Ivy Bridge to Offer Faster Graphics and OpenCL Support in MacBook Airs

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Apr 12, 2001
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As noted by CNet, one of the areas of focus in Intel's next generation Ivy Bridge processors is the graphics processing unit (GPU). Anandtech reports that Intel expects there to be a 60% improvement in graphics benchmarks over Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics. Sandy Bridge is the current generation Intel CPU that ships in Apple's computers.



During this week's developer's conference, CNet relays that Intel also confirmed that Ivy Bridge's integrated GPU will offer OpenCL support for the first time. OpenCL is an Apple-backed framework that makes it easier for developers to offload general non-graphical work to GPUs. It was first introduced in Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and was described by Apple:
Snow Leopard further extends support for modern hardware with Open Computing Language (OpenCL), which lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications. OpenCL is based on the C programming language and has been proposed as an open standard.
Apple has continued support for OpenCL in OS X Lion and presently presently lists these graphics cards or processors as providing support for OpenCL:
- NVIDIA GeForce 320M, GeForce GT 330M, GeForce 9400M, GeForce 9600M GT, GeForce 8600M GT, GeForce GT 120, GeForce GT 130, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 8800 GS, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX5600
- ATI Radeon HD 4670, ATI Radeon HD 4850, Radeon HD 4870, ATI Radeon HD 5670, ATI Radeon HD 5750, ATI Radeon HD 5770, ATI Radeon HD 5870
- AMD Radeon HD 6750M, AMD Radeon HD 6770M, AMD Radeon HD 6970M
If your machine does not have any of these graphics processors listed, you can't take full advantage of OpenCL enabled applications. Notably absent from the list are the Intel integrated graphics systems that presently power the MacBook Airs and 13" MacBook Pros.

The quality of Intel's integrated graphics processor performance has been long discussed over the past year. Due to the small size of the MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro, it's not feasible for Apple to include a discrete 3rd party graphics card to boost GPU performance. Instead, those models must rely on the graphics processor integrated into the CPU/chipset itself. In the past, Apple had used the better performing NVIDIA integrated graphics, but due to a legal dispute with Intel, NVIDIA was unable to continue manufacturing those chipsets. This year's MacBook Air finally made the transition from NVIDIA graphics to Intel graphics, though was seen as a downgrade by some.

When it's launched in 2012, Ivy Bridge should bring some welcome graphical performance improvements to Apple's MacBook Air line, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers. OpenCL support is another nice addition that should also make its way into the 2012 MacBook Airs.

Article Link: Ivy Bridge to Offer Faster Graphics and OpenCL Support in MacBook Airs
 
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Yumunum

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2011
1,452
0
U.S.
waiting is so hard to do...
I know...

I'm sitting here with my 2011 Air. A 60% graphic power would actually make playing games feasible. I mean, I didn't buy this specifically for gaming (that'd be pretty dumb), but I like to play some sandbox games for fun.
 

DESNOS

macrumors 6502
Aug 24, 2011
374
1
I know...

I'm sitting here with my 2011 Air. A 60% graphic power would actually make playing games feasible. I mean, I didn't buy this specifically for gaming (that'd be pretty dumb), but I like to play some sandbox games for fun.
I can't wait till I can hook up an external GPU and a cheap monitor to thunderbolt. Instant gaming mac, and extremely easy to upgrade too.

EDIT: Hmm... Come to think of it, Thunderbolt itself may have been Apple's answer to all those people who wanted to customize their macs. It essentially gives you what you need to do so, but externally so you don't have to open your machine up. Interesting thought. ^.^
 

MetalMoon

macrumors member
Dec 11, 2010
46
0
San Jose
And by the time Ivy Bridge comes out, the wait clocks reset for next's year faster and greater clip. Will it ever end?
 

Dreamer2go

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2007
650
238
I am waiting for Ivy Bridge macbook pro (presume it's a redesign)

my Santa Rosa mid 2007 MBP is screaming of death.........
waiting is so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

SiriusExcelsior

macrumors regular
Dec 6, 2003
113
4
Canis Major
I thought Ivy Bridge was just a die shrink? Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics was apparently already loads better than the gen 1 Core i's wasn't it?

And Apple missed out the 6490M in that list and nearly gave me a heart attack. Google saved my life. :rolleyes:

And by the time Ivy Bridge comes out, the wait clocks reset for next's year faster and greater clip. Will it ever end?
IT NEVA WILL!! :D:D
Until we exhaust the potential of quantum computing.. yea.
 

mdriftmeyer

Suspended
Feb 2, 2004
3,252
993
Pacific Northwest
Apple has continued support for OpenCL in OS X Lion and presently presently lists these graphics cards or processors as providing support for OpenCL:
Do you even think before writing such a statement? Seriously, they are driving this technology and you preface it as if they are moving on from it.

OpenCL has just begun.
 

Mattsasa

macrumors 68020
Apr 12, 2010
2,333
735
Minnesota
You know, ...... The MacBook air never ceases to amaze me. It just blows my mind.

Oh and other ultra books are equally impressive.
 

Yumunum

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2011
1,452
0
U.S.
I can't wait till I can hook up an external GPU and a cheap monitor to thunderbolt. Instant gaming mac, and extremely easy to upgrade too.

EDIT: Hmm... Come to think of it, Thunderbolt itself may have been Apple's answer to all those people who wanted to customize their macs. It essentially gives you what you need to do so, but externally so you don't have to open your machine up. Interesting thought. ^.^
Agreed. I want the Thunderbolt display to have a GPU, so that my Air can actually power the darn thing
 

SandynJosh

macrumors 68000
Oct 26, 2006
1,652
2
I am waiting for Ivy Bridge macbook pro (presume it's a redesign)

my Santa Rosa mid 2007 MBP is screaming of death.........
waiting is so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tell me about it, I'm getting by on a late 2006 MBP, waiting for a MBA with decent graphic abilities. I'd be fine if the graphic programs and even browsers didn't keep upping the ante for minimum needed performance.

To think I once was amazed at what I could do while running Photoshop on a Mac II with 8 megs of RAM.
 

AppleScruff1

macrumors G4
Feb 10, 2011
10,026
2,948
The Ivy Bridge Airs are going to be even sweeter than the current MBA, and that is quite a beauty too. Intel is really doing some outstanding innovation with these new chips. We all win. I wonder when these new MBA's will become available. March or April?
 

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space
Great news for the Air.

But, generally speaking:

Will the day come when we won't get goose bumps from hearing the word "integrated graphics"?
 

JohnPhamlore

macrumors regular
Aug 3, 2011
125
10
Is Sandy Bridge graphics the graphics Core Duo vs Core 2 Duo

Reading articles such as

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/intels-sandy-bridge-architecture-exposed/5

it seems to me there's quite a difference in graphics technology that is reflected in the OpenGL standards--the shift from fixed function pipelines to fully programmable hardware. According to the Anandtech article, Intel chose to optimize the fixed functionality of Sandy Bridge which is good enough for most present ordinary applications.

The problem it seems to me is that if Apple wishes to continue its strategy of efficiency through pruning what is no longer needed, it would be much more efficient to drop upgrade support for platforms that do not support fully programmable graphics hardware, that is, Intel integrated graphics in Sandy Bridge and before. I believe Apple's mobile platforms the iPhone and iPad which use PowerVR graphics have always supported full programmability.
 

LegendarySlayer

macrumors newbie
Jul 20, 2011
15
0
More Power :O

This machinery will be overpowering my fully customized 8GB i7 2010 MBP 17' now :eek: :p , if it not already is.
 

christian_k

macrumors 6502
May 31, 2005
331
3
Germany
I hope Intel fixes this soon.

The lack of OpenCL in the current Intel chip is a problem if you want to do video editing as a hobbyist. In many situations iMovie is too limited and FCE has been discontinued in favor of FCP-X.

But since FCP-X requires OpenCL there is a strange situation: FCP-X even runs on older MacBook Air models, but not on current(!) 13'' MBP or some current MacMinis.

I know someone will answer this with something like "get ma Mac Pro" - But remember, even MBA is much faster than some old G5 systems that were perfectly capable of serious video editing. So a 13'' MBP (at least when connected to a larger screen) is suitable for hobbyist video editing.

Ok the obvious solution is: Use some other video software. Probably not what Apple wants...

Christian
 
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