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Macs Need T2 Security Chip to Play 4K HDR Netflix in macOS Big Sur

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Apple's upcoming macOS Big Sur operating system introduces HDR video support and allows Netflix users to watch content in 4K HDR for the first time. However, it turns out that only Macs with an Apple T2 Security chip are compatible with Ultra HD streaming.


Apple Terminal spotted a recently updated support document on Netflix's Help Center that now includes hardware requirements for viewing 4K HDR content in Safari on macOS Big Sur.

According to the web page, viewing Ultra HD content can only be achieved on a "select 2018 or later Mac computer with an Apple T2 Security chip." In addition to that, every monitor connected to the computer on which Ultra HD is streamed must be a 60Hz 4K capable display with a HDCP 2.2 connection.

It's not clear why Macs need a T2 security chip to play back 4K HDR content, given that Windows machines obviously don't, but it could be that this is Netflix's way of ensuring that viewers aren't trying to stream the high-definition content on older Macs, which could result in less-than-stellar performance.

The following Macs have the Apple T2 Security Chip, and can therefore stream Netflix in Ultra HD on macOS Big Sur:
  • iMac introduced in 2020
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019
  • Mac mini introduced in 2018
  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 or later
macOS Big Sur is now up to its ninth public beta, and is likely to officially debut sometime this month.

Article Link: Macs Need T2 Security Chip to Play 4K HDR Netflix in macOS Big Sur
 

farewelwilliams

macrumors 601
Jun 18, 2014
4,359
16,671
T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.

EDIT: for those who don't believe:

Screen Shot 2020-10-01 at 2.23.42 AM.png
 
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fromsixtozero

macrumors member
Mar 8, 2019
39
102
T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.

Well at least they could give me the choice to lose battery life or performance and display a pop up "Your mac is old, performance might suck, switch to full hd"

Still don´t believe macs from 2015/2017 couldnt play it, when my medicore TV from 2015 can.
 
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ruka.snow

macrumors 6502a
Jun 6, 2017
906
2,520
Scotland
Well at least they could give me the choice to lose battery life or performance and display a pop up "Your mac is old, performance might suck, switch to full hd"

Still don´t believe macs from 2015/2017 couldnt play it, when my medicore TV from 2015 can.

That is not very Apple and flies right in the face of "It just works". Apple's laptops are known for their exceptional battery life and something that drains your battery 2-3x quicker or worse really flies in the face of that.
 
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MacModMachine

macrumors 68020
Apr 3, 2009
2,381
269
Canada
T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.

terrible explanation....T2 has nothing to do with playing video. the decoding is all handled with the GPU , intel gpu's all have hardware decoders. matter in fact. i just tried this on both my macbook pro's one with t2 and one without. the cpu load was the same.

bs.
 
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farewelwilliams

macrumors 601
Jun 18, 2014
4,359
16,671
Well at least they could give me the choice to lose battery life or performance and display a pop up "Your mac is old, performance might suck, switch to full hd"

Still don´t believe macs from 2015/2017 couldnt play it, when my medicore TV from 2015 can.

Apple gives you the choice of using Chrome which would require Netflix to support.
 
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rkuo

macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2010
914
440
That is not very Apple and flies right in the face of "It just works". Apple's laptops are known for their exceptional battery life and something that drains your battery 2-3x quicker or worse really flies in the face of that.
So does a laptop that can’t play video. Jesus, some people will make an excuse for anything.
 
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Wando64

macrumors 65816
Jul 11, 2013
1,042
1,233
The one thing that worries me about the move to Apple silicon is that they would have complete control over offering new functionalities only for new hardware, in the same way they are doing with iPads from time to time.
This news does not ease my worries.
 
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farewelwilliams

macrumors 601
Jun 18, 2014
4,359
16,671
terrible explanation....T2 has nothing to do with playing video. the decoding is all handled with the GPU , intel gpu's all have hardware decoders. matter in fact. i just tried this on both my macbook pro's one with t2 and one without. the cpu load was the same.

bs.


Stupid comment. T2 literally has a hardware HEVC codec built right in. Please educate yourself next time before calling "bs".
Screen Shot 2020-10-01 at 2.23.42 AM.png
 
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wumpalumpa

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2020
75
89
terrible explanation....T2 has nothing to do with playing video. the decoding is all handled with the GPU , intel gpu's all have hardware decoders. matter in fact. i just tried this on both my macbook pro's one with t2 and one without. the cpu load was the same.

bs.
just Apple excuses to make you buy a new mac

Apple users have money sooo, they should change their devices frequently, doesnt matter if an Android TV box can play 4k, we tell you cannot because you dont have the cryptographic chipset (which has nothing to do with video procress) and thats all

for those who vote negative. if is not just an apple excuse...

why my Android TV box can play Netflix 4k?

 
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JoelTheSuperior

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2014
403
441
London, UK
Stupid comment. T2 literally has a hardware HEVC codec built right in. Please educate yourself next time before calling "bs".
View attachment 961738
The T2 chip does have a video encoder built in, and it is genuinely fantastic, but it is by no means required for the DRM on Netflix's 4k content which works just fine on a Windows PC with an appropriate video encoder, either on the Intel CPU or an Nvidia graphics card.
 
Comment

iamasmith

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2015
670
219
Cheshire, UK
terrible explanation....T2 has nothing to do with playing video. the decoding is all handled with the GPU , intel gpu's all have hardware decoders. matter in fact. i just tried this on both my macbook pro's one with t2 and one without. the cpu load was the same.

bs.


Actually the T2 does have image signal processing capabilities and it's likely by the sound of it that a feature offered to the brower is provided by one specific API that in the Apple implementation uses the T2 if it's got it, or says that the feature isn't present if the T2 cannot be utilised.

Sure, you can use GPU for decoding, or CPU for that matter, but it seems that Apple are using T2 specific features for this particular API.
 
Comment

Azeroth1

macrumors regular
Apr 20, 2010
249
566
“but it could be that this is Netflix's way of ensuring that viewers aren't trying to stream the high-definition content on older Macs, which could result in less-than-stellar performance.”

This sounds ridiculous. 4K streaming existed on way older hardware just fine without a T2 chip. Even if t2 has codecs and helps, it simply can’t be a “requirement.” That’s the part that sticks out - “requirement”. Optimized? Ok.

Or said another way, by this logic all hardware predating 2018 isn’t powerful enough without a t2 chip to stream 4K on its own?
 
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farewelwilliams

macrumors 601
Jun 18, 2014
4,359
16,671
The T2 chip does have a video encoder built in, and it is genuinely fantastic, but it is by no means required for the DRM on Netflix's 4k content which works just fine on a Windows PC with an appropriate video encoder, either on the Intel CPU or an Nvidia graphics card.

T2's chip is far more efficient than using the dedicated GFX for video decoding.
And don't forget the AES algo which T2's built in AES crypto engine handles quite well with Apple's FairPlay DRM.

I never said a MacBook Pro 2017 couldn't do it, but in Apple's eyes, it's not good UX.

Apple knows you have a choice to use Chrome, so it would be up to Netflix to implement Chrome support for older Macs.
 
Comment

abrooks

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2004
634
160
London, UK
Cancelled Netflix years ago for Pureflix never looked back. Even tho we've got a 2020 MacBook Air this T2 chip is nonsense

These things are not alike...

Pure Flix (stylized as PURE FLIX) is an evangelical Christian film production and distribution studio founded by David A. R. White and Russell Wolfe, inspired by Netflix.
 
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dannys1

macrumors 68030
Sep 19, 2007
2,919
5,251
UK
T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.

EDIT: for those who don't believe:

View attachment 961739

Exactly this - very surprised the Macrumors author didn't know this...
 
Comment

eulslix

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2016
458
575
The one thing that worries me about the move to Apple silicon is that they would have complete control over offering new functionalities only for new hardware, in the same way they are doing with iPads from time to time.
This news does not ease my worries.

Exactly this! I would really love to upgrade my 16“ MBP to ARM, but most lately apple is behaving like a dominant market force that prioritizes business brute force over customer experience.

But what’s the alternative then? Sticking with a MBP which is very quickly going to be phased out by Apple with „ARM exclusive features“. At the same time, I really don’t want to switch to windows, I really like macOS, other than the ever increasing number of bugs. There’s really not enough competition on the market, either way you’re trapped with **** companies...
 
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