Tuesday, July 7th 2020

Apple to Develop the Metal Family of GPUs, Dump AMD Radeon

In the next big step toward complete silicon independence, Apple is planning to dump AMD as a supplier of discrete GPUs in the near future, closely following its decision to dump Intel and the x86 machine architecture in favor of its own SoCs based on the Arm machine architecture. The company is developing its own line of discrete GPUs under the "Metal GPU Family," a name borrowed from its own Metal graphics API.

This explosive bit of information comes from a WWDC 2020 presentation slide posted by Longhorn (@never_released) on Twitter. The slide suggests that along with the processor, Apple is making a clean break with its graphics hardware. The SoCs powering client-segment Macs, such as future iMacs or MacBooks, could feature iGPUs based on this graphics architecture, while larger platforms such as MacBook Pros, Mac Pros, and iMac Pros of the future could feature Apple's own discrete GPUs.
Source: Longhorn (Twitter)
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67 Comments on Apple to Develop the Metal Family of GPUs, Dump AMD Radeon

#26
R0H1T
watzupken
This should not come as a surprise. If they are using in house SOC, then there is no room for the AMD graphics.
Well besides the fact that Nvidia & AMD are the leaders in (d)GPU for several years now! Unless Apple thinks they can match them in terms of absolute perf & perf/W this move doesn't make sense in the short to medium term. Yes they're moving everything in house though it's also worth remembering none come close to these two in the GPU space, yes I know Intel is trying right now, especially at the higher end of the market.
PowerPC
Apple is selling a "feeling".
That's a bit disingenuous, Apple products are indeed top notch & also way overpriced for the "specs" they offer!
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#27
PowerPC
R0H1T
That's a bit disingenuous, Apple products are indeed top notch & also way overpriced for the "specs" they offer!
A lot of people don't need that performance like they don't need the fastest car. How is it disingenuous? Most people also don't buy a laptop for gaming, usually it's for work only. I honestly don't know anything that is better for work than being in the Mac ecosystem other than setting up Linux (and working your butt off for it). Some people just pay for that feeling and that productivity and to not have to be a technical genius. Yes, if you want the pure Mac experience, you'll pay crazy money, especially for their own Retina external monitors... But if you're not doing it as a hobby, the amount of time I spent customizing Linux to have something equivalent to the Mac Ecosystem is 10x more worth than what Apple wants in terms of money. I'd gladly pay it if I didn't enjoy the Linux pains so much like a masochist. And Windows is just far behind Linux or MacOS in terms of work for me. No way I'm ever going back to that. Goes for a lot of people who actually compare all OSes.
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#28
neatfeatguy
AnarchoPrimitiv
I've always wondered that as well, but then again, I won't purchase ANYTHING, even a $40 item without doing as much research as necessary to be absolutely confident I've chosen the best possible product for my money... So you can imagine how much research I do and did for my new build this past November. That's why it baffles me how anyone could walk into a best buy, for example, and spend $1000+ on a computer only relying on what the sales person says.

Unfortunately however, it's seems that the vast majority of people do purchase their computer(s) in this manner, and the Apple customer falls into this category or the category of customer whose only concern is that they want to use iOS or whatever the newest OS for apple is called. At least, that's my theory on what's occurring... I mean, if someone just takes ten minutes and, for example, compares a $2000 MacBook to a $2000 windows laptop, they'll obviously see you get better hardware performance for the same price with the windows laptop... So they either don't take that ten minutes, or don't care to....
If you plan on buying a Mac of some sort - even though I do hate them, I'd suggest actually hitting up an Apple store over other places that are licensed to sell Apple laptops such as Best Buy.

Don't get me wrong, I have seen a few knowledgeable Geek Squad guys before, but I've seen a lot that are so ignorant when it comes to hardware it makes you wonder how they got their job. I was shopping around for a laptop a couple years back for the daughter - something she could use to do some light gaming, used for school work, skype with grandparents and her aunt/uncle. I wasn't looking to spend a lot, but something that would work for her for 4 or 5 years until she got to high school. As I was browsing laptops at Best Buy I overhear a Geek Squad guy talking with an older lady (probably around 60) about the laptops just a few feet away. The lady asked what's the difference between having 2 cores and 4 cores. She saw the 2 core was clocked higher (2.3 or something like that) and the 4 core was only 2.0. The Geek Squad guy literally told her that 2 cores at 2.3 means she'd have a total speed of 4.6Ghz. Whereas the 4 core at 2.0 would mean she'd have 8GHz which is why the 4 core was better. I started laughing loudly and they both looked at me. I looked straight at the Geek Squad guy as I told the lady this guy was a moron and she should go elsewhere to find a laptop, I suggested Microcenter if she was in need of getting proper answers to her questions.

The wife likes Macs - I guess its the only thing she's used since she started her graphic design classes in college. She likes the Apple store if she needs to find a new laptop (thankfully that's only every 6-8 years because these things are outrageously overpriced and she takes care of her laptops) so she can ask questions from people that strictly deal with Apple products. She also likes the fact that the company she works for will give her thousands of dollars of software to install on her laptop so she can use it to work from home if needed and they don't care if she uses it to freelance.
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#29
ARF
PowerPC
A lot of people don't need that performance like they don't need the fastest car.
This is an bananas vs strawberries comparison. People can't look for a fastest car because there are speed limits everywhere.

While the most negative thing of the computer hardware, everywhere and in general, is that it's slow and annoying, buggy and disappointing.
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#30
$ReaPeR$
Well, it's official, they went with the nuclear option. I'm really curious to see how this will go.
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#31
zlobby
Good luck with the patents!
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#32
kapone32
It is obvious that Apple has something in hand or some Company in mind to takeover.
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#33
PowerPC
ARF
This is an bananas vs strawberries comparison. People can't look for a fastest car because there are speed limits everywhere.

While the most negative thing of the computer hardware, everywhere and in general, is that it's slow and annoying, buggy and disappointing.
As if you can notice a difference in most daily applications between an i5 and a Threadripper... There are speed limits with tech, it's the limit where you no longer even notice the extra power, potential speed and features you're getting. We have such amazingly powerful processors now, that most people don't actually need or know how to use them fully. It's their own speed limit, if you will.
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#34
valrond
PowerPC
A lot of people don't need that performance like they don't need the fastest car. How is it disingenuous? Most people also don't buy a laptop for gaming, usually it's for work only. I honestly don't know anything that is better for work than being in the Mac ecosystem other than setting up Linux (and working your butt off for it). Some people just pay for that feeling and that productivity and to not have to be a technical genius. Yes, if you want the pure Mac experience, you'll pay crazy money, especially for their own Retina external monitors... But if you're not doing it as a hobby, the amount of time I spent customizing Linux to have something equivalent to the Mac Ecosystem is 10x more worth than what Apple wants in terms of money. I'd gladly pay it if I didn't enjoy the Linux pains so much like a masochist. And Windows is just far behind Linux or MacOS in terms of work for me. No way I'm ever going back to that. Goes for a lot of people who actually compare all OSes.
Granted, some people don't need that performance once you reach a minimum, but then tell me, why would anyone that already owns a Mac get a new one ? Even if you don't NEED that extra performance, when you buy a new computer, you buy it with MORE power than before, not less. And if you use it for ANYTHING that is intensive, that is, other than media consumption, something you can do in a tablet, then it is a huge step back.
PowerPC
As if you can notice a difference in most daily applications between an i5 and a Threadripper... There are speed limits with tech, it's the limit where you no longer even notice the extra power, potential speed and features you're getting. We have such amazingly powerful processors now, that most people don't actually need or know how to use them fully. It's their own speed limit, if you will.
I DO note the difference between my i5 2500k and my 3800x 8c/16t for everyday use. System loads faster, it is more responsible, I can have a lot more things running at the same time, and that's not even doing something heavy.
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#35
$ReaPeR$
valrond
Granted, some people don't need that performance once you reach a minimum, but then tell me, why would anyone that already owns a Mac get a new one ? Even if you don't NEED that extra performance, when you buy a new computer, you buy it with MORE power than before, not less. And if you use it for ANYTHING that is intensive, that is, other than media consumption, something you can do in a tablet, then it is a huge step back.
Because you don't buy a "computer" you buy a "Mac".
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#36
R0H1T
PowerPC
Goes for a lot of people who actually compare all OSes.
So you're saying people who actually compare all OSes can compensate for lack of their favorite applications on one platform, presumably by writing their own on the OS of their choice? You're implying as if people choose OS regardless of applications ~ which some of them admittedly rely on for their livelihood. Give me an equivalent of say Mirllis' Splash player on Linux or how about Mirllis Action?
PowerPC
It's their own speed limit, if you will.
It isn't as simple as that. If it were everyone would've been a coder & Windows should've been dead back in the 90's :rolleyes:

The fact is the vast majority of people choose their OS largely based on the applications they use, not based on what OS performs the "best" & this applies especially to Mac owners.
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#37
PowerPC
R0H1T
So you're saying people who actually compare all OSes can compensate for lack of their favorite applications on one platform, presumably by writing their own on the OS of their choice? You're implying as if people choose OS regardless of applications ~ which some of them admittedly rely on for their livelihood. Give me an equivalent of say Mirllis' Splash player on Linux or how about Mirllis Action?
VLC? OBS Studio? There are always great alternatives to software that is just on one OS. The only thing I miss on Linux is the full MS Office, but there is already a good and free online version. And you can use a VM for Windows, if you really need to.
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#38
R0H1T
I suppose you haven't used Splash player or Action then, how about you try it & tell me a Linux or Mac equivalent & no VLC or OBS don't even come close to what they offer!
I choose a free & paid application just to show the fallacy in your argument.
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#39
PowerPC
valrond
I DO note the difference between my i5 2500k and my 3800x 8c/16t for everyday use. System loads faster, it is more responsible, I can have a lot more things running at the same time, and that's not even doing something heavy.
You're missing the point. Apple doesn't actually have slow laptops. It's just more expensive, but there are a lot of other benefits that come with Macs vs. Windows PCs other than hardware. The only way to get around this, is to use Linux in my opinion but by far not everybody wants to deal with Linux.
R0H1T
I suppose you haven't used Splash player or Action then, how about you try it & tell me a Linux or Mac equivalent & no VLC or OBS don't even come close to what they offer!
I choose a free & paid application just to show the fallacy in your argument.
And I could list many apps that are only on Linux. How about the OS itself? I argue that no individual app is as important as choosing your OS. It's far more important actually. It follows you everywhere and has a huge impact on your overall productivity across everything you do on a computer.. I'm not arguing that you can be just as productive on all free apps as you can be on some paid ones, but that's a far smaller concern for me than the actual OS I use. I'm not going to switch the whole OS to have 1-2 apps that are maybe a bit better. Most of my favorite software works cross platform. But also a lot of important features for me are pretty much exclusively on Linux, so there's that.
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#40
SamuelL
Andyr
I'm struggling to get my head round the strategy here. Apple's core professional market is traditionally creative/media, where applications depend heavily on gpu acceleration.

I just can't see them delivering Vega Pro II performance from a scaled up SOC.
One on hand, maybe Apple will maintain support of x86 workstations like the Mac Pro or iMac Pro for longer than we expect. The Mac Pro is a very nicely designed and powerful system - just laughably overpriced in every configuration.

On the other hand, I know of some marketing and design shops that made the jump to Windows systems after the early 2010s. This was back when the “trash can” Mac Pro offered limited expansion / was mostly a downgrade from the 2008-2012 models and the 17” MacBook Pro was axed around 2011. Apple hasn’t been friendly to the pro market for years in favor of general consumers and those who see a Mac more as a fashion/prestige item. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the pro market has already eroded to a point where Apple is ready to throw in the towel on these users. I’m certain Final Cut, the Adobe products and other big names will be ported over in some form. But the ecosystem of smaller vendor’s pro products and those selling addons/plugins will likely go away.
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#41
Darmok N Jalad
With the new Mac Pro, Apple introduced the “Afterburner Accelerator“ card:
The card is built to accelerate ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs, namely the encoding and decoding of the codecs, which is a processing-heavy task in most cases. Apple claims the card is capable of handling up to six streams of 8K ProRes RAW video simultaneously at 30 frames per second, making it extremely useful for video editors working at the highest possible level.
On less demanding video specifications, it is able to work on up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes RAW video at 30 frames per second, or at 4K ProRes 422, up to 16 video streams.
In other words, with the new Mac Pro announcement last year, Apple was already well on its way to finding alternatives for highly parallel compute. The Mac has not really ever been a good gaming platform, so if Apple continues to employ their own specialized hardware and a also good API to leverage it, then the relationship with AMD was already in jeopardy when this card was announced. I had held out hope that AMD would leverage their history of partnering with OEMs on custom chips, as they have provided many such custom options for Apple. However, if this is true, then even AMD doesn’t get a chance to play. The death of x86 Macs won’t be immediate, but in 7-8 years, we might see all such hardware get the EOL boot and Macs will be ”fully Apple” hardware. I do suspect money will still change hands to AMD and NVIDIA in regards to patents, but that still means Apple’s future is in Apple’s hands.
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#42
windwhirl
tfdsaf
I still don't get why people buy overpriced mac's, when you can have much better laptops from various companies like Asus, Lenovo, ROG, etc...
The Mac experience. Apple has flaws, like any other company. But when buy an Apple product you can sort of expect that it will be a smoother experience than what the competition can provide.
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#43
dragontamer5788
Camm
I'm not surprised, but it is interesting to see that Apple is willing to pay the insane cost of royalties on graphics patents in order to do so AND it thinks it can outperform Nvidia, AMD & Intel in designing GPU's.
I don't think so. From a business perspective, it could be just a negotiating tactic.

Think of it like Valve/Steam vs Windows Store. Valve was "willing" to create SteamOS (Linux distro) to compete against Windows Store. When Microsoft dropped Windows Store requirements, SteamOS died. As such, it became clear (in hindsight) that SteamOS was purely a negotiating tool.

Apple previously could only switch between NVidia and AMD. Intel GPUs are around the corner, but providing a 4th option... even if it isn't necessarily going to be used... would definitely lower prices from Apple's perspective.
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#44
Flanker
Every Apple product I have ever used are from work, where I had to use them for product development. I hated almost all of them, made me want to through them at walls. XCode is shitty IDE imo, Having said that, there are people who love Apple products and do get things done using them, so this is totally subjective I suppose.
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#45
claes
Why is this a surprise to anyone? Apple has been using it’s own GPU on their ARM processors this whole time. Why wouldn’t they continue to do so?

Also, this post seems misleading. We don’t really have context for the slide, even from the tweet, and we know Apple is going to continue to build and support Intel Macs for some years ahead.

Couldn’t this mean the second column in the slide indicates that they’re going to continue to use other vendors with their Intel based Macs? How many years will it be until they can beat Navi in their flagship product?

Edit: Also worth noting that Apple has opened up development of system and kernel extensions (drivers) for the first time in this new release. I wonder what this means for add-in cards? Maybe nVidia can finally release some drivers :p
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#46
hurakura
$ReaPeR$
Because you don't buy a "computer" you buy a "Mac".
and it makes you all warm and fuzzy inside
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#47
theoneandonlymrk
Imsochobo
they don't aim to outperform them, their most sold mac is weak AF.
people don't really want performance, they want the mac experience if they can do that themself and deliver that better then that makes perfect sense.
A fair few People I know use them for browsing or nothing, like naught.
That's an expensive naught.
So we're finally going to see four discrete GPU, be interesting no doubt.
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#48
$ReaPeR$
hurakura
and it makes you all warm and fuzzy inside
Personally no, but for their customers that description is pretty accurate I think.
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#49
Kaotik
Just checked the actual video this slide is from. So PowerVR is finally making architecture suitable for desktop-performance after nearly 20 years.
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#50
joey2250
Kaotik
Has this slide been confirmed anywhere else to be real?
The fact it mentions NVIDIA just makes it sound possibly fake, since any support for NVIDIA GPUs was already dropped some time ago (last drivers even in beta-form are for macOS High Sierra released Oct 2019)
Thats not true. I have a Late-2013 MBP with an GT 750M running Catalina out of the box. You're probably thinking about Apple no longer approving the NVIDIA-made custom MacOS Drivers. Apple still provides thier own drivers for the NVIDIA hardware it still supports.
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