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Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
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May 20, 2010
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Today's refresh of the Intel-based 27" iMac was very interesting. And in classic Apple fashion, the most interesting elements were in what WASN'T announced rather than what was. First off, some facts:

- The 27" iMac got a top-to-bottom refresh of everything except its external design (pretty sure that due to thermal restrictions on Intel's chips, this was never going to be in the cards until we landed at the other end of the Apple Silicon transition). This includes the love-it-or-hate-it T2 chip along with either soldered on or damn-near-impossible-to-upgrade SSD-only storage. We got 10th Gen Intel (up to 10 Core!) and we got AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series as well as a 1080p camera with True-Tone displays and that nano-texture option!

- The 21.5" iMac got none of that. Best you can say here is that hard-drive-only options are now gone and that all models come standard with an SSD with the option of moving to either a bigger Fusion Drive or an SSD. The hardware here is otherwise unchanged. It is still a 2019 21.5" iMac rocking 8th Generation Intel. No T2 chip either, for whatever that's worth.

- The iMac Pro got a change in its lone stock option; the 8-core Xeon is replaced with a 10-core Xeon on the low-end. No other changes here. Not even that nano-texture display option.

Given all of this, here's my theory on what that spells for the Apple Silicon transition:

- The 21.5" iMac, at least in its current Intel-based form, is REALLY NOT long for this world. If the iMac side of the Apple Silicon Mac rumors are true, and the 21.5" Intel iMac will become the 24" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given the 16" MacBook Pro's bezel-shrinking treatment) while the 27" Intel iMac eventually will become the 30" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given said bezel-shrinking treatment), THEN the 24" Apple Silicon iMac is, indeed, going first as far as iMacs are concerned.

- The only reason not to update the 21.5" iMac in tandem with the 27" iMac (as was done in 2019) is because the 30" Apple Silicon iMac needs more time in the oven (specifically an Apple Silicon SoC that can run rings around that 10-core 10th Gen Core i9 doesn't yet exist and will need more time to actually develop and engineer) and the 21.5" iMac's successor (the rumored 24" Apple Silicon iMac) is ready to launch soon.

- The iMac Pro is likely not making the jump. It not getting the nano-texture option in today's updates is telling. It may, however, linger after the 27" Intel non-Pro iMac gets replaced by a 30" Apple Silicon iMac for those that need an x86 iMac. Or it may get discontinued and the 27" iMac that came out today may linger. Or both may disappear when the Apple Silicon replacement to today's 27" iMac comes out. I'd say that last option is most likely (as the incumbent tower Mac has usually served well as the legacy option for desktops; the only reason to keep any 27" Intel iMac around for that purpose would be because the Mac Pro is otherwise prohibitively expensive and the need to stay on x86 isn't just limited to the high end).

- Apple already has the technology to replace pretty much every 8th Gen Intel processor based Mac still being sold (so, the 2020 two-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the 21.5" iMac) with a markedly faster Apple Silicon SoC based model today. The A12Z in the current iPad Pro and the Apple Silicon DTK are proof of that. Selling users on the performance gains of Apple Silicon over 8th Gen Intel will be easy. They'll do what they did in the PowerPC-to-Intel days and compare gains specifically from predecessor models on the old architecture ("4x faster performance!") and that'll be enough to persuade people to buy the newer Macs without tossing THAT much shade on the Intel models that aren't ready to make the jump yet (just as no one really cared about the Core Duo iMac from the standpoint of it being a Power Mac G5 Quad replacement prior to the first Mac Pro).

- Apple also already has the technology to replace the 10th Gen processors in the MacBook Air and the 2020 four-port 13" MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon SoCs that run rings around them. Again, the A12Z is proof of this. It's strange that both machines would get such recent updates and also be first in line for the transition, though Apple did do similar releases with the PowerPC to Intel transition. Then again, as I've stated before, all lower-end Macs (21.5" iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, all 13" MacBook Pros) are fair game to go first as the bar is relatively low and Apple can beat it handily RIGHT NOW. (Whereas their ability to go beyond that is speculative at the current moment.)

- The 2020 MacBook Air has thermal issues stemming from the fact that Intel's 10th Gen Y-series CPUs are still too underpowered for Apple's thermal envelope (though why they didn't put in a heat pipe is still dumbfounding to me). This has been a problem for the MacBook Air since its inception (perhaps excluding the 2010-2017 body style). It will behoove Apple to move this Mac over to Apple Silicon as soon as it can.

- Apple not updating the two-port 13" MacBook Pro with 10th Gen is about as analogous to the minimal update that the 21.5" iMac received today as one can get. Clearly, both Macs (along with the 4-port version of the 13") is, as rumors are predicting, likely to move to Apple Silicon first. The Mac mini's "update" earlier this year is similar as well. All three are 8th-gen Intel based. They're all important Macs in Apple's line-up too (being the first choice for budget-conscious buyers and low-end users). It's much easier to overtake Intel, when you're overtaking Intel's technology from two years ago.

- The 16" MacBook Pro (at least at its high end), along with the 27" iMac and Mac Pro will need more time to develop Apple Silicon SoCs that surpass their current performance. By "more time", I'm talking about a year, if not a year and a half at most. But, given how Apple handles sensitive transitions, they'll likely keep the Intel version around for those that NEED x86 for a while thereafter. (Apple will otherwise consider the transition to be complete when every one of their Macs has an Apple Silicon option rather than the moment when the Intel options disappear from sale.) Apple did this with the iBook G4 and the Power Mac G5 after the Intel switch was completed with the launch of the first Mac Pro. Apple did this again in 2013 when transitioning to the Retina MacBook Pro design from the Unibody designs and then again in 2016 when transitioning to the TouchBar design (by keeping the 2015 MacBook Pro around for an additional two years). We likely will see an extended transition time for the Mac Pro as well (with the Intel version lingering around after the Apple Silicon version is released for those that have a myriad of plugins that are taking their sweet time to become ARM64-native).

- Apple separating releases within the same product line (i.e. 16" MacBook Pro and 2020 13" MacBook Pro, 2020 27" iMac and 2019 21.5" iMac) is probably the most telling. They clearly need to do this because, during this transition, not every MacBook Pro will make the jump at the same time. Same goes for the iMac. This was true of Apple's laptops during the PowerPC to Intel transition too (15" was first, 17" followed two months later, followed by the merger of the 12" PowerBook with the iBook to make the first MacBooks), however, it wasn't true of Apple's iMacs. I do believe that it will be different this time around. I feel this way because, unlike in the late PowerPC and early Intel eras, the later Intel era has huge performance disparities between lower-end models (21.5" iMac and 13" MacBook Pros, for example) and higher-end models (27" iMacs and 16" MacBook Pros, for example). The 17" and 20" iMacs of 2005 and 2006 were not as far apart in performance. Nor were the 12" and 15" PowerBook G4s of that era.

- Apple has to account for all of this in marketing the newer Apple Silicon models; every Apple Silicon Mac model has to at least be substantially faster than its fastest possible Intel predecessor in order for that Mac model to be ready to make the jump.

tl;dr: Lower-end Macs are making the jump to Apple Silicon first; the iMac Pros days are numbered, and the clues are all in today's announcements!
 
Last edited:

pappkristof

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2015
102
174
Just a guess.

2020 November:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 spring:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air

(Hopefully) 2021 fall:
iMac 32”
MacBook Pro 16”

2022 WWDC:
Mac Pro

So the transition would be finished in exactly 2 years.

I don’t know what they will do with the iMac Pro though. Maybe keep around for premium features like ECC ram and micro led display.
 
Last edited:

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,184
19,037
Very reasonable analysis!

A short note about the iMac Pro — one potential reason why it didn't get a more substantial update is because there was nothing to update it with. Although I agree with you that skipping the nano-texture treatment is at least suspicious.
 

dugbug

macrumors 68000
Aug 23, 2008
1,865
1,926
Somewhere in Florida
Just a guess.

2020 November:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 spring:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air

(Hopefully) 2021 fall:
iMac 32”
MacBook Pro 16”

2022 WWDC:
Mac Pro

While I want that imac now I think this is the order based on integrated graphics vs discrete:

2020 November:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 WWDC:
Apple dGPU support

2021 spring:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 16”

2021 fall:
iMac 27"
iMac Pro
Mac Pro
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
6,139
6,990
Just a guess.

2020 November:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 spring:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air

(Hopefully) 2021 fall:
iMac 32”
MacBook Pro 16”

2022 WWDC:
Mac Pro

So the transition would be finished in exactly 2 years.

I don’t know what they will do with the iMac Pro though. Maybe keep around for premium features like ECC ram and micro led display.
It definitely seems the 24" iMac and MBP 13" will be the first to arrive, I wonder if this means they will share hardware? Currently of course the 13" MBP uses the 15/28W U series chips while the iMac uses very different 60W desktop parts, but my mind flashes back to that WWDC slide implying desktop performance with notebook power draw:

apple-custom-silicon-mac.jpg
 

pappkristof

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2015
102
174
I’m really tempted to 27” iMac
While I want that imac now I think this is the order based on integrated graphics vs discrete:

2020 November:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 WWDC:
Apple dGPU support

2021 spring:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 16”

2021 fall:
iMac 27"
iMac Pro
Mac Pro

But the 2021 WWDC should be after spring.

There were so many rumors about a redesigned iMac that I think it should arrive sooner. In a 24” form factor.
 

pappkristof

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2015
102
174
It definitely seems the 24" iMac and MBP 13" will be the first to arrive, I wonder if this means they will share hardware? Currently of course the 13" MBP uses the 15/28W U series chips while the iMac uses very different 60W desktop parts, but my mind flashes back to that WWDC slide implying desktop performance with notebook power draw:

apple-custom-silicon-mac.jpg
I hope they won’t use the same CPUs, because it’d leave a lot of unused thermal potential in the iMac.
 

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,184
19,037
While I want that imac now I think this is the order based on integrated graphics vs discrete

There are unlikely to be any dGPUs, at least not in the "traditional" sense. For the smaller iMac, the current Apple SoC approach is more than sufficient. For larger stuff, they will either need to build a "monster SoC" or split up CPU/GPU into some sort of chiplet structure, while having them share the same cache and memory controller.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
6,139
6,990
I hope they won’t use the same CPUs, because it’d leave a lot of unused thermal potential in the iMac.
It would, although the smaller model seems to be more of a general use/ consumer focused machine, while its the 27" that seems to be bought for the more demanding tasks. Assuming the Apple Silicon chip actually could match the current 21.5" in performance anyway, would it matter hugely?

At the moment we're still thinking in Intel product stack terms, but Apple Silicon doesn't necessarily have to mirror that, the chips could be based around meeting the needs of the target market for each product segment:

Basic use: MacBook Air 12" and 14" - A14M

Competent allrounders: MacBook Pro 13"/ iMac 24"/ Mac Mini - A14MX

Powerful machines: MacBook Pro 16"/ iMac 30" - A14M Pro

Professional machines: Mac Pro/ iMac Pro(?) - A14M extreme
 

pappkristof

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2015
102
174
For me, on a desktop power consumption does not really matter. On a portable device however that is a key feature for Pro and non-Pro devices both.
I think that is the reason why Intel offers different lineups of CPUs for desktops and laptops. And Apple should do it too. Maybe share a chipset between Mac Mini / iMac 24” / MacBook Pro 16”. (As something like that is already done)
 

pappkristof

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2015
102
174
There are unlikely to be any dGPUs, at least not in the "traditional" sense. For the smaller iMac, the current Apple SoC approach is more than sufficient. For larger stuff, they will either need to build a "monster SoC" or split up CPU/GPU into some sort of chiplet structure, while having them share the same cache and memory controller.

Has Apple stated anything about dropping AMD GPUs? They might keep them in the higher end models, while using integrated ones (Apple designed) in the lower end / lower power consumption models.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
6,139
6,990
For me, on a desktop power consumption does not really matter. On a portable device however that is a key feature for Pro and non-Pro devices both.
I think that is the reason why Intel offers different lineups of CPUs for desktops and laptops. And Apple should do it too. Maybe share a chipset between Mac Mini / iMac 24” / MacBook Pro 16”. (As something like that is already done)
I think comparing Intel and Apple Silicon watt for watt might be misleading; they could (indeed probably do) scale entirely differently, meaning Intel chips gain a lot more performance by pumping in 60+ watts vs 45 or 28, but for Apple Silicon, the gain might be a lot lower, removing the need to create really high power draw chips.

You'll notice on the illustrative chart they provided, the blue area doesn't go along the X axis as far as current desktop chips, so that suggests the whole CPU family might only scale up to maybe 45W or so. The 16" MacBook Pro and new 30" iMac might get a 35W-45W chip, with the 13" MBP and 24" iMac being at around 28W and MacBook Air around 10W. But though these TDPs are a lot lower, these chips would still directly compare in performance to the more power hungry Intel equivalent in each model.

Just an idea, but ultimately I think the established ideas of performance: power draw are about to become obsolete!
 

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,184
19,037
Has Apple stated anything about dropping AMD GPUs? They might keep them in the higher end models, while using integrated ones (Apple designed) in the lower end / lower power consumption models.

What Apple said is that Macs with Apple Silicon will use Apple GPUs. While I agree that it’s open to interpretation somehow, they also said that Apple Silicon Macs will feature unified memory architecture, which pretty much excludes dedicated GPUs. We’ve spent some time discussing potential practical i,Oli action of this in a number of threads. Personally, I believe that Apple will use in-house designed CPU and GPU across all Macs, with higher end models using HBM as system RAM to make them competitive with dGPUs.
 

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,184
19,037
For me, on a desktop power consumption does not really matter. On a portable device however that is a key feature for Pro and non-Pro devices both.
I think that is the reason why Intel offers different lineups of CPUs for desktops and laptops. And Apple should do it too. Maybe share a chipset between Mac Mini / iMac 24” / MacBook Pro 16”. (As something like that is already done)

That’s not really the message Apple was emphasizing. What they are trying to say is that they have excellent performance per watt. This doesn’t mean “we will make desktops with low power consumption”. This was more along the lines “we will make faster desktops at similar power consumption”.
 

Realityck

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Nov 9, 2015
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Silicon Valley, CA
\
That’s not really the message Apple was emphasizing. What they are trying to say is that they have excellent performance per watt. This doesn’t mean “we will make desktops with low power consumption”. This was more along the lines “we will make faster desktops at similar power consumption”.
Achieving better CPU/GPU processing with similar consumption as todays desktops is a good goal. But be forewarned more powerful SoC's run hot also.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
Original poster
May 20, 2010
5,789
2,378
Los Angeles, CA
Just a guess.

2020 November:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 spring:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air

(Hopefully) 2021 fall:
iMac 32”
MacBook Pro 16”

2022 WWDC:
Mac Pro

So the transition would be finished in exactly 2 years.

I don’t know what they will do with the iMac Pro though. Maybe keep around for premium features like ECC ram and micro led display.

The iMac Pro was originally introduced and produced as a stop-gap for those wanting an update to the cylinder but not being able to wait for the 2019 Mac Pro. Toward that end, I'm kind of surprised it's still around today. I don't know what anyone would want with one over the other (unless 8, now 10-core starting cost for $1000 less is the reason why) I can't imagine that Apple won't consolidate any Apple Silicon equivalent features into a singular 27" iMac + iMac Pro replacement.

A fine analysis. Decided to wait for Apple Silicon: while there is some good value in the high end base 27", my 2013 27" seems to be hanging on, and I do not want to spend almost $3k on another intel Mac.

I'll wait and see on the 24" Apple Silicon iMac.

Thank you! Yeah, if you're not needing anything x86-specific, it makes all the sense in the world to wait. I'm probably going with an Intel Four Port 2020 13" MacBook Pro because x86 virtualization (and eventual Boot Camp use) is important to me. That and I remember fondly (and not-so-fondly) getting the first 20" Intel iMac. I don't mind making this jump later on. I'm actually very excited for everyone around me to make the jump first! It will be cool to get a preview of what's in store down the road!


While I want that imac now I think this is the order based on integrated graphics vs discrete:

2020 November:
Mac Mini
MacBook Air
MacBook Pro 13”

2021 WWDC:
Apple dGPU support

2021 spring:
iMac 24”
MacBook Pro 16”

2021 fall:
iMac 27"
iMac Pro
Mac Pro

Apple has said that all of their GPUs will be integrated. That doesn't mean that they won't make a pro-tier graphics to differentiate the higher-end Macs from the lower-end ones. But I think the days of such graphics disparities are over when the Intel era is. I'm totally cool with that though. Intel's integrated graphics really were a blight on the Intel Mac era at large. Macs that were not 15+" MacBook Pros, iMacs, or Mac Pros really did suffer for it.

It definitely seems the 24" iMac and MBP 13" will be the first to arrive, I wonder if this means they will share hardware? Currently of course the 13" MBP uses the 15/28W U series chips while the iMac uses very different 60W desktop parts, but my mind flashes back to that WWDC slide implying desktop performance with notebook power draw:

apple-custom-silicon-mac.jpg

Right. The billion dollar question here is whether Apple will scale down power draw to meet current performance levels, just do crazier things with the current power draw, or something in the middle. I'm hoping one of the latter two of those. There's no need for them to be modest here.

I hope they won’t use the same CPUs, because it’d leave a lot of unused thermal potential in the iMac.

Depends on the nature of the redesign. My guess is that they'll be able to still make something that puts the Intel iMacs all to shame while still reducing the thermal envelope substantially.

It would, although the smaller model seems to be more of a general use/ consumer focused machine, while its the 27" that seems to be bought for the more demanding tasks. Assuming the Apple Silicon chip actually could match the current 21.5" in performance anyway, would it matter hugely?

At the moment we're still thinking in Intel product stack terms, but Apple Silicon doesn't necessarily have to mirror that, the chips could be based around meeting the needs of the target market for each product segment:

Basic use: MacBook Air 12" and 14" - A14M

Competent allrounders: MacBook Pro 13"/ iMac 24"/ Mac Mini - A14MX

Powerful machines: MacBook Pro 16"/ iMac 30" - A14M Pro

Professional machines: Mac Pro/ iMac Pro(?) - A14M extreme

It's interesting that you have a 12", 13", and 14" laptop there. I'm thinking that's a lot of low-end laptop. I'd think it'd make sense for the Air and 13" Pro to consolidate into one machine after making the jump (especially if a replacement Air can also do everything a 13" Pro can in the smaller thermal envelope [which is totally possible with Apple Silicon]), but if we're talking about there being an Air at 13" and a "Pro" at 14", that could make sense too.

Has Apple stated anything about dropping AMD GPUs? They might keep them in the higher end models, while using integrated ones (Apple designed) in the lower end / lower power consumption models.

Yup. Apple is switching to their own GPUs and they will be integrated (albeit several times more efficient and faster than anything Intel has dreamt of releasing). But they're poised to beat out AMD's best stuff too. Apple's GPUs look like something to look forward to.

Achieving better CPU/GPU processing with similar consumption as todays desktops is a good goal. But be forewarned more powerful SoC's run hot also.

Right, but you're not going to get an Apple SoC that matches or even exceeds the power of an Intel-based 27" iMac that needs the same power draw, necessarily. Apple Silicon (ARM) SoCs are still much more power-efficient than Intel's chips, even on the higher-end.
 

kazmac

macrumors G4
Mar 24, 2010
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Any place but here or there....
Thank you! Yeah, if you're not needing anything x86-specific, it makes all the sense in the world to wait. I'm probably going with an Intel Four Port 2020 13" MacBook Pro because x86 virtualization (and eventual Boot Camp use) is important to me. That and I remember fondly (and not-so-fondly) getting the first 20" Intel iMac. I don't mind making this jump later on. I'm actually very excited for everyone around me to make the jump first! It will be cool to get a preview of what's in store down the road!

I’ve also determined if the 2013 27” goes kaput before AS Macs are released, I will also purchase an intel MBP 13” as a stopgap. I am glad we have options. Frankly, I have no idea what to expect but that is fine.
 

Harvey Zoltan

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May 14, 2018
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Brisbane
If as Tim Cook said the Apple Silicon transition will happen in the next two years surely Apple must have been working on these new Macs for at least two or three years now. I believe this latest iMac refresh is the end of the intel Macs. Would be great to see a 24 Apple Silicon iMac by the end of this year.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
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6,990
Right. The billion dollar question here is whether Apple will scale down power draw to meet current performance levels, just do crazier things with the current power draw, or something in the middle. I'm hoping one of the latter two of those. There's no need for them to be modest here.
Yup, I'm still largely of the mind we won't see Apple Silicon CPUs of over ~45W TDP in consumer machines. Based on the A12Z (7W) vs the i5-8257U (15W) or even the i5-1038NG7 (28W) it becomes quite clear Apple Silicon can comfortably match Intel performance figures at half or less the TDP.

Now, even if this doesn't completely scale to Intel's top end offerings (90W, though not strictly sticking to that) I don't see it as too far fetched that Apple Silicon could match it in performance with the sort of 45W budget the 16" Pro supports. So you can get 27" iMac Pro power in much smaller, quieter, cooler machines (plus hopefully better sustained performance and temps!).

This might also be strained when Apple are also putting really stonking graphics onto the chip, so the overall package might be say 60W (40W CPU and 20W GPU - maybe dynamically adjusted like the Intel-AMD G series chips?). So basically where Intel chips scale from 7W Y series to 90W+ desktop K series parts, Apple achieves the same range of power in a compressed scale from 7W to about 60W (as per the graph on the slide). Above that would be a Mac Pro type part but I wouldn't even like to guess what form that will take.

Of course I could be completely wrong here, but this is my current base scenario!

It's interesting that you have a 12", 13", and 14" laptop there. I'm thinking that's a lot of low-end laptop. I'd think it'd make sense for the Air and 13" Pro to consolidate into one machine after making the jump (especially if a replacement Air can also do everything a 13" Pro can in the smaller thermal envelope [which is totally possible with Apple Silicon]), but if we're talking about there being an Air at 13" and a "Pro" at 14", that could make sense too.
Oh yeah, that was just exemplary, I'm not sure what they will do as such, it sounds like we will start off with direct equivalents of each Intel machine to begin with, but there's swirling rumours for a few different form factors! I quite like the idea of the Air line being a revived 12" MacBook (with slightly larger 12.5" display or so via reduced bezels) and a 14.1" model, then the 14.1" and 16" MacBook Pros, but it sounds like the 13" Pro is sticking around for a while yet.
 
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the8thark

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Apr 18, 2011
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For me, on a desktop power consumption does not really matter.
For many others (myself included) it matters a whole lot. I specifically like the fact the iMac I use has a relatively low power consumption for the output it can do.
I am very glad apple values lowering power consumption on desktops as well.
 

Waragainstsleep

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2003
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- The 27" iMac got a top-to-bottom refresh of everything except its external design

Nothing surprising here really. We knew it was coming from leaked benchmarks but could have predicted what would be in it in terms of 10th gen, T2 etc. Maybe not the exact GPU options but certainly ballpark.

- The iMac Pro got a change in its lone stock option; the 8-core Xeon is replaced with a 10-core Xeon on the low-end. No other changes here. Not even that nano-texture display option.

I don't count this as a proper change. They just removed a low end option.


- The 21.5" iMac, at least in its current Intel-based form, is REALLY NOT long for this world. If the iMac side of the Apple Silicon Mac rumors are true, and the 21.5" Intel iMac will become the 24" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given the 16" MacBook Pro's bezel-shrinking treatment) while the 27" Intel iMac eventually will become the 30" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given said bezel-shrinking treatment), THEN the 24" Apple Silicon iMac is, indeed, going first as far as iMacs are concerned.[/QUOTE

I agree.

- The only reason not to update the 21.5" iMac in tandem with the 27" iMac (as was done in 2019) is because the 30" Apple Silicon iMac needs more time in the oven (specifically an Apple Silicon SoC that can run rings around that 10-core 10th Gen Core i9 doesn't yet exist and will need more time to actually develop and engineer) and the 21.5" iMac's successor (the rumored 24" Apple Silicon iMac) is ready to launch soon.

Not so sure about this. I suspect the 27" refresh was in the pipeline so they released it. Its possible they are still testing and tweaking a bit but if you have a machine ready to go, no sense in trashing it. It could be they decided the transition was ready to pull the trigger in time for WWDC and this 27" was already in production.

- The iMac Pro is likely not making the jump. It not getting the nano-texture option in today's updates is telling. It may, however, linger after the 27" Intel non-Pro iMac gets replaced by a 30" Apple Silicon iMac for those that need an x86 iMac.

The iMac Pro was a stopgap measure. Most iMac Pro customers are really Mac Pro customers. Even if there was going to be another one, it would surely be a 30" or bigger no?
I don't know why you think Apple will allow Intel to linger. Software they help people keep, hardware they don't. Expect each model to be replaced by the AS version. I don't expect to see any Intel models linger after being transitioned.

It's strange that both machines would get such recent updates and also be first in line for the transition, though Apple did do similar releases with the PowerPC to Intel transition.

I believe Intel were late delivering when Apple moved to Core Duo (I think they meant to start with Core 2s).

- The 2020 MacBook Air has thermal issues, It will behoove Apple to move this Mac over to Apple Silicon as soon as it can.

Its my opinion that the Air stands to gain the most and should be first. Now I think of it, maybe Apple will merge the Air with the 13" Pro and just have the one laptop. Maybe they'll bring in a 14" Pro later. Who knows?

- The 16" MacBook Pro (at least at its high end), along with the 27" iMac and Mac Pro will need more time to develop Apple Silicon SoCs that surpass their current performance. By "more time", I'm talking about a year, if not a year and a half at most.

I hope they take a little time with the 16" replacement as I have a very recent Intel one. I do wonder if they need to stagger these things due to capacity and demand at TSMC. Apple is in the process of upping their orders substantially but I haven't read anything about them building new plants. They still have orders from AMD and others given Intel are so far behind. I suspect the bigger Apple SoCs are about ready but not for the Mac Pro which is a very different beast indeed. The 16" can be similar but higher end than the SoC in the Air. The Mac Pro needs substantially more cores and memory to play with. Very different beast. Thats why that one needs two years.
 

anshuvorty

macrumors 68040
Sep 1, 2010
3,368
4,838
California, USA
Today's refresh of the Intel-based 27" iMac was very interesting. And in classic Apple fashion, the most interesting elements were in what WASN'T announced rather than what was. First off, some facts:

- The 27" iMac got a top-to-bottom refresh of everything except its external design (pretty sure that due to thermal restrictions on Intel's chips, this was never going to be in the cards until we landed at the other end of the Apple Silicon transition). This includes the love-it-or-hate-it T2 chip along with either soldered on or damn-near-impossible-to-upgrade SSD-only storage. We got 10th Gen Intel (up to 10 Core!) and we got AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series as well as a 1080p camera with True-Tone displays and that nano-texture option!

- The 21.5" iMac got none of that. Best you can say here is that hard-drive-only options are now gone and that all models come standard with an SSD with the option of moving to either a bigger Fusion Drive or an SSD. The hardware here is otherwise unchanged. It is still a 2019 21.5" iMac rocking 8th Generation Intel. No T2 chip either, for whatever that's worth.

- The iMac Pro got a change in its lone stock option; the 8-core Xeon is replaced with a 10-core Xeon on the low-end. No other changes here. Not even that nano-texture display option.

Given all of this, here's my theory on what that spells for the Apple Silicon transition:

- The 21.5" iMac, at least in its current Intel-based form, is REALLY NOT long for this world. If the iMac side of the Apple Silicon Mac rumors are true, and the 21.5" Intel iMac will become the 24" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given the 16" MacBook Pro's bezel-shrinking treatment) while the 27" Intel iMac eventually will become the 30" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given said bezel-shrinking treatment), THEN the 24" Apple Silicon iMac is, indeed, going first as far as iMacs are concerned.

- The only reason not to update the 21.5" iMac in tandem with the 27" iMac (as was done in 2019) is because the 30" Apple Silicon iMac needs more time in the oven (specifically an Apple Silicon SoC that can run rings around that 10-core 10th Gen Core i9 doesn't yet exist and will need more time to actually develop and engineer) and the 21.5" iMac's successor (the rumored 24" Apple Silicon iMac) is ready to launch soon.

- The iMac Pro is likely not making the jump. It not getting the nano-texture option in today's updates is telling. It may, however, linger after the 27" Intel non-Pro iMac gets replaced by a 30" Apple Silicon iMac for those that need an x86 iMac. Or it may get discontinued and the 27" iMac that came out today may linger. Or both may disappear when the Apple Silicon replacement to today's 27" iMac comes out. I'd say that last option is most likely (as the incumbent tower Mac has usually served well as the legacy option for desktops; the only reason to keep any 27" Intel iMac around for that purpose would be because the Mac Pro is otherwise prohibitively expensive and the need to stay on x86 isn't just limited to the high end).

- Apple already has the technology to replace pretty much every 8th Gen Intel processor based Mac still being sold (so, the 2020 two-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the 21.5" iMac) with a markedly faster Apple Silicon SoC based model today. The A12Z in the current iPad Pro and the Apple Silicon DTK are proof of that. Selling users on the performance gains of Apple Silicon over 8th Gen Intel will be easy. They'll do what they did in the PowerPC-to-Intel days and compare gains specifically from predecessor models on the old architecture ("4x faster performance!") and that'll be enough to persuade people to buy the newer Macs without tossing THAT much shade on the Intel models that aren't ready to make the jump yet (just as no one really cared about the Core Duo iMac from the standpoint of it being a Power Mac G5 Quad replacement prior to the first Mac Pro).

- Apple also already has the technology to replace the 10th Gen processors in the MacBook Air and the 2020 four-port 13" MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon SoCs that run rings around them. Again, the A12Z is proof of this. It's strange that both machines would get such recent updates and also be first in line for the transition, though Apple did do similar releases with the PowerPC to Intel transition. Then again, as I've stated before, all lower-end Macs (21.5" iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, all 13" MacBook Pros) are fair game to go first as the bar is relatively low and Apple can beat it handily RIGHT NOW. (Whereas their ability to go beyond that is speculative at the current moment.)

- The 2020 MacBook Air has thermal issues stemming from the fact that Intel's 10th Gen Y-series CPUs are still too underpowered for Apple's thermal envelope (though why they didn't put in a heat pipe is still dumbfounding to me). This has been a problem for the MacBook Air since its inception (perhaps excluding the 2010-2017 body style). It will behoove Apple to move this Mac over to Apple Silicon as soon as it can.

- Apple not updating the two-port 13" MacBook Pro with 10th Gen is about as analogous to the minimal update that the 21.5" iMac received today as one can get. Clearly, both Macs (along with the 4-port version of the 13") is, as rumors are predicting, likely to move to Apple Silicon first. The Mac mini's "update" earlier this year is similar as well. All three are 8th-gen Intel based. They're all important Macs in Apple's line-up too (being the first choice for budget-conscious buyers and low-end users). It's much easier to overtake Intel, when you're overtaking Intel's technology from two years ago.

- The 16" MacBook Pro (at least at its high end), along with the 27" iMac and Mac Pro will need more time to develop Apple Silicon SoCs that surpass their current performance. By "more time", I'm talking about a year, if not a year and a half at most. But, given how Apple handles sensitive transitions, they'll likely keep the Intel version around for those that NEED x86 for a while thereafter. (Apple will otherwise consider the transition to be complete when every one of their Macs has an Apple Silicon option rather than the moment when the Intel options disappear from sale.) Apple did this with the iBook G4 and the Power Mac G5 after the Intel switch was completed with the launch of the first Mac Pro. Apple did this again in 2013 when transitioning to the Retina MacBook Pro design from the Unibody designs and then again in 2016 when transitioning to the TouchBar design (by keeping the 2015 MacBook Pro around for an additional two years). We likely will see an extended transition time for the Mac Pro as well (with the Intel version lingering around after the Apple Silicon version is released for those that have a myriad of plugins that are taking their sweet time to become ARM64-native).

- Apple separating releases within the same product line (i.e. 16" MacBook Pro and 2020 13" MacBook Pro, 2020 27" iMac and 2019 21.5" iMac) is probably the most telling. They clearly need to do this because, during this transition, not every MacBook Pro will make the jump at the same time. Same goes for the iMac. This was true of Apple's laptops during the PowerPC to Intel transition too (15" was first, 17" followed two months later, followed by the merger of the 12" PowerBook with the iBook to make the first MacBooks), however, it wasn't true of Apple's iMacs. I do believe that it will be different this time around. I feel this way because, unlike in the late PowerPC and early Intel eras, the later Intel era has huge performance disparities between lower-end models (21.5" iMac and 13" MacBook Pros, for example) and higher-end models (27" iMacs and 16" MacBook Pros, for example). The 17" and 20" iMacs of 2005 and 2006 were not as far apart in performance. Nor were the 12" and 15" PowerBook G4s of that era.

- Apple has to account for all of this in marketing the newer Apple Silicon models; every Apple Silicon Mac model has to at least be substantially faster than its fastest possible Intel predecessor in order for that Mac model to be ready to make the jump.

tl;dr: Lower-end Macs are making the jump to Apple Silicon first; the iMac Pros days are numbered, and the clues are all in today's announcements!

It will be interesting to see how close Apple sticks to its past tendencies for this upcoming transition, this post can serve as a check to see how Apple is handling it come Fall 2020 or later.
 
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DotCom2

macrumors 603
Feb 22, 2009
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Today's refresh of the Intel-based 27" iMac was very interesting. And in classic Apple fashion, the most interesting elements were in what WASN'T announced rather than what was. First off, some facts:

- The 27" iMac got a top-to-bottom refresh of everything except its external design (pretty sure that due to thermal restrictions on Intel's chips, this was never going to be in the cards until we landed at the other end of the Apple Silicon transition). This includes the love-it-or-hate-it T2 chip along with either soldered on or damn-near-impossible-to-upgrade SSD-only storage. We got 10th Gen Intel (up to 10 Core!) and we got AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series as well as a 1080p camera with True-Tone displays and that nano-texture option!

- The 21.5" iMac got none of that. Best you can say here is that hard-drive-only options are now gone and that all models come standard with an SSD with the option of moving to either a bigger Fusion Drive or an SSD. The hardware here is otherwise unchanged. It is still a 2019 21.5" iMac rocking 8th Generation Intel. No T2 chip either, for whatever that's worth.

- The iMac Pro got a change in its lone stock option; the 8-core Xeon is replaced with a 10-core Xeon on the low-end. No other changes here. Not even that nano-texture display option.

Given all of this, here's my theory on what that spells for the Apple Silicon transition:

- The 21.5" iMac, at least in its current Intel-based form, is REALLY NOT long for this world. If the iMac side of the Apple Silicon Mac rumors are true, and the 21.5" Intel iMac will become the 24" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given the 16" MacBook Pro's bezel-shrinking treatment) while the 27" Intel iMac eventually will become the 30" Apple Silicon iMac (having been given said bezel-shrinking treatment), THEN the 24" Apple Silicon iMac is, indeed, going first as far as iMacs are concerned.

- The only reason not to update the 21.5" iMac in tandem with the 27" iMac (as was done in 2019) is because the 30" Apple Silicon iMac needs more time in the oven (specifically an Apple Silicon SoC that can run rings around that 10-core 10th Gen Core i9 doesn't yet exist and will need more time to actually develop and engineer) and the 21.5" iMac's successor (the rumored 24" Apple Silicon iMac) is ready to launch soon.

- The iMac Pro is likely not making the jump. It not getting the nano-texture option in today's updates is telling. It may, however, linger after the 27" Intel non-Pro iMac gets replaced by a 30" Apple Silicon iMac for those that need an x86 iMac. Or it may get discontinued and the 27" iMac that came out today may linger. Or both may disappear when the Apple Silicon replacement to today's 27" iMac comes out. I'd say that last option is most likely (as the incumbent tower Mac has usually served well as the legacy option for desktops; the only reason to keep any 27" Intel iMac around for that purpose would be because the Mac Pro is otherwise prohibitively expensive and the need to stay on x86 isn't just limited to the high end).

- Apple already has the technology to replace pretty much every 8th Gen Intel processor based Mac still being sold (so, the 2020 two-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the 21.5" iMac) with a markedly faster Apple Silicon SoC based model today. The A12Z in the current iPad Pro and the Apple Silicon DTK are proof of that. Selling users on the performance gains of Apple Silicon over 8th Gen Intel will be easy. They'll do what they did in the PowerPC-to-Intel days and compare gains specifically from predecessor models on the old architecture ("4x faster performance!") and that'll be enough to persuade people to buy the newer Macs without tossing THAT much shade on the Intel models that aren't ready to make the jump yet (just as no one really cared about the Core Duo iMac from the standpoint of it being a Power Mac G5 Quad replacement prior to the first Mac Pro).

- Apple also already has the technology to replace the 10th Gen processors in the MacBook Air and the 2020 four-port 13" MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon SoCs that run rings around them. Again, the A12Z is proof of this. It's strange that both machines would get such recent updates and also be first in line for the transition, though Apple did do similar releases with the PowerPC to Intel transition. Then again, as I've stated before, all lower-end Macs (21.5" iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, all 13" MacBook Pros) are fair game to go first as the bar is relatively low and Apple can beat it handily RIGHT NOW. (Whereas their ability to go beyond that is speculative at the current moment.)

- The 2020 MacBook Air has thermal issues stemming from the fact that Intel's 10th Gen Y-series CPUs are still too underpowered for Apple's thermal envelope (though why they didn't put in a heat pipe is still dumbfounding to me). This has been a problem for the MacBook Air since its inception (perhaps excluding the 2010-2017 body style). It will behoove Apple to move this Mac over to Apple Silicon as soon as it can.

- Apple not updating the two-port 13" MacBook Pro with 10th Gen is about as analogous to the minimal update that the 21.5" iMac received today as one can get. Clearly, both Macs (along with the 4-port version of the 13") is, as rumors are predicting, likely to move to Apple Silicon first. The Mac mini's "update" earlier this year is similar as well. All three are 8th-gen Intel based. They're all important Macs in Apple's line-up too (being the first choice for budget-conscious buyers and low-end users). It's much easier to overtake Intel, when you're overtaking Intel's technology from two years ago.

- The 16" MacBook Pro (at least at its high end), along with the 27" iMac and Mac Pro will need more time to develop Apple Silicon SoCs that surpass their current performance. By "more time", I'm talking about a year, if not a year and a half at most. But, given how Apple handles sensitive transitions, they'll likely keep the Intel version around for those that NEED x86 for a while thereafter. (Apple will otherwise consider the transition to be complete when every one of their Macs has an Apple Silicon option rather than the moment when the Intel options disappear from sale.) Apple did this with the iBook G4 and the Power Mac G5 after the Intel switch was completed with the launch of the first Mac Pro. Apple did this again in 2013 when transitioning to the Retina MacBook Pro design from the Unibody designs and then again in 2016 when transitioning to the TouchBar design (by keeping the 2015 MacBook Pro around for an additional two years). We likely will see an extended transition time for the Mac Pro as well (with the Intel version lingering around after the Apple Silicon version is released for those that have a myriad of plugins that are taking their sweet time to become ARM64-native).

- Apple separating releases within the same product line (i.e. 16" MacBook Pro and 2020 13" MacBook Pro, 2020 27" iMac and 2019 21.5" iMac) is probably the most telling. They clearly need to do this because, during this transition, not every MacBook Pro will make the jump at the same time. Same goes for the iMac. This was true of Apple's laptops during the PowerPC to Intel transition too (15" was first, 17" followed two months later, followed by the merger of the 12" PowerBook with the iBook to make the first MacBooks), however, it wasn't true of Apple's iMacs. I do believe that it will be different this time around. I feel this way because, unlike in the late PowerPC and early Intel eras, the later Intel era has huge performance disparities between lower-end models (21.5" iMac and 13" MacBook Pros, for example) and higher-end models (27" iMacs and 16" MacBook Pros, for example). The 17" and 20" iMacs of 2005 and 2006 were not as far apart in performance. Nor were the 12" and 15" PowerBook G4s of that era.

- Apple has to account for all of this in marketing the newer Apple Silicon models; every Apple Silicon Mac model has to at least be substantially faster than its fastest possible Intel predecessor in order for that Mac model to be ready to make the jump.

tl;dr: Lower-end Macs are making the jump to Apple Silicon first; the iMac Pros days are numbered, and the clues are all in today's announcements!
This is one of the best written posts I’ve seen on these forums in looong time ! THANK YOU!
 
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