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Adarna

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Original poster
Jan 1, 2015
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He makes a very compelling case for the iMac Pro & Mac Pro's Apple Silicon chips.

I still feel bad for 2019 Mac Pro owners. That desktop should have debuted in 2017 instead of the iMac Pro so that owners enjoys over 5 years of use being phased out.
 

GrumpyCoder

macrumors 68020
Nov 15, 2016
2,104
2,685
Well, would be a shame if it wouldn't perform much, much better than Alder Lake i-series. Because that's not the competition. The competition here is Xeon Platinum and AMD Epyc + Nvidia workstation and server class GPUs and that's a totally different story.
 

theorist9

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2015
3,751
2,889
A 4x Max Mac Pro would have some clear potential hardware advantages and disadvantages vs. a PC workstation.

The PC hardware advantages are in the upper-end configurations, and the RAM and GPU shortfalls could be addressed if Apple offered add-on RAM and GPU modues. In deciding on this, Apple will certainly look at what percent of its current Mac Pro sales use the highest RAM and GPU configurations.

Hardware advantages, Mac Pro
  • Extraordinary efficiency
  • Quiet operation
  • Task-specific hardware acceleration, which makes those specific operations run unusually fast
  • High single-core speeds, especially during multi-core operation, when compared to high core-count Intel Xeon and AMD Threadripper chips (the latter need to have reduced clock speeds to avoid overheating, particularly when all cores are running; that's much less of an issue with AS). This would give much faster operation for multi-core apps that can only utilize a limited number of cores.
  • Unified memory gives the GPU access to unusually large amounts of RAM

Hardware advantages, PC workstation
  • Much higher maximum RAM (unless Apple offers add-on RAM modules). A 4X Max will have 256 GB. By contrast, the current-generation Intel and AMD workstation processors (Xeon Ice Lake W3300 and Epyc Milan, respectively) can both support up to 4 TB RAM.
  • Much higher maximum GPU performance (unless Apple offers add-on GPU modules). A 4X Max should have performance about comparable to a single A6000 desktop chip. Current PC workstations can be configured with up to three of these.
  • AMD's highest-capacity workstation CPU, the 64-core Epyc 7763 (Milan generation), may have nearly twice the multicore performance of a 4X Max (not including tasks that are uniquely hardware-accelerated on the Max). According to testing by https://www.anandtech.com/show/16778/amd-epyc-milan-review-part-2/5, the average of Spec 2017 INT and FP aggregate scores for the Epyc 7763 are 7.4 times that for the M1 Max (suggesting it would have 1.85 x the processing power of a 4X Max). OTOH, a 4x Max should about equal the fastest multicore Xeon Ice Lake processor.

There are also clear software advanatages and disadvantages to each, which aren't addressed here.
 
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UBS28

macrumors 68030
Oct 2, 2012
2,893
2,340
Since the Alder Lake is only 40% - 50% faster than a M1 Max according to Geekbench, a 4 x M1 Max Pro would beat it.

It won’t beat an AMD EPYC in maximum performance. But it will win in single core performance tasks.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 68000
Mar 26, 2018
1,689
1,059
I still feel bad for 2019 Mac Pro owners. That desktop should have debuted in 2017 instead of the iMac Pro so that owners enjoys over 5 years of use being phased out.

Mac Pro owners can still enjoy 5 years or more of use. Apple doesn't start winding down support for a Mac until 5 years after it was removed from sale. It is another two years before it is declared obsolete.
 

Adarna

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Jan 1, 2015
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Mac Pro owners can still enjoy 5 years or more of use. Apple doesn't start winding down support for a Mac until 5 years after it was removed from sale. It is another two years before it is declared obsolete.
It isn't the support issue but more on how short the product cycle was before it was replaced.
 

theorist9

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2015
3,751
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I still feel bad for 2019 Mac Pro owners. That desktop should have debuted in 2017 instead of the iMac Pro so that owners enjoys over 5 years of use being phased out.
I'm sure many of the current Mac Pro owners are happy to be working on an Intel machine instead of Apple Silicon right now, while they wait for the AS software ecosystem to mature. Some of the programs they use haven't yet been fully optimized to run fast, and without issue, on AS. By 2023, when the AS Mac Pro comes out, they should be comforable switching. That, and the hardware challenges, is why it makes sense for the AS Mac Pro to be the last AS machine they release, not the first.
 
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GrumpyCoder

macrumors 68020
Nov 15, 2016
2,104
2,685
It isn't the support issue but more on how short the product cycle was before it was replaced.
We don't even know if it will fully be replaced anytime soon. Sure, there are workflows for which the AS MacPro might replace the Intel one, but others probably won't allow that. I'd be a little wowed if Apple pulls it off next year to provide a SoC based MacPro with 1 to 1.5TB of RAM. And if they decide to go "the old way", then that integrated unified memory advantage is gone.
 
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fb3993

macrumors member
Sep 17, 2015
32
21
A 4x Max Mac Pro would have some clear potential hardware advantages and disadvantages vs. a PC workstation.

The PC hardware advantages are in the upper-end configurations, and could be addressed if Apple offered add-on RAM and GPU modues. In deciding on this, Apple will certainly look at what percent of its current Mac Pro sales use the highest RAM and GPU configurations.

Hardware advantages, Mac Pro
  • Extraordinary efficiency
  • Quiet operation
  • Task-specific hardware acceleration, which makes those specific operations run unusually fast
  • High single-core speeds, especially during multi-core operation, when compared to high core-count Intel Xeon and AMD Threadripper chips (the latter need to have reduced clock speeds to avoid overheating, particularly when all cores are running; that's much less of an issue with AS). This would give much faster operation for multi-core apps that can only utilize a limited number of cores.
  • Unified memory gives the GPU access to unusually large amounts of RAM

Hardware advantages, PC workstation
  • Much higher maximum RAM (unless Apple offers add-on RAM modules). A 4X Max will have 256 GB; Ice Lake can have up to 2 TB. Not sure about Threadripper, but it looks like its max is 1 TB.
  • Much higher maximum GPU performance (unless Apple offers add-on GPU modules). A 4X Max should have performance about comparable to a single A6000 desktop chip. Current PC workstations can be configured with up to three of these.

There are also clear software advanatages and disadvantages to each, which aren't addressed here.
Out of curiosity, what kind of workflows need 1TB or even 2TB of RAM?
 
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crazy dave

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2010
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We don't even know if it will fully be replaced anytime soon. Sure, there are workflows for which the AS MacPro might replace the Intel one, but others probably won't allow that. I'd be a little wowed if Apple pulls it off next year to provide a SoC based MacPro with 1 to 1.5TB of RAM. And if they decide to go "the old way", then that integrated unified memory advantage is gone.

Even if it’s DDR5, it can still be unified memory. It’s just that the number of slots would have to be huge.

The rumors are that the current AS Mac Pro will be a “mini Pro” design and there will be one more Intel Mac Pro released based Ice Lake/Sapphire Rapids. There are references to such a thing in Xcode, at the transition Tim Cook said they weren’t done releasing Intel Macs, and an Intel leaker claimed Apple was an Ice Lake server customer.

If true (and historically chips that have shown up in Xcode have been released), Apple could position the first AS Mac Pro in between Alder Lake and the highest end Xeons. Of course that might stretch the definition of “completing the transition within 2 years”.
 

falkon-engine

macrumors 65816
Apr 30, 2010
1,256
3,012
Raptor Lake will double the E-cores, adding even more multithreaded performance for the top i9 Raptor Lake 13900K. Intel isn't standing pat like the past 5 years, and Raptor Cove will add IPC as well for the big cores. AMD isn't standing pat either, Zen 4 ought to be a beast.

ARM vs x86!! x86 has more mileage left in the tank! And even if Apple Silicon comes close to or beats top x86, x86 is still more open than Apple Silicon, and gamers will choose x86 over Apple Silicon any day of the week. Macs while awesome machines, only command 7-10% of the market. If Apple wants to kill x86 then it will need to supply the Lenovos, Dells, HPs of the world with Arm (Apple Silicon) chips... such a move would be a serious blow to x86. But until then, x86 will remain dominant (in terms of market share).
 

mi7chy

macrumors G4
Oct 24, 2014
10,495
11,155
Not falling for the clickbait but why compare to <=$620 consumer desktop Alder Lake? Wait for 3nm Raptor Lake HPC in 2022 for a fair comparison. Plus, what good is fast hardware when hardly any native software exist?
 

crazy dave

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2010
1,363
1,118
If Apple wants to kill x86 then it will need to supply the Lenovos, Dells, HPs of the world with Arm (Apple Silicon) chips... such a move would be a serious blow to x86. But until then, x86 will remain dominant (in terms of market share).

Apple has no interest in doing so. I know some … overly enthusiastic forumers on here have declared that Apple will kill Intel, but the far more serious (arm-based) threat to Intel is from ARM, Qualcomm, Ampere, Nvidia, and the hyperscalers including Microsoft themselves. And of course AMD in x86 land. Apple isn’t a rounding error, they bought a lot of high margin chips from Intel, but alone, no Apple won’t kill x86 or Intel. What Apple’s progress might do and what Intel should be worried about is that the others mentioned above will be … inspired since they see what’s possible.
 

Taz Mangus

macrumors 604
Mar 10, 2011
7,815
3,504
Not falling for the clickbait but why compare to <=$620 consumer desktop Alder Lake? Wait for 3nm Raptor Lake HPC in 2022 for a fair comparison. Plus, what good is fast hardware when hardly any native software exist?
More like 2024 or 2025.
 

sunny5

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2021
1,713
1,586
Much higher maximum RAM (unless Apple offers add-on RAM modules). A 4X Max will have 256 GB; Ice Lake can have up to 2 TB. Not sure about Threadripper, but it looks like its max is 1 TB.
I'm sure it's easy to achieve 1~2TB of unified memory by adding more memories which is simple. Also, unified memory works very differently from normal RAM and VRAM so it's hard to compare them until we actually have ARM Mac Pro.
 

ZipZilla

macrumors 6502
Dec 7, 2003
441
613
It's easy to see why Apple Silicon will arrive in the pro machine last. M1/Max/Pro isn't there yet for workstations. I bet they don't discontinue the intel cheese grater for a few years
 
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Analog Kid

macrumors G3
Mar 4, 2003
9,106
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I'm sure it's easy to achieve 1~2TB of unified memory by adding more memories which is simple. Also, unified memory works very differently from normal RAM and VRAM so it's hard to compare them until we actually have ARM Mac Pro.
Is it really even necessary to build out that much unified memory? If you have 1.6TB/s access to 256GB of RAM in package, why not page it in from a marginally slower external bus to as many DDR5 DIMMS as you care to load?

The number of workloads that will truly require random access from anywhere to anywhere at minimal latency have to be tiny. As it stands, the purpose of system RAM is to keep the caches full without needing the high bandwidth/low latency you have on chip. Why wouldn’t you follow a similar architecture to keep the on package RAMs fresh without needing the moderate bandwidth/moderate latency you have to on package RAM?
 
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