Apple to Add Dedicated Video Hardware to Macs?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    AlleyInsider publishes an unconfirmed rumor that Apple will be incorporating QuickTime encoding/decoding chips into their products in the coming months. AlleyInsider's Dan Frommer describes it as "pure speculation" but felt it plausible enough to publish for discussion.
    The rumor actually mirrors an old claim by Robert Cringely from 2007 that describes the same details:
    The significance of this rumor is somewhat unclear as many modern day graphics cards already contain dedicated H.264 decoding hardware. The addition of encoding hardware, however, may be of beneift for lower end and mobile configurations.

    Incidentally, H.264 is one of the codecs used in Blu-Ray high definition video discs which Apple has yet to adopt.

    Article Link
  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020


    Jul 16, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    Obviously this would be great for low end MacBooks with IGPs but this coming at a time when Apple is promoting Parallel computing........:confused:
  4. Bubba Satori Suspended

    Bubba Satori

    Feb 15, 2008
  5. bwshockley macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2007
    Gilbert, AZ
    I would like to see this, especially if it can reduce iChat overhead and save some juice. I run iChat for hours on end, producing a fairly hot MacBook Pro in the process. I'd love to see a dedicated encoder that uses less power, or at least creates less heat. :)
  6. echeck macrumors 68000


    Apr 20, 2004
    Boise, Idaho
    I don't see this happening.

    Definitely worth speculating about, but I would be surprised if it came to fruition.
  7. kornyboy macrumors 68000

    Sep 27, 2004
    Knoxville, TN (USA)
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_0_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5B108 Safari/525.20)

    So this means that we may see a Blu-Ray drive in an Apple computer soon. Glad to hear this but I think that we will have to wait and see what happens. It would be very nice to see Blu-Ray in all computers that have an optical drive.
  8. solipsism macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2008
    It's true, because the Intel Montevina chipset comes with High Profile H.264 and VC-1 decoding.
  9. christiemp macrumors regular


    Jul 27, 2008
    I would LOVE if they did this on the new macbooks AND released them before September 15th :)!

    I would LOVE for the new macbooks to be released with this the first tuesday in September...I'm crossing my fingers...but it probably won't happen :(
  10. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    It sounds like it would've been useful 3 years ago, but not today.

    AFAIK, I assume that even the lowest end current macbook can encode and decode h.264 at a reasonable rate without a dedicated chip. Heck, my 5 year old 1 ghz G4 powerbook can encode h.264 off a DVD in very high quality at something like 8 times longer than real time. So I would presume (and hope) that even without a dedicated chip a brand new upcoming late 2008 / early 2009 macbook should be able to do stuff more than 8 times faster!
  11. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    a german magazine (spiegel) had an article about blue ray in PC's and how they can't cope with the data amount. maybe one of the reasons that there is no blue ray in macbooks is simply because the processors aren't powerful enough or get too hot/use too much battery. and apple wants to make things go smooth. i wouldn't mind having a chip in a MB that solves that problem (although i don't need/want blue ray). a year ago they said it's about $50. maybe prices are down by now.
  12. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Jun 20, 2007
    Unless they can parlay this into a grandcentral coprocessor, i really don't think this is the big sept. news.
  13. milo macrumors 604

    Sep 23, 2003
    *Adding* video hardware?

    Don't many macs already have video hardware that at least does hardware encoding, but it sits there unused because apple doesn't provide the software drivers for it?

    Wouldn't adding the software support for stuff they're shipping already be the first step?
  14. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Gee, I was excited by this rumor back in 2007.

    And 2006.

    And, hmmm...I think there was something similar in 2004. (Different hardware, I'm sure, but the same idea.)

    Let's just file this one away next to the 'mini tower' idea and get on with our lives.
  15. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Video cards are not made to encode and de-code H.264. The processor still does that before passing it on to the video card.
  16. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    Interesting. Another feature the next MacBooks and MacBook Pros could have. So I suppose upcoming Macs, Snow Leopard, iTunes X / Media Me, and iLife '09 could focus on these aspects: iChat, HD iTunes videos, HD in general, QuickTime X, etc.

    An explosion of media? I'm liking that. :cool:

    That's totally valid, but then why isn't there Blu-ray in the Mac Pros and/or iMacs? 4/8 cores should be enough.

    So I'm thinking the absence of Blu-ray in Macs is mainly from another reason.
  17. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    This is a waste of time. OpenCL will allow GPU to accelerate h.264 encoding. And even without OpenCL, ATI has already partnered with Cyberlink PowerProducer to allow GPU accelerated encoding and similarly nVidia is doing the same with the BadaBOOM software. Even if Intel IGPs lack GPU accelerated h.264 encoding, Grand Central should make better utilization of existing dual cores.

    And of course, all discrete GPUs in the current Apple lineup already accelerate h.264 decode with Blu-ray support, although better drivers are probably needed. Intel's GMA X4500 also provides h.264 decoding acceleration so decoding h.264 is hardly a feature that needs a separate chip.
  18. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    Video cards do indeed participate in decoding h.264.
  19. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    Yes the CPU is still involved in some parts of decoding and it does depend on the GPU implementation, but generally when they say they support GPU h.264 decoding, there is still a massive difference.

    Near the bottom is a comparison of h.264 and Blu-ray decode between the GMA X3500 in the G35 chipset which does not support h.264 decoding and the GMA X4500HD in the G45 chipset which does. CPU utilization dropped from 86% to 10% for h.264 file decode and 95% to 23% for Blu-ray decode. And this is on a 1.6GHz Celeron. Even the GMA X4500 IGP has no problems with h.264 decode. It's just not a worthwhile feature to buy a separate chip for now that even Intel IGPs support it just fine.

    Incidentally, on these early drivers, the GMA X4500HD is actually within 10-30% of the performance of AMD's HD 3200 IGP which is on mature drivers. Which is fairly decent for an Intel IGP.
  20. darkelipse04 macrumors member


    Nov 5, 2004
    This could be VERY handy for those with Macbooks/Macbook Airs/Mac Minis. The IGP they all have cannot use Open CL (at least right now).
    The Capella platform is the only chipset with true optimized encoding/decoding of H.264 and HD playback.

    Most if not all the work is being done by the CPU right now. The less heat the better. I say bring on this decoding/encoding chip. It will probably be something like Elgato Turbo264 dongle.
  21. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    I stand corrected on that fact. But that doesn't really change the issue I was responding to: The majority of Macs out there don't have hidden hardware that can just be 'turned on.'

    I was incorrect in the way I responded to that, but the central point remains the same.
  22. slu macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2004
    And tablet....
  23. rumf macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2008
    The intersection of Grand Central and dedicated Quicktime encode/decode on the board as well as the "Platform Transition" talk leads me to believe we might see something akin to a "Mac Terminal" in the near future. Take a minimal CPU, add some dedicated codec hardware and interface it to a massively parallel "home server" running over Airport Extreme and you have a whole new home computing paradigm... A mac in every display in your home via an apple tv like device, your iPod touch representing the computing power of a mac pro, your macbook tripling its processing capacity when within network range.

    Lots of threads that can be woven into an interesting story.
  24. Hattig macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2003
    London, UK
    I'm certain that if it is true (and I hope it is) then it is merely about including drivers for the video acceleration that is present in any recent ATI/AMD and NVIDIA graphics card or integrated graphics, and also present in Intel's latest integrated graphics.

    And it will be about time too!
  25. fastbite macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    This is a big deal. To have the ability of standardizing video performance across the board will allow apple to open up to all HD video.

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