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marurun
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Apple has finally done it

by marurun Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:20 am

Not only is Apple now running their own CPU (they have to pay for an ARM license, but they are much more independent in what they can do with it compared to buying someone else's chip wholesale) but they've also finally proven that ARM can indeed fully compete with x86 in the desktop segment. Intel and AMD are now both on notice in all but the the power-hungry top segment of the market. And who knows what Apple has on tap for the next 2 years.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/11 ... ompetitor/

tl:dr Apple's new M1 appears to be the single-threaded performance IPC king. Nothing on the market can touch it for single-threaded performance. Multi-threaded it tops every mobile CPU and many (most?) desktop CPUs and is hamstrung only by the fact that 4 of its 8 cores are lower-power "little" cores. I suspect workstation class machines will have more "big" cores and fewer "little" cores to take advantage of the massive power of the "big" cores' IPC advantage. I honestly did not expect an ARM CPU to take the IPC crown. That's truly frightening.
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dsheinem
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by dsheinem Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:05 am

I am a little bit out of my element here, but why is it "frightening"?
Last edited by dsheinem on Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by Ziggy587 Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:10 am

I think it's awesome, but I don't see this being huge competition to Intel and AMD. People that were going to buy a Mac were going to buy a Mac anyway, despite what CPU it has. And it's not like you'll be able to purchase an M1 CPU (right?) and build your own computer around it. Again, I think it's awesome that Apple is doing this. But since they are a closed platform, I don't see how this affects the competition more than how it already was.
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marurun
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by marurun Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:42 am

dsheinem wrote:I am a little bit out of my element here, but why is it "frightening"?


The magnitude of this technical achievement is quite intimidating. It's a super-wide design, with an incredibly deep out-of-order queue, large instruction caches... This is taking the ARM license and finely tailoring it into a low-power beast. And this is their low-end chip. In the next two years they'll be releasing bigger and badder variants. It's not frightening in the "I'm scared for my life" sense, but more in the superlative description sense.
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isiolia
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by isiolia Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:12 pm

Ziggy587 wrote:I think it's awesome, but I don't see this being huge competition to Intel and AMD. People that were going to buy a Mac were going to buy a Mac anyway, despite what CPU it has. And it's not like you'll be able to purchase an M1 CPU (right?) and build your own computer around it. Again, I think it's awesome that Apple is doing this. But since they are a closed platform, I don't see how this affects the competition more than how it already was.


The excitement is more the proof-of-concept for the CPU. Not all aspects of the new Macs are particularly great. They have zero upgradeability, and limited compatibility - eGPUs aren't working yet, emulation is apparently more limited than previous ones (look forward to Photoshop in 2021!) and Apple making the whole thing means things can (and likely will) be locked even more into their ecosystem. Probably a good reason that their Pro level machines will be last in this process, and given that it's Apple, any backwards compatibility will likely end up dropped an OS revision or two after that.

On the other hand, every other major OS already has an ARM version as well. Granted, losing legacy applications is a much bigger thing on Windows...since it actually has them, unlike macOS. However, for modern Office/etc, the ARM versions are already there (lower end Surface products have been on that for years). MS or others could end up putting together similarly great CPUs. The uptake just may not be as universal, as given a choice (that Mac users won't have), Windows folks seem to opt for keeping decades worth of software working. Given a good emulation layer though, could get interesting.
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:53 pm

marurun wrote:[It's not frightening in the "I'm scared for my life" sense, but more in the superlative description sense.


I know almost nothing on this subject, and everything you wrote is very interesting. Nonetheless...I am going to shelter in place just to be safe. :lol:
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marurun
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by marurun Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:43 pm

Isiolia, I was speaking mostly to the CPU itself, not necessarily the machine around it (though it's hard to wall those off for the purpose of benchmarks). Actually, the Rosetta 2 emulation layer seems to be quite good. The machine tests well running an x86 Chrome build in the Ars article, for example. Details of Rosetta 2 are still tough to come by, however. It's not known if it's looking for build indications from Apple build tools for guidance or just doing raw instruction translation/assignment. I have read that it's not a translation run-time, but rather it builds a translated app and then runs that translated version of the app subsequently rather than doing it at run-time every time.

Still, as a piece of CPU engineering, this thing is boss.
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by isiolia Tue Nov 17, 2020 3:46 pm

Adobe did now drop a beta version of ARM Photoshop (for Windows as well), so it'll be coming along. Rosetta was pretty solid the first time around too, but to me the bigger issue is that it just got left behind, as is Apple's way.

It'd be nicer to see more native application performance instead of generic benchmarks, though I'm sure we'll get 'em. It's not like Apple has had poor performance on mobile devices, and they're more or less just able to shift Macs to that.
I'd also be curious about how things perform in a more expandable system. Much as it can be about the CPU, building as much on-die as they have has performance benefits as well. RAM performance alone could be really helping their results, but might not scale well for cost, for instance.

I'm not trying to just downplay it. I was almost going to buy a new Mini the day of the event, but decided to hold off due to the cost of the base model and lack of expansion. Especially remembering how not-awesome long-term support was for the earlier Intel Macs.
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by marurun Tue Nov 17, 2020 4:23 pm

That 16 GB limit on the M1 is due to the memory architecture they've chosen to use on that chip. It's clear the M1 is a low-end release. It's a very FAST low-end release, but a low-end release nonetheless. You're correct that the real excitement will be seeing how they pair these cores with more robust support components.
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Re: Apple has finally done it

by racketboy Wed Nov 18, 2020 12:32 pm

I've been holding off on getting a new MacBook Air and very excited about this release -- especially after the initial pro reviews came in.

Excited to see what the desktops looks like in the next round. Eventually, I'll be looking to replace my iMac with a new iMac or something like a Mini Pro (although, hopefully, they can offer a replaceable hard drive on the desktops....)
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