Sidecar will require a 2016 MacBook or later

EugW

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The only 12" MacBooks that support Apple's new Sidecar feature (with iPadOS 13 iPads) are the 2016 models or later.

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/bx3eet/sidecar_support_on_older_macs/

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/side-car-has-anyone-got-it-working.2184104/page-2#post-27432569

here are the models not supported:

iMac13,1iMac13,2iMac13,3iMac14,1iMac14,2iMac14,3iMac14,4iMac15,1iMac16,1iMac16,2MacBook8,1MacBookAir5,1MacBookAir5,2MacBookAir6,1MacBookAir6,2MacBookAir7,1MacBookAir7,2MacBookPro9,1MacBookPro9,2MacBookPro10,1MacBookPro10,2MacBookPro11,1MacBookPro11,2MacBookPro11,3MacBookPro11,4MacBookPro11,5MacBookPro12,1Macmini6,1Macmini6,2Macmini7,1MacPro5,1MacPro6
 
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EugW

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Well, HEVC could be done with software. It may have a chunk of overhead, but it's a Mac Pro.
And yeah, it's darn old... But also sold new until very recently.
Mac Pro 2013 wouldn't be fast enough actually.
 

EugW

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You really don't think so? Lower the bitrate a bit, perhaps write a GPU kernel to use the dual GPUs for some of the work - should be possible I'd say.
? I'm no programmer, but you make it sound like a cakewalk. The whole point of putting the hardware encoder into Apple ARM chips and Intel chips (and higher end recent GPUs) is because HEVC encoding isn't a cakewalk.

However, it should be noted that even if the machines had hardware encoders (and the 2013 Mac Pros don't), Apple doesn't support hardware encoding on any existing non-Apple or non-Intel chips except for the GPUs in the iMac Pros.
 
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casperes1996

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? I'm no programmer, but you make it sound like a cakewalk. The whole point of putting the hardware encoder into Apple ARM chips and Intel chips (and higher end recent GPUs) is because HEVC encoding isn't a cakewalk.
Well, Apple already has what they need in terms of performing software based encoding of HEVC. Whether it's optimised to split the work across the CPU and stream processors as best possible I'm not aware of, and how far the settings would have to go down to get low latency high framework sidecar working I also don't know, but it should definitely be possible - though they'd of course have to strike a compromise between quality, latency and performance cost on the MP, so it may just not be worth it I guess. But it should definitely be possible I'd say.
 

EugW

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Well, Apple already has what they need in terms of performing software based encoding of HEVC. Whether it's optimised to split the work across the CPU and stream processors as best possible I'm not aware of, and how far the settings would have to go down to get low latency high framework sidecar working I also don't know, but it should definitely be possible - though they'd of course have to strike a compromise between quality, latency and performance cost on the MP, so it may just not be worth it I guess. But it should definitely be possible I'd say.
MacRumors claims the 2015 MacBook is supported, as is the 2013 Mac Pro. Hmmmm...

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/sidecar-in-macos-catalina-brings-touch-bar-controls-to-non-touch-bar-mac-users.2184457/

If that’s the case, then it won’t be using HEVC.


It turns out MacRumors was wrong.
 
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casperes1996

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If that’s the case, then it won’t be using HEVC.
That's good. It could still be using a lower quality HEVC encode, since networking is likely the bottleneck for latency, so having to send fewer video packages even if more software encoding is involved could be beneficial. But it could also just be an h.264 stream or something.

Suppose they could also limit it to wired only - If Apple's USB-C port on the iPad supports alt-display modes for actually sending input to the iPad display, it could work like any Thunderbolt Display. Similar to the external display modes available on iMacs prior to the Retina line
 

EugW

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That's good. It could still be using a lower quality HEVC encode, since networking is likely the bottleneck for latency, so having to send fewer video packages even if more software encoding is involved could be beneficial. But it could also just be an h.264 stream or something.

Suppose they could also limit it to wired only - If Apple's USB-C port on the iPad supports alt-display modes for actually sending input to the iPad display, it could work like any Thunderbolt Display. Similar to the external display modes available on iMacs prior to the Retina line
No, if it is using HEVC and there is no hardware HEVC support, then HEVC encoding would be the bottleneck, to the point it wouldn’t actually work. Even a top of the line 2019 8-core iMac wouldn’t be able to do it.

It would need to forego HEVC completely and switch to h.264 or whatever.
 
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casperes1996

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No, if it is using HEVC and there is no hardware HEVC support, then HEVC encoding would be the bottleneck, to the point it wouldn’t actually work. Even a top of the line 2019 8-core iMac wouldn’t be able to do it.

It would need to forego HEVC completely and switch to h.264 or whatever.
MacRumors no longer claim it’s supported on the old Mac Pro anyway
 

EugW

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MacRumors no longer claim it’s supported on the old Mac Pro anyway
I have updated my post mentioning MacRumors to reflect that. 2015 MacBook and 2013 Mac Pro not supported.

Interestingly though, Sidecar works with the iPad Air 2 which has A8X without hardware HEVC decode support.
 

redheeler

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The only 12" MacBooks that support Apple's new Sidecar feature (with iPadOS 13 iPads) are the 2016 models or later.

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/bx3eet/sidecar_support_on_older_macs/

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/side-car-has-anyone-got-it-working.2184104/page-2#post-27432569

here are the models not supported:

iMac13,1iMac13,2iMac13,3iMac14,1iMac14,2iMac14,3iMac14,4iMac15,1iMac16,1iMac16,2MacBook8,1MacBookAir5,1MacBookAir5,2MacBookAir6,1MacBookAir6,2MacBookAir7,1MacBookAir7,2MacBookPro9,1MacBookPro9,2MacBookPro10,1MacBookPro10,2MacBookPro11,1MacBookPro11,2MacBookPro11,3MacBookPro11,4MacBookPro11,5MacBookPro12,1Macmini6,1Macmini6,2Macmini7,1MacPro5,1MacPro6
So just to clarify, the Late 2015 iMac (iMac17,1) is the oldest model that is safe because Skylake supports hardware-accelerated HEVC?

On older models it should be able to fallback to H.264, at the expense of some quality; but for most people it'll be good enough and better than not having the feature at all.
 

EugW

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So just to clarify, the Late 2015 iMac (iMac17,1) is the oldest model that is safe because Skylake supports hardware-accelerated HEVC?
Yes that 2015 iMac is the oldest, presumably because of hardware HEVC encode support.

On older models it should be able to fallback to H.264, at the expense of some quality; but for most people it'll be good enough and better than not having the feature at all.
Ideally it would fall back to h.264 but apparently Apple is not supporting this.
 

redheeler

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Ideally it would fall back to h.264 but apparently Apple is not supporting this.


This image seems to show what I assume is a reduced-quality H.264 version. Apple just needs to make the setting to enable it on older hardware more visible, instead of requiring a command in Terminal.
 

EugW

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This image seems to show what I assume is a reduced-quality H.264 version. Apple just needs to make the setting to enable it on older hardware more visible, instead of requiring a command in Terminal.
This is not a supported configuration as you know, and probably never will be.

How much worse is the h.264 quality? I know some people have complained about the quality of Duet Display.

EDIT:

That pic if representative from the iPad is pretty much unusable IMO. The quality is horrible.

You can overwrite Sidecar preferences to enable it on older Macs. So either it's using HEVC software encoding or H.264.

Based on the low CPU usage, I'd think it's the latter (tested on MacBook Pro 15" 2015 + iPad Pro 12.9").
Software HEVC encoding would effectively be impossible.
 
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redheeler

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This is not a supported configuration as you know, and probably never will be.
Apple has yet to specify any official hardware requirements for Sidecar. It's possible that this list of unsupported models is only temporary while Catalina is in beta.

In any case, putting in the H.264 fallback and hidden setting to bypass the model check was a conscious decision I'm glad they made. Wouldn't be surprised to see it detailed in a future support document at the very least.
[doublepost=1559919934][/doublepost]
That pic if representative from the iPad is pretty much unusable IMO. The quality is horrible.
Doesn't look any worse than the non-Apple solutions that have existed up to this point, assuming whoever took the screenshot was purposefully dragging around the window to show the compression artifacts.
 
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Andropov

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Doesn't look any worse than the non-Apple solutions that have existed up to this point, assuming whoever took the screenshot was purposefully dragging around the window to show the compression artifacts.
It looks like that even when the screen has been static for a while. It *is* worse than any other solution I had tried (Air Display and Duet Display), at least video quality wise, but the lag is surprisingly almost non existent, even when dragging windows and stuff.
 

212rikanmofo

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I have an early 2015 12" MacBook Retina... has anyone tried this method to enable sidecar support for unsupported macs?

 

EugW

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Apple has yet to specify any official hardware requirements for Sidecar. It's possible that this list of unsupported models is only temporary while Catalina is in beta.
While it is true Apple sometimes changes the system requirements for a feature once the final OS release is available, usually what happens is that Apple becomes MORE restrictive, not less restrictive.

In this case, I expect the supported system requirements we have now are exactly what we will see at release, since it is dependent upon a very specific hardware feature. Either your machine has hardware 8-bit HEVC encode support or it doesn't.

I have an early 2015 12" MacBook Retina... has anyone tried this method to enable sidecar support for unsupported macs?

Reading through this twitter thread...

https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/1136411143797391363

...and through our MacRumors thread and others, tells us that if you use the hack on unsupported machines:

1. It may not work at all.
2. If it does work, it may not work consistently.
3. Also if it does work, the quality is often sub-par.
4. However, the good news is that the latency is quite low.

It seems like the third party methods may have decent quality but often have increased latency at the same time, but Apple wants both decent quality and low latency, so that's why it requires hardware HEVC encode support.

---

In any case, I recently picked up a USB-C to Lightning cable so not only will I get USB 3 transfer speeds for my iPad Pro transfers, I will also be able to connect to my 2017 Core m3 MacBook for Sidecar without having to use any dongles. I can also carry around a single USB-C charger for both devices.

On the flip side, I can't keep the MacBook charged unless I use a dongle that adds USB-C power pass-though, or else just use WiFi for Sidecar.
 
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Anonymous Freak

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Software HEVC encoding would effectively be impossible.
Just to clarify what EugW means, for those who don't quite understand - yes, older systems can do HEVC encoding in software - I do it on my 2012 MacBook Pro all the time. But to encode a 1080p video to HEVC on my older MBP takes about 300x real-time. To export a one minute video took five hours.

Yes, it's possible to do HEVC encoding on the older machines - but not fast enough to run an external display. And while some machines *MAY* be just capable of it, you wouldn't have any CPU time left to do anything useful.
 
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EugW

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I couldn't get Sidecar to work on my 2017 MacBook with Catalina Public Beta 1. It sees my iPadOS 13 Public Beta 1 iPad Pro 10.5", but it can never connect to it. I've tried WiFi, Bluetooth, and wired, but none work.