AMD's New 400-Series 'Polaris' Graphics Chips Headed for 2016 Macs

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Following up on its rumor of a major AMD design win reported last October, WCCFtech has confirmed via multiple sources that the customer in question is indeed Apple. The latest design win follows Apple's use of AMD 200/300 series GPUs in the top-end 27-inch Retina iMac and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and is a boon for the chipmaker that has seen its share of the graphics market dwindle over the past several years.

    The design wins make mention of two graphics processor families, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. The former carries a code name "Ellesmere" and is believed to be in the power range that would make it suitable for an upgrade to the iMac. Polaris 11 has the code name "Baffin" and it is believed to be in the power range suitable for an upgrade to the Retina MacBook Pro.


    While Apple has limited discrete graphics chips to the top of its MacBook Pro and iMac lines, there would be suitable chips for all but the smallest form factors of Apple notebooks, should the company choose to embrace discrete graphics on a broader array of models.

    As we previously noted, the switch to the new Polaris line of GPUs is set to be a significant performance upgrade over the previous 28nm GPUs. Announced by AMD at Computex, the lower-power AMD GPUs are set to be built on Global Foundries' 14nm process. Through an agreement between multiple foundries, the process is equivalent to Samsung's own second-generation 14nm FinFET process, which is the successor of the process used for the A9 and A9X featured in the latest iPhones and iPads.


    Performance of these new graphics chips from AMD is expected to be double that of their predecessors, measured on a per-watt basis. This is thanks to the large size reduction and performance gains in going from the 28nm node first seen in 2011 for graphics processors to the new 16/14nm FinFET processes. This would certainly be welcome to the Mac lineup due to the increased graphics demands of the high-resolution Retina screens featured in both the iMac and MacBook Pro computers. It is reasonable to expect that Apple would allocate roughly the same power budget as on current models, meaning the 2x performance could be seen by users in some cases.

    According to earlier reports, the chips should be ready to ship in consumer products in time for the back-to-school shopping season. It is not unheard of for Apple to receive priority on new chip designs, though WWDC would be the most logical time to expect these new Macs to debut. The future of the Mac Pro is less certain, though there will certainly be suitable high-end chips from AMD manufactured on TSMC's 16nm process this year.

    Article Link: AMD's New 400-Series 'Polaris' Graphics Chips Headed for 2016 Macs
  2. Bigsk8r macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2011
    Austin, Texas
  3. macrumors 68000

    May 25, 2012
    Can't wait to see what they are actually putting these in and how much the upgrades will be.
  4. 69Mustang, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016

    69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    If Apple announces a proper new mac mini I will get all caught up in my feels.:oops: It's the only thing I want from Apple. Am I asking for too much?:confused: I will pretend that last updated mini never happened, and all will be forgiven.
  5. neuropsychguy macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    This will be great if Polaris turns out to be as good (or nearly as good) as hyped. I've heard nothing but good things about Polaris so it looks like AMD might be back in the game.
  6. 0004838 Suspended

    Oct 1, 2014
    Interestingly, Ellesmere Island and Baffin Island are just north of, and on, the Arctic Circle respectively. I guess AMD are trying to indicate their new GPUs are going to start running cooler, with better to come?
  7. mattthecoolguy macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2015
    As someone who isn't up to date on the info, how much of a performance jump will this be from the AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB GDDR5 memory and AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory offered in the current Mbp and Retina Mac?
  8. pedrom Suspended

    Jan 30, 2016
    I know how Apple sees Intel (stalled) and Nvidia (useless pieces of garbage) and dGPUs in general (power hungry, outdated processes, points of failure, useless on any lightweight/well built mobile PC). But frankly, they are paid to find alternatives.

    I can't get excited for any of this until Apple resolves the big picture: OS X and its graphical performance that is milleniuns behind Windows. Looking at how FCP takes advantage of OS X and Apple hardware (enough to annihilate competition) one can only imagine what they would be able to do if the support was up-to-date.
  9. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a


    Oct 2, 2013
    Litovel, Czech Republic
    Please bring Nvidia for dedicated cards. That would be a much better switch.
  10. diamond.g macrumors 603


    Mar 20, 2007
    I kind of would rather see Apple spend time on their own PowerVR solution for use in Macs.
  11. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
  12. Radio Signal macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2015
    Ironic that Apple's testimony of a GPU's prowess is 1K gaming, when the iMac is making its bones at 5K. I'm not even going to address gaming. If Apple wants that market it should just flat out commit Pippin, I mean AppleTV, to it.
  13. Crosscreek, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016

    Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    Give me a Mac Mini option with one of these in it and I may stay with Apple. My patience has grow thin.
  14. Mums Suspended


    Oct 4, 2011
    "The future of the Mac Pro is less certain" - kind of like the future of Apple.
  15. Quicklite macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2011
  16. KdParker, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016

    KdParker macrumors 601


    Oct 1, 2010
    I agree with you about OS X when is comes to graphical performance and sound cards. Running windows on my mac makes those differences clear.
  17. ThisBougieLife macrumors 68000


    Jan 21, 2016
    SF Bay Area, California
    I would really love to see an updated Mac Mini. You know, a real update, not dumbing it down by removing previously available options and calling it an "update".
  18. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
  19. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    After seeing over 23 years of products not living up to the hype, I'm hugely sceptical about these claims, especially since the source is also the creator.

    I'll believe it when I see it, but the norm is that people get all hyped up about the numbers, and then the product hits the real world. Then, people quickly find out that those specs were only for "optimal conditions" or maximum possible values that can never be sustained for very long.

    I think what's more important for mobile systems is the power management. Performance is important too, but I think that for long term reliability, the power usage of them will be more important. Less power usually equates to less heat, which in the case of mobile systems (Mac's especially) is a good thing. Hopefully this marks the end of the failing mobile dGPU's, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that either.
  20. busyscott macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2015
  21. nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    When you quit dancing with the ones that brought you (the Pro computer users) then you can expect to be left alone at the end of the dance. Lets see if Apple thinks their Ivy League MBAs can evade reality.
  22. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    Contrary to popular belief AMD never left the GPU game. They in fact have very good GPU's with a slightly different forces than Nvidia and often far better performance than Nvidia.
  23. xkam1x macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2014
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    Would have preferred Nvidia but this has some promise.
  24. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    It is hard to say because we don't know exactly what will be shipped in the new Macs. However 50% is very possible. If Apple chooses a chip with HBM built in they might be even faster. HBM being High Bandwidth Memory of course.

    In other words there is a huge amount of potential upside here but this is Apple and we know how they tend to focus on less than high end. Apples focus here probably isn't a bad thing as this can lead to more reliable hardware.
  25. Mums Suspended


    Oct 4, 2011
    Exactly. Remember when Apple was a grassroots effort up to the early 2000s? Like with TekServe in New York? We LOVED Apple because it brought beautiful capabilities into our lives. Now it's a hollow commodity double of itself.

Share This Page