THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Funn Media

Jump-Start Your New Year with WaterMinder, FitnessView, and Calory


Posts tagged with "Apple Silicon"

Apple Updates the MacBook Pro and Mac mini with New Chipsets and Other Features

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced new MacBook Pro 14” and 16” models and a new Mac mini via press releases and a video on its YouTube channel. The new laptops are available in M2 Pro and Max chip configurations and feature faster memory bandwidth, WiFi 6E, and the same design as the models they replace. The Mac mini has also been updated to add the M2 and M2 Pro options, as well as other features.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

In its press release, Apple had this to say about the new M2 Pro and M2 Max SoCs:

M2 Pro scales up the architecture of M2 to deliver an up to 12-core CPU and up to 19-core GPU, together with up to 32GB of fast unified memory. M2 Max builds on the capabilities of M2 Pro, including an up to 38-core GPU, double the unified memory bandwidth, and up to 96GB of unified memory. Its industry-leading performance per watt makes it the world’s most powerful and power-efficient chip for a pro laptop.

The 13” MacBook Pro and MacBook Air were upgraded to the base model M2 last year, but the laptops announced today are the first to include the Pro and Max versions of that SoC. Regarding the MacBook Pro, Apple says:

With M2 Pro and M2 Max — the world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a pro laptop — MacBook Pro tackles demanding tasks, like effects rendering, which is up to 6x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro, and color grading, which is up to 2x faster. Building on the unprecedented power efficiency of Apple silicon, battery life on MacBook Pro is now up to 22 hours — the longest battery life ever in a Mac. For enhanced connectivity, the new MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E, which is up to twice as fast as the previous generation, as well as advanced HDMI, which supports 8K displays for the first time. With up to 96GB of unified memory in the M2 Max model, creators can work on scenes so large that PC laptops can’t even run them.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The MacBook Pro with M2 Pro comes in 10 and 12-core CPU configurations that Apple says deliver up to 20% faster performance than the M1 Pro, about what you’d expect from an SoC with 20% more cores. The laptops can be configured with up to 32GB of unified memory that has 200GB/s of bandwidth, which is double the standard M2. The GPU has 19 cores and delivers 30% faster performance, according to Apple. The laptop also features Apple’s media engine that handles encoding and decoding video.

The M2 Max version of the MacBook Pro can be configured with up to 38 GPU cores for what Apple says is 30% better performance than the M1 Max, while the CPU has 12 cores. The MacBook Pro with M2 Max also supports up to 96GB of unified memory with 400GB/s of bandwidth.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple also updated the Mac mini today. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said:

With incredible capabilities and a wide array of connectivity in its compact design, Mac mini is used in so many places, in so many different ways. Today, we’re excited to take it even further with M2 and M2 Pro. Bringing even more performance and a lower starting price, Mac mini with M2 is a tremendous value. And for users who need powerful pro performance, Mac mini with M2 Pro is unlike any other desktop in its class.

The Mac mini, which was among the first Macs to be updated to the M1, is gaining an M2 SoC, with an option to configure the desktop Mac with an M2 Pro. The M2 mini has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and the Pro version comes with a total of four. The M2 model can power two displays, and the Pro model three.

The updates bring WiFi 6E to all of the Macs announced today for the first time too. The only other devices Apple makes that support the faster wireless networking standard are the 11” and 12.9” iPad Pros.

These look like solid updates across the board, but I’m especially interested in the Mac mini, which seems to be the best value among the Macs announced today.

Both Macs can be preordered today, with deliveries starting January 24th.


What Wreckfest Tells Us About the Future of iPhone and iPad Gaming

In November, HandyGames released Wreckfest for iPhones and iPads. The demolition racing game was originally released by Bugbear Entertainment on PC in 2018 and the following year on PS4 and Xbox One. Since then, the game has been brought to current-generation consoles, streaming, and now, mobile platforms.

Although Wreckfest is several years old, it’s one of the more demanding console games brought to mobile recently, which makes it a good test for Apple’s latest SoCs. That’s what MrMacRight did on his YouTube channel, testing the game on everything from an original iPhone SE with an A9 chip to a 12.9” iPad Pro with an M2 chip.

There’s a lot of the sort of technical detail in MrMacRight’s video that I love, along with settings recommendations if you want to get the most out of whatever device you’re using to play the game. To me, though, the most interesting part of the video is the point in the Apple silicon lineup where the game’s performance drops off and how the choices the publisher made to bring Wreckfest to mobile affect the game.

The M1 and M2 SoCs handle Wreckfest well, maintaining an almost steady 60fps throughout. The first dip comes when trying to run the game at 60fps on an iPhone 14 Plus with an A15 SoC that ran into thermal throttling issues. Still, with tweaks to the game’s settings, it remains playable on a wide variety of iPhones and iPads thanks to quality reductions of some graphics assets, which also serve to reduce the size of the game and its memory footprint. Those graphical compromises made by HandyGames are understandable but also a bit disappointing for anyone with an M1, M2, or A16 device, which could handle better graphics and textures.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Wreckfest on mobile compromises on some assets to reduce the size and memory footprint of the game.

Big picture, MrMacRight’s analysis of Wreckfest suggests that we’re still in the early days when it comes to games that approach console quality coming to the iPhone and iPad. Plus, the sheer size of the gaming market that is still on older A-series SoCs means the sweet spot for game development will likely take a few more years before the performance that is possible on M-series and A16-based devices becomes the norm for most mobile gamers. Whether Apple silicon gets to that point before another solution, like game streaming, takes widespread hold, it will likely be one of the most interesting stories to follow in mobile gaming.

Permalink

The Magic of the M2 MacBook Air

Stephen Hackett writing on 512 Pixels about the M2 MacBook Air:

There’s something about the design of this machine that I can’t escape. The footprint is pretty similar between the two notebooks, but in my backpack, there’s a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled that the MacBook Pro has beefed up to be a better computer, but I’m drawn to the clean, simple look of the Air. I know the Pro is a better match for my workflows, but the Air can do everything I need — if just a little bit slower. And I don’t care about that speed difference any time I pick up the Air to take it with me. Something about it just clicks with me in a way I didn’t anticipate.

I completely understand where Stephen is coming from on this. On paper, the MacBook Pro’s advantages are undeniable, but they’re also expected. It’s a bigger, heavier ‘pro’ computer with fans, after all.

In contrast, the M2 Air feels like magic, despite the M1 version that preceded it. The performance boost from the M2 SoC and features like a bigger, brighter screen and a higher memory option are part of it, but so, too, is the fact that the new Air even looks like a MacBook Pro. Yet, the M2 MacBook Air is still the svelte, silent laptop that it replaces, which feels improbable if not impossible. Like Stephen, the MacBook Air has captured my heart, and I don’t see myself switching to a different Mac laptop anytime soon.

Permalink

Digital Foundry Tests How a Fully-Loaded Mac Studio Stacks Up to High-End Gaming PCs

It’s not unusual for Apple keynotes to feature gaming. Sometimes it’s about Apple Arcade, and other times it’s a demo of a third-party title coming to one of the company’s platforms. However, this year’s WWDC keynote was a little different, sprinkling developer-focused gaming announcements throughout the presentation and focusing on the upcoming release of No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village on the Mac. With Metal 3, controller functionality that continues to be extended, and an emphasis on titles with name recognition, many came away wondering if Apple is trying to position its latest Macs as legitimate challengers to high-end gaming PCs.

That’s the question Digital Foundry set out to answer in its latest YouTube video and companion story on Eurogamer by Oliver Mackenzie. When it comes to evaluating gaming hardware, few do it as well as Digital Foundry, which is why I was immediately curious to see what they thought of a fully loaded Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra SoC.

At just slightly larger than an Xbox Series S by volume and with ultra-low power consumption, the Mac Studio is unlike any high-performance PC. Digital Foundry came away impressed with the technical details of the M1 Ultra SoC, which held its own against high-end Intel CPUs and was in the ballpark in comparison to top GPUs:

The M1 Ultra is an extremely impressive processor. It delivers CPU and GPU performance in line with high-end PCs, packs a first-of-its-kind silicon interposer, consumes very little power, and fits into a truly tiny chassis. There’s simply nothing else like it. For users already in the Mac ecosystem, this is a great buy if you have demanding workflows.

However, the system’s performance doesn’t tell the whole story and can’t make up for the lack of videogames available for the Mac:

These results are really just for evaluating raw performance though, as the Mac is not a good gaming platform. Very few games actually end up on Mac and the ports are often low quality. If there is a future for Mac gaming it will probably be defined by “borrowing” games from other platforms, either through wrappers like Wine or through running iOS titles natively, which M1-based Macs are capable of. In the past, Macs could run games by installing Windows through Apple’s Bootcamp solution, but M1-based chips can’t boot natively into any flavour of Windows, not even Windows for ARM.

The upshot is that gaming on the Mac remains a mixed bag. Apple’s most capable M1s make the Mac more competitive with gaming PCs, but it’s not clear that the catalog of games available on the Mac will change anytime soon:

Gaming on Mac has historically been quite problematic and that remains the case right now - native ports are thin on the ground and when older titles such as No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village are mooted for conversion, it’s much more of a big deal than it really should be. Perhaps it’s the expense of Apple hardware, perhaps it’s the size of the addressable audience or maybe gaming isn’t a primary use-case for these machines, but there’s still the sense that outside of the mobile space (where it is dominant), gaming isn’t where it should be - Steam Deck has shown that compatibility layers can work and ultimately, perhaps that’s the route forward. Still, M1 Max and especially M1 Ultra are certainly very capable hardware and it’ll be fascinating to see how gaming evolves on the Apple platform going forward.

Digital Foundry’s results highlight that tech specs are necessary but not sufficient for videogame industry success. The Mac hasn’t been in the same league as high-end gaming PCs for a long time, and tech specs historically were just one of the issues. Given Apple’s lackluster history in desktop gaming, it’s fair to be skeptical about whether the company can attract the developers of current-generation, top-tier games to the Mac. Still, for the optimists in the crowd, the power of the M1 Ultra has brought the Mac a long way from where it stood during the Intel-baed days as a gaming platform. Personally, I’m a skeptical optimist with one foot in each camp. The hardware is heading in the right direction, but the jury’s still out on the software and Apple’s business plan to attract game developers.

Permalink

M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro: The MacStories Overview

Yesterday during their WWDC keynote event, Apple unveiled the updated M2 Apple Silicon chip. While the M2 might not be quite as revolutionary of an upgrade as the M1 was over previous Intel chips, it’s still a very solid year-over-year improvement which continues to boost Apple ahead of the competition.

Debuting with the M2 inside are the all-new MacBook Air and the upgraded 13” MacBook Pro. While the MacBook Pro has very few changes other than the new processor, the MacBook Air sports a completely new industrial design. Let’s take a look at Apple’s latest entires into the Mac lineup.

Read more


Dropbox Releases Apple Silicon Version of Its App to Beta Testers

Last fall, Dropbox caused a stir when one of its employees suggested on a company forum that the cloud service’s Mac app wouldn’t be updated for Apple’s M1 architecture until customers demanded it. The response from customers was immediate and vocal, prompting Dropbox CEO Drew Houston to publicly state that an M1 version of the app would be released in 2022.

The existing Dropbox app uses Apple’s Rosetta translation layer, which is fast but can’t match a native Apple silicon app. The app also uses more power and other system resources than a native version would, and for an app that constantly runs in the background, that was a constant source of irritation for users.

The first sign of an Apple silicon version of Dropbox emerged late yesterday. As reported by 9to5Mac, Dropbox released a native M1-based version of its app to beta testers, which can be downloaded here. The new version of the app, which was noticed by a user in the Dropbox forums, was later confirmed by a Dropbox community manager, as reported by The Verge. Dropbox is very late in updating its app to offer native Apple silicon support, especially given that the service is so widely used, but it’s good to see the company following through with last fall’s promise.

Betas that affect important cloud-based files should be approached with caution, but in my limited testing so far, the M1 version of Dropbox makes a noticeable difference in the app’s resource usage. Before installing the beta, I took a look at its memory usage, which stood at just above 4 GB, a substantial portion of the 16 GB available on my MacBook Air. Immediately after installing the Dropbox beta, memory usage dropped to a much more reasonable 645 MB. That’s a substantial improvement, which coupled with lower power usage and improved speed, should greatly improve the experience of using the cloud service, especially on Apple laptops.


Two Months with Apple’s New M1 iMac

The very first Mac I owned was an iMac. That white polycarbonate, first-gen Intel iMac was the epitome of a family computer, sitting in a central location where everyone in my family could use it for work, school, and projects. I had an early aluminum iMac too, but gradually, portable devices took over, satisfying everyone’s computing needs, and the iMac fell by the wayside.

In the ten years or so since then, the Macs I’ve bought for myself have been laptops and the Mac mini. It’s a flexible combination that has served me well. The mini isn’t as customizable as the Mac Pro, but it suited my needs well, allowing me to easily set up and tear down various peripheral configurations, which became even more useful when I started writing at MacStories. Combined with the MacBooks I’ve owned over the years for when I want to get away from my desk, I haven’t pay much attention to the iMac for a long time.

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

As a result, when Apple sent me an M1 iMac to test, I was curious to see how it would fit in in my home, but I didn’t expect it to rekindle my interest in an all-in-one Mac. Boy, was I wrong.

Read more


Apple M1 Mac Review Roundup: Big Performance and Battery Gains

Last week, Apple unveiled M1-based models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. With deliveries of the computers beginning to arrive around the world, reviews are out, and I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting tidbits from them.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with a few caveats. However, reviewers were universally impressed by the new Macs’ performance and the laptops’ battery life. The experience of Wired’s Julian Chokkattu was common:

Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. The thing’s as powerful as many of the higher-end Intel-powered Macs, blowing past the speed limits of the higher-tier MacBook Air from earlier this year. The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.

What’s especially remarkable about these Macs is that they are low-end models as Jason Snell observes on Six Colors:

It’s all too easy to overlook the fact that these are low-end models, given how fast they are. But this is just Apple’s first step in what the company says is a two-year-long transition. The M1 chip, which appears to be a next-generation riff on the A12X processor in that 2018 iPad Pro, has a bunch of limitations that will undoubtedly not exist on future Apple-designed Mac processors: It only supports two Thunderbolt ports and up to 16GB of RAM. It has no support for external GPUs or discrete graphics of any kind. It can drive a maximum of two displays. It is, by every definition, a low-end chip, the slowest and least capable Mac chip Apple will ever make.

And yet…

Based on my testing, it’s also safe to say that all three M1-based Macs, these low-end systems at the bottom of Apple’s price lists, are among the fastest Macs ever made.

Jason and Myke Hurley also interviewed Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger on Upgrade about the M1 Macs.

Read more


The Independent Interviews Federighi, Joz, and Ternus on M1 Macs

Following Apple’s special event this Tuesday, The Independent scored an interview with Craig Federighi, Greg Joswiak, and John Ternus. The Apple execs provided some fascinating insight into their new M1 chips, including that the speed and battery life of the M1 Macs were far greater than even Apple had imagined they would be before the project began.

Federighi discusses the differences between the new MacBook Air and Pro as well. The Independent’s Andrew Griffin writes:

The M1 arrives at first in three different products: the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. The latter occupies its own place in the line-up, but given that the Air and Pro now have the exact same chip, how can they stay distinct?

“Thermal capacity,” says Federighi decisively. The Pro has a fan – Apple calls it an “active cooling system” – while the Air doesn’t, and the rest of the performance flows from there.

Federighi starts sketching out a graph that will be familiar to anyone who watched the event. The thing that is really holding these chips back is heat: as you give them more cooling to play with, they become even faster. The MacBook has some other things, too – such as even more battery – but it’s that extra headroom that really allows them to roar.

The interview also discusses Apple’s chip naming strategies and their decision to not ship new laptop hardware designs alongside the new chips. Federighi even gets a chance to pour cold water on the popular theory that Big Sur is paving the way for touchscreen Macs:

“I gotta tell you when we released Big Sur, and these articles started coming out saying, ‘Oh my God, look, Apple is preparing for touch’. I was thinking like, ‘Whoa, why?’

“We had designed and evolved the look for macOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch.

Make sure to check out the whole article over at The Independent.

Permalink