Intel GMA HD - thoughts on use in MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Thunder82, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Saw this review/article on bit-tech regarding the new arrandale GMA HD GPU. Link What do you guys think about this being the GPU for the MBA? Seems like a much better jump from the older integrated GMA chips, but still not quite up to par with the 9400.

    As far as I see it, this looks like the only option for notebooks that don't have the space or ability to dissipate the heat of a dedicated card. Unless I'm missing something..?
     
  2. macrumors 601

    ayeying

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    #2
    No. It's horrible.

    The 9400M makes the Air a capable gaming system. Hell, I run CoD: MW2 on this thing with high texture settings and get no frame drops.

    With the Intel GMA HD, I can forget about running any games at all. I can forget about CUDA or OpenCL also.

    Using Intel video cards is a cheap method for notebooks designed not to be gaming systems or for the business world. They have a relatively low power consumption and less heat generation. However, if you look at the lower end video cards such as 9400M or even 9300M, they have nearly the same trade off but much better performance. However the pricing would be a lot higher vs the Intel Options.
     
  3. macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I think they should disable the on-chip GPU and stick with the 9400m. If there was any way to get them to work together, that would be awesome.
     
  4. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    That article was the reason I initially posted.. what do you think about it?

    I was hoping that this new chip would be a bit better for gaming. I realize that 3DMark isn't the end all, but it gets a better 3dmark05 score than the 9400m. Wonder if better drivers would allow this chip to perform better & really open up its potential?
     
  6. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #6
    It's better than the old Intel GMA 4500MHD. That's about it to be honest. It'll pass for HD playback and battery life but no games.
     
  7. macrumors 601

    ayeying

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    #7
    That article talks about Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. It's worse than the 9400M. Scores don't mean anything if the performance is worse...
     
  8. macrumors newbie

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    #8
    I guess whether it is good or bad depends entirely on what you use your MBA for. The gamers (as noted above) are probably not going to be too happy. As for me, if it causes it to run a little cooler so I get less fan noise and uses less power so I can get a few more minutes out the battery I will be quite pleased.
     
  9. macrumors 68030

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    #9
    i would be so upset. I have been looking into a macbook air as my next laptop and i really hope there is no intel graphics in any macs anymore.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

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    #10
    From the review, it doesn't look to be AS bad as I would've thought based on people's posts around here..

    One thing I'm not clear on though, is whether or not the processers in the system with the 9400m in that review are equivalent to those with the intel GMA setup? From what I can, the ones using the nvidia GPU have slower, C2D chips? So an i5/7 with the 9400m should be substantially better than the numbers posted in that review.
     
  11. macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #11
    According to AnandTech, the graphics in the higher-end desktop i5 are about even with the AMD 790GX, which, in turn, is roughly equivalent to nVidia 9400. The mobile i3/i5 has graphics on par with the desktop i3/i5 (other than the highest-end,) which is only slightly slower than the high-end i5.

    Remember, 9400M is now two years old. Yes, there are faster options now, but the integrated graphics in the laptop i3/i5/i7 are roughly equivalent. Any games that run on 9400M will run on "Intel HD Graphics", minus a single-percent frame rate in some games, and even plus a single-percent frame rate in others.

    And the latest Intel graphics do support OpenCL. (They don't support CUDA, but neither does anything from AMD, for that matter, as CUDA is nVidia-specific.

    Yes, the GMA 950 that came in the first Mac mini, MacBook, and MacBook Air sucked ass. The next-generation after that (which Apple skipped,) was noticeably better, and the current generation is even better yet. Yes, if nVidia and AMD could make 'integrated graphics' chipsets for the i3/i5/i7, it would likely be noticeably faster than what Intel provides; the Intel graphics are competitive with the 9400M.

    Finally, the notebook i3/i5/i7 have "Turbo Boost" that includes the GPU in its calculations. So the GPU can ramp up in speed if the whole package has enough thermal headroom. Yeah, if you're running SETI@Home on both CPU and GPU, you'll end up with crappy speeds on both; but if you're playing a game that isn't massively CPU-intensive, the GPU will ramp up and provide you with better speed. Likewise, when you're doing video rendering on the CPU, the GPU won't be using much power, so the CPU can ramp up in speed. All staying inside a much lower power envelope than adding the 9400M would.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see Intel HD graphics in the MacBook Pro; and would prefer not to see it in the 'plain' MacBook; but for the low-power Air, it fits perfectly.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    +1 Bravo
     
  13. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #13
    So the MBA wouldn't be able to drive the 30" Apple Cinema Display. Bad solution all around. This would be a terrible option for Apple to go with.

    You're right. The whole point Apple went with Nvidia chipsets and GPU was to take advantage of OpenCL and other technologies it developed with Snow Leopard. Is Apple really going to throw its hard work out the window and accept the IGP? I don't think so.

    Not possible with Core series CPUs. Intel claims Nvidia has no license to create for its Core architecture CPUs, and Nvidia accepted Intel's decision and quit making chipsets for anything beyond Penryn Core 2 Duo CPUs.

    Would it really be better for ANYTHING? We gain 20% theoretical CPU boost and lose nearly 60% of graphics power... What about taking advantage of the GPU and utilizing OpenCL and other tech? Could Apple's OS X really perform better than Windows even? Has Apple ever been king at writing great drivers? When we compare the 9400m between Windows 7 and OS X, Windows shows massive improvements over OS X. In my opinion, Apple doesn't write good drivers... most of the time.

    That's the problem though. Would it really pass for HD playback within OS X? Remember the original MBA? Remember the problems with the 3100 and Merom CPU? I don't think HD playback is guaranteed with the 4500HD and OS X.

    Will you really be pleased if your MBA cannot playback an HD movie? What about the future, do you really want to lose the whole point we "upgraded" to Snow Leopard for? If OpenCL cannot take full advantage, you lose more than just a video game. We're not just talking video games and video playback people, we're talking about a system that is technologically behind the MBA introduced in October 2008. What about all of the apps that will be written in the future that don't focus on graphics but still could utilize the 9400m for its processing capabilities.

    Make no mistake about it... and don't believe Intel, this is a huge step in the WRONG direction. It will severely limit the MBA's capabilities and the future of the MBA.

    I think you're reading into the review exactly what Intel wants you to think. If Apple goes along with this, we are all screwed... except those of us who just want to use the MBA for writing a book and reading email. Even Flash was torture to the first MBA with its Intel integrated graphics. If you think this solution isn't bad, you're not seeing the whole picture.

    You are reading what they want you to believe. The Intel IGP is at least a 60% loss in complete capabilities over the "15-month old" not two year old 9400m.

    Okay, let's say it is OpenCL compliant, if the processing capabilities are 60% lower, what do you think that means for how it takes advantage of OpenCL? Means it will do 40% of what the 9400m would do.

    Your post was too long and too naive. You're going to lose a hell of a lot more than the "nothing" you have described. Intel wants you to believe this too. It's simply not true. HD video playback, MAYBE on OS X... we don't know. Remember that OS X is not as capable as Windows at many things.

    I pray to God that nobody at Apple was as naive as you when deciding what to do about the graphics problem with Intel's Core architecture. We all better hope that Apple figured out that a dedicated ATI solution might cost more but would be the only thing not going backwards to the tech used before the 9400m was implemented in the MBA. It's not just the MBA we're talking about here people. Apple uses the 9400m in every Mac except the Mac Pro!

    This is a big problem. What we saw Apple do to counter this problem in the iMacs was to continue utilizing Penryn CPUs on its lower end offerings. It did this so it could continue taking advantage of the Nvidia 9400m. It has invested heavily into the technologies capable of the 9400m, and it's not just going to throw it away.

    I will HAPPILY take Penryn at 2.13 GHz with Nvidia's 9400m or any new Nvidia solution (like 105m) over Arrandale CPU with Intel's IGP as sole graphics solution. And you all should study this a hell of a lot more if you think Intel's IGP will be acceptable for anything more than using your MBA as a word processor!

    - 1 MILLION... I am speaking for the fans who don't know any better here... those who haven't read about this... those who don't want to accept what Intel says as gospel... those who want someone to stand up for their MBA's future and are too busy to do it for themselves.

    If Apple goes with this in the MBA, there better be a BTO option allowing a real graphics solution to be in the higher end MBA.

    I can just see it now... going back to the same thing we had with the original MBA... and all the hours I preached for people to not fall into the same trap as I did. The hours spent explaining why NOT to buy the original MBA and to instead spend a little more and get the machine that was 5x as capable

    Apple will not do this. It makes no sense. Sticking with Penryn and Nvidia makes far more sense for this last update... until it gives Apple ample time to figure out how to move forward with the next update.
     
  14. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #14
    It was from a Windows or Linux perspective sadly. Apple doesn't want anyone who doesn't own an Apple TV or buys videos from iTunes to enjoy the benefits of low CPU hardware accelerated video playback via a graphics processor.

    It's amazing what XBMC can do that Apple doesn't want to.
     
  15. macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #15
    http://www.intel.com/products/notebook/chipsets/hm57/hm57-overview.htm

    The new mobile chips can handle the 30" display's resolution just fine. (And the resolution of the 27" iMac in 'display target mode', for that matter.)

    Yes, Intel's mobile graphics are worse than ATI/nVidia. The Air isn't meant to be a graphics powerhouse.

    And I don't know about the Arrandale graphics' ability to handle HD decoding, but my previous-generation GM45 can handle Blu-ray playback, and Adobe Flash playback, just fine GPU-accelerated.

    As Apple has never shipped any hardware with G45/GM45 chipsets (aka 4500HD graphics,) it's not really surprising at all. Apple has never had any reason to write Intel 4500HD drivers. Personally, I'd like to see Intel do OS X drivers, but I'm sure Apple has Intel on a short leash on not helping drive unsupported hardware.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

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    #16

    Maybe, but with the 9400, it is a very, very capable machine, graphics-wise. To take a step backwards after 15+ months would be lame.

    We expect our cpu's to advance after that amount of time, why should we be satisfied with lower graphics performance after all this time?

    +1 for me as someone who will absolutely avoid a Mac laptop with the Intel GMA HD
     
  17. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #17
    According to the link to the article this thread focuses on, the IGP only works with Display Port native displays. Apple's own 30" Cinema Display doesn't work with Display Port.

    We will see what happens, but I suggest a complete failure and problems for even HD video playback on OS X if Intel's IGP is the sole solution in the MBA. I predict threads upon threads of problems about the IGP. Unfortunately, the MBAs of days past will be more valuable and coveted than a 4GB RAM MBA v3,1 with only an Intel IGP.

    I just don't think Apple is this stupid. I pray that I don't have to eat more words, because eating my words will not be for the better solution. Apple surely wants to move past the 2008 Nvidia technology and not to relive the events that ruined the MBA's reputation with its first release.
     
  18. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #18
    You are 100% correct. The problem is we have experienced an alternative solution for 15 months, and the targeted buyers really want a capable MBA. We are not wanting a "powerhouse" machine with graphics capable of creating a 3D motion picture. We only want an MBA that builds upon its past versions, and that moves forward capable of being a primary Mac for those who purchase it.

    Unfortunately our "senior" ehurtley (member since 2003), doesn't remember how badly the MBA was with Intel's graphics in the original MBA. Sorta like the saying goes, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." Apple isn't going to fool me twice with such an MBA as one that solely uses Intel's IGP.

    I do believe that an Intel IGP would probably sell more MBAs, because it would probably be targeted to a sub $1,000 MBA that focuses on those who want a secondary Mac. Does anyone here really want an MBA that is essentially a "Mac OS X Lite." This would be an MBA that doesn't really want to be a MacBook but rather a "Netbook" of sorts. Why would Apple do that? Would that make any sense with the iPad being released to compete for the same market? The whole point of the MacBook Air is that it focuses on being a MacBook, with components capable of the same as a MB, with a full-sized keyboard, and with a full 13" display, yet is more lightweight and better for travel than a MB.
     
  19. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #19
    Apple on supports GPU accelerated video playback on the 9400M G and even so in limited instances. There are plenty of other graphics processors that would be able to so from DVD playback to h.264.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    While I hope your right, there really isn't space on the MBA motherboard for a dedicated chip. Have you seen the current board? There is VERY little unused space. The only reason we currently have the 9400, is because it's built into the chipset.

    Beyond all this, can the MBA really handle the heat of a dedicated card?
     
  21. macrumors 68040

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    #21
    There is not enough room/battery life/cooling in the Air for a dedicated GPU. Intel wont let anyone else build chipsets for the Nehalem processors. So yes it will get Intel graphics. Unless AMD or PA Semi can build a CPU faster than the current 2.13ghz Core 2 Duo in the Air, that is x86, very low power and then have AMD build a chipset for it. Not likely.

    And they're not going to make the Air bigger to accommodate a GPU, not whilst Jobs has Air in his lungs.
     
  22. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #22
    Technology changes and gets smaller. I am certain Apple can either miniaturize the current capabilities and make a smaller MBA, or it can keep the same size MBA and give it more capabilities. One or the other should happen. Think about the battery space for example... does Apple use its technology to get the same output from a smaller battery, or does Apple make the battery the same size and give it more output to increase time between charges?

    I definitely agree there is currently very little extra space, but don't count Apple out on finding more available space to improve the user experience. I don't know for sure what Apple is going to do, but I have more faith that it will actually use a better graphics solution than Intel's IGP.

    I certainly am believing more and more that tomorrow's MBA update will include an Intel SL9x00 Penryn Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GPU/chipset. I believe it's the best currently capable solution to the graphics "problem" created by Intel and its IGP. Anyone that's willing to give up an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and Nvidia GPU/chipset for an Intel Arrandale CPU and IGP, hasn't thought out the solution and the system's total performance loss. Surely Apple has considered both possibilities and proven to itself that a 10 to 20% CPU boost would be nice, but when paired with a 60% GPU performance loss, the decision becomes obvious.

    While Core 2 Duo can be improved upon, the experience with the MBA is amazingly great since the Nvidia GPU is used. Improving the CPU is not necessary to give MBA users a great experience. Remember Apple is about the performance of the complete system including OS X. The "average" buyer is a business professional who just needs a stable system that "just works." While others make the argument that the MBA doesn't need to be a powerful machine with Nvidia's GPU and Intel's IGP should do, they aren't considering that the Core series CPU isn't necessary since the MBA is not for the professional who needs a professional grade computer. Their own argument is being ignored...
     
  23. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #23
    I can't imagine a MacBook Air updated unless Apple did get first pick of Arrandale LV. It looks like Spring before anyone else releases any Arrandale LV product and at worst all the way to May. Maybe MCP89 did manage to survive and Apple is going to use it.
     
  24. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #24
    Remember, Jobs is deep involved with the tablet. He has forgotten the MBA completely. I don't believe you're considering the possibility of continuing to use Core 2 Duo and Nvidia GPU/chipset in Macs that don't need faster CPUs. Macs need to keep being more innovative and provide a better complete system performance update with each release. I believe the using Intel Core CPUs with only IGPs will lead to a worse complete system performance experience. How does Apple make us want to "downgrade" to the "NEW MBA?"

    The other thing you're not remembering is that technology gets smaller. Don't count Apple out on making room for an ATI graphics solution by miniaturizing other components via technology advancements. So if there is a Core Architecture CPU it will probably be a Core i7 using ATI 4xxx graphics. Either solution is an improvement that builds upon the past MBAs.

    The problem is no matter what other improvements Apple makes (IE 4 GB RAM), if the MBA only has an Intel IGP, it will be a downgrade. Until Intel improves the IGP, Apple will need to find a way around Intel. In the past, Apple learned its way around Intel, and it makes sense to keep doing the same.
     
  25. macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #25
    Actually, the current MacBook Air, Pro, plain MacBook, mini, and iMac are all in the same boat. They only officially support higher-than 1920x1200 via DisplayPort-native. That's why you need to pay $100 for the DisplayPort-to-Dual-Link-DVI adapter to run a 30" display off any of those systems.

    I remember it quite well, based on the fact that I own a first-generation black MacBook, with Intel GMA950 graphics. And if you didn't read my previous posts, you will see that I fully agree that GMA950 sucks. Period. If you re-read my posts, you will also see that Intel's newer graphics chipsets are markedly improved. And finally, if you re-read my posts, you will see that I agree that discrete chipsets are better still; I just make the point that for what the Air is targeted at, Intel's current integrated graphics are "acceptable". They support OpenCL, they support on-GPU decode of MPEG-2 and H.264, etc.

    Which is exactly the point of the MBA. A secondary Mac. Apple has never said anything different. (Although it would be nice if the $1000 price point was accurate.)
     

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