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Question New Apple SoC - M1 - For lower end Macs - Geekbench 5 single-core >1700

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B-Riz

Golden Member
Feb 15, 2011
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Doesn't seem all that informed to me.

899 gets you an M1 Mini with 16GB RAM (but only 256GB SSD), so 1099 gets you to 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD.

1099 gets you a 6 core Intel Mini with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. But you can upgrade RAM yourself. If your goal is 16GB, it's actually more expensive to do this.

That and from what I have seen the M1 will smoke the base 6 core Intel Mini at everything.

Only get the the Intel one if you MUST have More than 16GB RAM, because you aren't saving anything, and the Intel machine is slower.
Eh, who cares if it is slower if a refurb / fleabay 2018 Intel Mini is a better deal with better compatibility?

I bought an open box 2018 Mini in 2019 and still cannot find a compelling reason to buy an M1 Mini, even at a refurbished discount from Apple at $589.

M1 is neat, but still a gimmick with bells n whistles and "look, better numbers" with a now bifurcated software ecosystem.

Just Apple doing Apple things really.
 
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guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
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Eh, who cares if it is slower if a refurb / fleabay 2018 Intel Mini is a better deal with better compatibility?

I bought an open box 2018 Mini in 2019 and still cannot find a compelling reason to buy an M1 Mini, even at a refurbished discount from Apple at $589.

M1 is neat, but still a gimmick with bells n whistles and "look, better numbers" with a now bifurcated software ecosystem.

Just Apple doing Apple things really.
Where is the better deal? It costs more for the Intel one to get to 16GB, even if you upgrade it yourself and it's slower.

Refurbs and used will exist for both.

So Intel is more money and slower. Yeah, great deal. ;)
 

B-Riz

Golden Member
Feb 15, 2011
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Where is the better deal? It costs more for the Intel one to get to 16GB, even if you upgrade it yourself and it's slower.

Refurbs and used will exist for both.

So Intel is more money and slower. Yeah, great deal. ;)
Jfc, I am talking about buying a refurb, Intel is a way better deal.

New, it is a wash IMO, new and shiny and an effed up software eco-system or older and no software issues.

But I forgot that everyone is bench-marking there Mini's in here all day and bragging about bigger numbers. o_O
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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B-Riz

Golden Member
Feb 15, 2011
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They have refurb M1 minis. I passed because they only have 256GB SSD drives, but they have them.
There was a good mix last week of the refurb M1, but it was still knocking close to $1k for 16GB and a bigger SSD in it, that is just nuts for what it is.
 

Schmide

Diamond Member
Mar 7, 2002
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My questions...

Is there a packaging or even a die difference that makes certain skews 8 or 16gb?

Are memory and SSD tied together?
 

guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
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My questions...

Is there a packaging or even a die difference that makes certain skews 8 or 16gb?

Are memory and SSD tied together?
Nope.

Someone desoldered the 8GB of RAM and soldered in 16GB. You need much better than average skills to do this, and you risk screwing it up.

 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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M1 is neat, but still a gimmick with bells n whistles and "look, better numbers" with a now bifurcated software ecosystem.
You expected them to upgrade the entire line to ARM at once, dropping all x86 models the same day? Of course it is bifurcated for a while, there has to be a transition period.

All they've done so far is stick the M1 in entry level systems, they haven't even dropped the "higher end" x86 SKU (higher end in quotes since it is slower) for their cheapest products like the Air and Mini.

They will support larger memory configurations in non-entry level systems that will get whatever follows M1 - we'll probably see something later this year based on the A15 cores. Some will likely still have soldered RAM depending on the model, but they won't be able to use LPDDR4/5 outside the entry level due to its inherent capacity limit.
 

moinmoin

Platinum Member
Jun 1, 2017
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The transition period of 2 years may seem long, but I really wonder if and when Apple is going to replace the actually higher end SKUs. That may end up being much closer to the end of that transition period.
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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The transition period of 2 years may seem long, but I really wonder if and when Apple is going to replace the actually higher end SKUs. That may end up being much closer to the end of that transition period.
What's left is the 16" MBP and 27+" iMac, as well as whatever they do with the Mac Pro. The former should be released this year and both probally use the same SoC.
 

moinmoin

Platinum Member
Jun 1, 2017
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What's left is the 16" MBP and 27+" iMac, as well as whatever they do with the Mac Pro. The former should be released this year and both probally use the same SoC.
Yeah, a hypothetical M1X may be sufficient for 16" MBP and 27+" iMac. What they do with Mac Pro (and when) is the big question.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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The transition period of 2 years may seem long, but I really wonder if and when Apple is going to replace the actually higher end SKUs. That may end up being much closer to the end of that transition period.
The "high end" for a Mini or Air might be the entry level for MBP 16". That's what the rumored 8+4 core would presumably be. I don't see them waiting until next year for that, whether it falls closer to the beginning or end of the transition period depends on when the new Mac Pro comes out.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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Yeah, a hypothetical M1X may be sufficient for 16" MBP and 27+" iMac. What they do with Mac Pro (and when) is the big question.
Yeah I'm still putting my money the Mac Pro using the chips that go in the lower end Macs able to work alone or as chiplets. You get up to 32 big cores, 4x the GPU, and 4x the memory channels. If they really wanted to go insane they could even release an 8 chip version of that later.

Rumors are all over the place though, some are claiming Apple is designing monolithic chips for this, some claim it will be based on N4 instead of N3 as I believe which means it could come out as early as Q1 next year. So who knows.

The other open question is if they will use TSMC's high performance process for the Mac Pro. They could get 10-20% more performance over the low power process that M1 uses. I think that's a guarantee if they go monolithic, if they go chiplet using the HP process would mean using that process for the chips going in the MBP 16" which would cost some battery life. They could really put up some blowout performance numbers though and make Intel look silly.
 

guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
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The "high end" for a Mini or Air might be the entry level for MBP 16". That's what the rumored 8+4 core would presumably be. I don't see them waiting until next year for that, whether it falls closer to the beginning or end of the transition period depends on when the new Mac Pro comes out.
Yeah Mid range chip will eventually power the 16" MBP, Big Screen iMac, and Mac Mini. In descending order of priority. Unless they are very chip constrained, I expect this will be announced and rolled out together. Though highest priority to laptop if supply is tight. The Mac business is mostly a laptop business.

I don't see the Mac Pro influencing the Mini rollout at all.
 

thunng8

Member
Jan 8, 2013
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Eh, who cares if it is slower if a refurb / fleabay 2018 Intel Mini is a better deal with better compatibility?

I bought an open box 2018 Mini in 2019 and still cannot find a compelling reason to buy an M1 Mini, even at a refurbished discount from Apple at $589.

M1 is neat, but still a gimmick with bells n whistles and "look, better numbers" with a now bifurcated software ecosystem.

Just Apple doing Apple things really.
It was compelling for me. I had a mac mini i5 6 core (2018) with 32GB RAM (installed it myself - it was easy). The M1 with 16GB runs circle around the Intel. General usage is significantly faster (browsing, app launch, scrolling). Photo editing is a lot faster. A large photomerge in photoshop (15 42MP RAW files) was almost 2X faster. Even Lightroom CC classic running under Rosetta was about 20% faster. I also dabble in video editing - but my cursory usage reveals it is at least 3X faster or more.

Note: I've been a big fan of the mini. I had the 2012 quad core i7 model previously. Upgrading to the 2018 model. never gave me a "wow, that was fast moment". It was an incremental speedup. The upgrade to the M1 definitely changed that. There were several times I thought, "wow, that was fast!".

I don't regret the upgrade to M1 at all. Unless you really need to run x86/x64 virtualization - upgrading to an M1 IMO is a no-brainer.
 
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thunng8

Member
Jan 8, 2013
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What's left is the 16" MBP and 27+" iMac, as well as whatever they do with the Mac Pro. The former should be released this year and both probally use the same SoC.
There will also be a high end 13" class model. Rumor is that it will be 14" instead of 13.3".
 

smalM

Junior Member
Sep 9, 2019
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some claim it will be based on N4 instead of N3 as I believe which means it could come out as early as Q1 next year.
N4 will enter risk production in the second half of this year and HVM next year (and I'm pretty sure it will be after Chinese New Year).
Apple does not use risk production.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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Yeah I'm still putting my money the Mac Pro using the chips that go in the lower end Macs able to work alone or as chiplets. You get up to 32 big cores, 4x the GPU, and 4x the memory channels. If they really wanted to go insane they could even release an 8 chip version of that later.
I've been wondering what they'd do for the bigger chip. Adding in some additional cores and possibly targeting a higher clock speed seems more than reasonable. They definitely have a lot of thermal headroom to play with, but the GPU is what gives me the most pause. Apple has never cared overly much about having the most powerful graphics, but it seems like it would be hard to compete with the high-end Nvidia/AMD GPUs that professionals would want to use for their work. I have to think that some of the type end models will still have dedicated graphics.

Note: I've been a big fan of the mini. I had the 2012 quad core i7 model previously. Upgrading to the 2018 model. never gave me a "wow, that was fast moment". It was an incremental speedup. The upgrade to the M1 definitely changed that. There were several times I thought, "wow, that was fast!".
I think that's just general Intel stagnation over that time period. Intel released mainstream 4C/8T parts all the way back in 2008 with Core 2 Quads and Nehalem. It took them a decade until the started releasing 6C/12T consumer parts with Coffee Lake. There were some good IPC gains and the clock speeds that the chips could hit slowly crept up, but if you had a Sandy Bridge CPU you were still generally fine and didn't have a lot of reason to upgrade unless you were a professional user that could get some benefits and didn't already have an HEDT part.
 

scineram

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Nov 1, 2020
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I think that's just general Intel stagnation over that time period. Intel released mainstream 4C/8T parts all the way back in 2008 with Core 2 Quads and Nehalem. It took them a decade until the started releasing 6C/12T consumer parts with Coffee Lake. There were some good IPC gains and the clock speeds that the chips could hit slowly crept up, but if you had a Sandy Bridge CPU you were still generally fine and didn't have a lot of reason to upgrade unless you were a professional user that could get some benefits and didn't already have an HEDT part.
Cope. They just have 50% more IPC than Skylake, or so.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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Cope. They just have 50% more IPC than Skylake, or so.
What are you even talking about with this "cope" nonsense? Yeah, the M1 has a higher IPC, but the reason it feels like such a big upgrade is that until Zen came out Intel was under no pressure to make big improvements. Even their process tech fell behind.

If Intel were as aggressive with their CPU designs as Apple had been over the years, I'd wager that the M1 Mac Mini would have get more like just a usual upgrade instead of such a big jump.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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N4 will enter risk production in the second half of this year and HVM next year (and I'm pretty sure it will be after Chinese New Year).
Apple does not use risk production.
If N4 is only risk production in H2 of this year there's no way Apple will use it for anything, I thought I had seen something indicating it would enter mass production before the end of this year but that's clearly not the case. In fact, when I googled to check on this I saw an article suggesting N4 wouldn't begin risk production until Q4.

N3 will be entering risk production pretty soon, well before N4. TSMC seems to have a risk production window of about 9-12 months before entering HVM, and TSMC targets a window of Q2 for the start of HVM to match up with the iPhone launch. A tweaked process like N4 would undoubtedly have a shorter risk production window, but if it starts in Q4 it is unlikely to beat N3 to HVM by much so it would seem unlikely Apple would have any reason to choose N4 over N3 if best case they only gain a month or two.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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I've been wondering what they'd do for the bigger chip. Adding in some additional cores and possibly targeting a higher clock speed seems more than reasonable. They definitely have a lot of thermal headroom to play with, but the GPU is what gives me the most pause. Apple has never cared overly much about having the most powerful graphics, but it seems like it would be hard to compete with the high-end Nvidia/AMD GPUs that professionals would want to use for their work. I have to think that some of the type end models will still have dedicated graphics.
I wouldn't be shocked to see the next step up from the M1 (8+4 or whatever it ends up being) having 4x the GPU cores instead of only doubling. If they use a chiplet solution for the Mac Pro they'll need bigger GPU building blocks than 2x M1 performance to have any shot of beating AMD/NVidia GPUs - and yes I do think beating their best mobile GPU will be the goal for the MBP 16" high end SKU and beating their best discrete GPU will be the goal for the Mac Pro (though that will obviously be a LOT harder to accomplish)

From eyeballing the die photos the GPU looks to be around 20% of the M1, let's call it 25 mm^2. If they added 75 mm^2 for quadrupling the CPU, added let's call it 20 mm^2 for four more big cores, and another 10 mm^2 or so for more memory controller/system cache resources. That gets it up in the 230 mm^2 range, or just under twice the size of the M1 die. Unfortunately N5P won't get them any scaling benefit over N5, but at least there's a decent 7% performance or 15% power improvement to play with. This all assumes the GPU cores are roughly the same size in the A15 generation - if they are significantly bigger/better they might not need to go a full 4x.

Yield shouldn't be a concern at that die size, especially since they could use dies with defects in CPU or GPU areas that are still otherwise functional (which should be well over half the defective chips based on area) as 6+4 chips with fewer GPU cores to create a mid level between the M1 and the 8+4.

Plugging a few numbers into a wafer calculator (using 12x20 for a 240 mm^2) shows 242 dies per wafer. If you conservatively assume you get 200 good dies (as either 8+4 or 6+4) then the cost per die based on reported TSMC wafer costs (i.e. not including testing, packaging etc.) is still comfortably under $100. So I don't think that's an unreasonable die size even though it would be over 50% larger than anything Apple has done with previous A-series SoCs.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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I don't think the number of dies or the cost is a big concern to Apple. Obviously the want to make money as much as the next corporation, but it's a question of performance and what they can achieve with whatever amount of die space they do end up allocating to graphics.

There's been a good deal of comparisons between what their CPU cores are capable of compared to what both AMD and Intel have, but I don't think I've seen nearly as much on what their graphics cores are capable of or how they stack up relative to anything outside of those found in other ARM-based designs that feature in phones or tablets.

Another problem is whether there's native support for their GPU because even if it's really good, if they have to use Rosetta for most applications it's going to hurt performance. Some of the benchmarks results that have been posted showed that you could get roughly 1650 performance out of the M1 GPU in synthetic tests, but once you moved into an actual game and had to rely on translation the M1 was only 60% - 75% of the performance.
 

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