to be close-ish to the CPU cores (and still right up next to the GPU cores). On the other hand, I don't think just using LPDDR5 for everything is acceptable for the MBP16 and up. This struck me as an interesting middle ground if Apple really is married to the "unified memory" design.
 

LightningZ71

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Mar 10, 2017
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Well, in all but the Mac Pros and precious few other products, they've been strongly discouraging or out-right making it impossible to upgrade the RAM in their products. If they just gave up on using DIMM slots on all but their Pro motherboards, then HBM2E could make a lot of sense. Assuming that their internal costs for the A series chips are less than what they were paying Intel for the x86 chips of "comparable" performance, using HBM2E stacks for system ram would likely fit within the current cost profile for all of their hardware. Too many stacks just drive the die pinout through the roof. Doing multi-level ram for what they are trying to do just seems too costly. I'd suggest just doing one or two stacks, depending on the product tier, and being done with it. HBM2E currently supports 16-24GB (24GB announced Oct19 with 12L stacks) per stack, so that's plenty of capacity. It certainly won't be cheap, but, the memory throughput should be unparalleled outside of server gear.

But that's all wishful thinking. Unless they heavily revamp the next A series revision, DDR5 seems the most likely. "dual" channel DDR5 with comparable bit widths to existing DDR4 designs gives over 100GB/sec of throughput, which is reasonably good for their intended market.
 

soresu

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Dec 19, 2014
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HBM2E currently supports 16-24GB (24GB announced Oct19 with 12L stacks) per stack, so that's plenty of capacity. It certainly won't be cheap, but, the memory throughput should be unparalleled outside of server gear.
Throughput yes, capacity no.

This is the main tripping point currently with GPU's - their memory capacity vs their socket bound CPU cousins, at least unless HBM3 dramatically increases the stack density over HBM2E.

A single socket CPU package in server/workstation boards can currently field up to 2TB, or 256 GB per DIMM slot.

This will go up to a max of 16 TB per socket/2TB per slot with the max spec projected for DDR5 (64 Gbit dies and doubled stack height over DDR4 server memory).
 

LightningZ71

Senior member
Mar 10, 2017
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Well, you've completely scoped out of 90% of the systems that apple delivers each year by choosing to focus on workstation/server boards.

I'm specifically referencing the meat of their market, from MacBook Airs with 8-16GB of ram and no dGPU, to iMacs (Not PRO!) that seem to top out at 32GB. A two-stack HBM2E A series processor equipped Mac would, on paper, provide as much usable memory as their current 32GB RAM, 8GB VRAM equipped dGPU systems do now, assuming that they use Samsung's advertised 12L 24GB stacks.

If you're looking for more GPU performance above that, why are we even talking about iGPU equipped systems in the first place?!?!

In a couple of years, there's supposed to be HBM3 with higher stack densities. That should keep two stack configurations on track for the meat of the market.
 

awesomedeluxe

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Feb 12, 2020
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Well, in all but the Mac Pros and precious few other products, they've been strongly discouraging or out-right making it impossible to upgrade the RAM in their products. If they just gave up on using DIMM slots on all but their Pro motherboards, then HBM2E could make a lot of sense. Assuming that their internal costs for the A series chips are less than what they were paying Intel for the x86 chips of "comparable" performance, using HBM2E stacks for system ram would likely fit within the current cost profile for all of their hardware. Too many stacks just drive the die pinout through the roof. Doing multi-level ram for what they are trying to do just seems too costly. I'd suggest just doing one or two stacks, depending on the product tier, and being done with it. HBM2E currently supports 16-24GB (24GB announced Oct19 with 12L stacks) per stack, so that's plenty of capacity. It certainly won't be cheap, but, the memory throughput should be unparalleled outside of server gear.

But that's all wishful thinking. Unless they heavily revamp the next A series revision, DDR5 seems the most likely. "dual" channel DDR5 with comparable bit widths to existing DDR4 designs gives over 100GB/sec of throughput, which is reasonably good for their intended market.
As well as I'm aware no one is manufacturing the 12-Hi stacks, so I'm ignoring them until that changes. One stack would be ideal, but 16GB is not enough for all-system memory from the MBP16 on up (the only devices I can really see them springing for HBM with) so you are stuck with two stacks no matter what if you go that route. I'm not entirely sure if all of your comment was directed at me--if it was, I was speculating on Apple using (LP)DDR5 as system memory and HBM2 as cache for the GPU. I would describe that, as you do, as "multi-level memory," but I am only envisioning 4-8GB of HBM2E being on whatever package holds the GPU cores. This should not be "too costly"; one 4-Hi stack of HBM2E and 32GB of LPDDR5 will be much cheaper than two 8-Hi stacks of HBM2E.

I'm specifically referencing the meat of their market, from MacBook Airs with 8-16GB of ram and no dGPU, to iMacs (Not PRO!) that seem to top out at 32GB. A two-stack HBM2E A series processor equipped Mac would, on paper, provide as much usable memory as their current 32GB RAM, 8GB VRAM equipped dGPU systems do now, assuming that they use Samsung's advertised 12L 24GB stacks.

If you're looking for more GPU performance above that, why are we even talking about iGPU equipped systems in the first place?!?!
OK, so if we are talking about machines which formerly used iGPUs -- these are already using system memory (LPDDR4 or DDR4) as the VRAM. LPDDR5 or DDR5 is fine. I expect a lot of these machines this year because they can function using an A14 with limited design changes, such as more cores/clock and a pinout for memory

Let me get to the meat of your question. There are a lot of reasons why we are talking about "iGPUs" in the context of pro machines, though I'm not sure that terminology is necessarily appropriate.

Apple's developer notes specifically omit AMD as a supported graphics solution. It seems highly likely they are using their own graphics. And at WWDC, they underscored how important unified memory was. This is just the headline info, but the smart money right now is on an Apple graphics solution that shares memory with the CPU.

Not necessarily an iGPU. I'm partial to a chiplet design that has a separate die full of GPU cores on the same package. But a big APU is also more feasible than you are giving it credit for. On N5P, Apple should be able to clock perf cores to ~3.2GHz with just 2W per core, and their GPU cores are probably using less than 0.8W. Yield issues aside, there's room for a lot of Apple GPU cores in a 28W or 45W or 55W envelope. You even have room for a stack of HBM2E to use as last-level cache for the GPU cores, which is what I was considering earlier.

No one knows what they will do for the Mac Pro, and the consensus is that's a problem that won't be solved until 2022. But for the MBP16 and iMac lines, I would not be surprised if you see an Apple graphics solution that does not confirm to the traditional notions of discrete gpus.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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I don't see them doing HBM on the lower end Macs. It is too expensive and too niche, and they don't need 400 GB/sec on a Macbook Air. LPDDR is a much better fit. It is cheaper, performs better than Apple's previous 'solder to the board' solution, and both Micron and Samsung offer solutions to scale it well beyond the 'phone' limits of 12 GB / 16 GB for LPDDR4X/LPDDR5 respectively.
 

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