Gurman on Apple’s 2021 M-Series Chip Plans

Speaking of Gurman, I feel like Bloomberg buried the lede on his report this week on Apple’s plans for the next M-series chips, for higher-end MacBooks and Mac desktops. This was the last paragraph in his report, but to me the most interesting:

For later in 2021 or potentially 2022, Apple is working on pricier graphics upgrades with 64 and 128 dedicated cores aimed at its highest-end machines, the people said. Those graphics chips would be several times faster than the current graphics modules Apple uses from Nvidia and AMD in its Intel-powered hardware.

The other stuff was obvious. Of course they’ll just add more high-performance cores to the M-series chips for faster higher-end Macs. They don’t need to make the high-performance cores faster — the M1 Macs already have world-class workstation performance for single core tasks. They just need more of them for multi-core performance.

But the big unanswered question is what Apple has in store for graphics. My hunch has been that they’re getting ready to tell AMD to take a hike. (I’m not sure what Bloomberg is referencing regarding “current graphics modules Apple uses from Nvidia and AMD” — the last desktop Mac to ship with Nvidia graphics was the late 2013 iMac, and the last MacBook with Nvidia graphics was the mid-2014 15-inch MBP. Apple and Nvidia divorced five years ago.)

With CPUs, we’ve long been looking at the performance of Apple’s A-series iOS device chips and saying, “Hey, these look better than Intel’s x86 CPUs used in PCs.” Apple has shown, for years, that they can make not just great mobile CPUs, but great CPUs period. World-class PC graphics chips, though, would require muscles Apple hasn’t come close to flexing in public yet. 64- and 128-core GPUs would probably do it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020