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Apple's Oct 30, 2018 Mac/iPad event (Page 2)
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OreoCookie
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Nov 1, 2018, 09:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Of course Apple sticks with slower technology. Does the MacBook Air use the fastest CPU available? Is the Intel UHD 617 the pinnacle of GPU design? Of course not. Neither is the SSD, for that matter—the fastest technology available there, strictly, would have to be SLC.
Nope, the fastest would be Intel’s Xpoint-based SSDs that have seek times which are one order of magnitude faster than ordinary SSDs. But those are expensive. Regarding the CPU and GPU, I completely agree, if Apple wanted to put the fastest chip at the same TDP in the Air, then that would have been the A12X: twice the number of big cores that come with higher base clocks and better single-thread performance, four small cores, an XBox One S-class GPU, the Neural Engine as a co-processor … Yeah, that to me is the weakness of the Air and of all other Apple notebooks at the moment.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
For a lot of people, storage space is a bigger deal than raw speed, especially in the (for Apple, anyway) entry-level product in the line.
I understand, but that also depends on the audience: how much storage does the typical Air owner want or need? Regardless of the audience, I think offering a machine with a puny 128 GB SSD these days is just scornful, self-defeating and leads to “customers sat” problems down the line. (My sister could not update her 16 GB iPhone 5 because she had run out of space, and she switched to Android.) 256 GB or, better, 512 GB (for the Pros) should be the minimum in such expensive machines, no matter the memory type.

Our discussion has led me to think a bit more about this, and I think I am coming around a bit to your point of view. Especially for desktops sticking to a single-tiered storage system makes everything very expensive, and IMHO the solution should be for Apple to think about the problem wholistically instead of just changing memory types in their SSDs. A solution akin to Fusion Drive could help out here, although cloud storage may be another. Personally, I think if all Apple machines came with 512 GB SSDs standard, that’d be enough storage for a large share of their customer base.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
The least reliable upgradable SSD in existence is still more reliable than a non-upgradable one, because with the latter, a failure in the RAM or the video card or any other component anywhere on the motherboard becomes a failure in the SSD, since there's no way to remove the drive and recover your data, even if there's nothing actually wrong with the SSD itself.
At least with older mobile Macs that is not correct: there is a special port with which you can recover data from the SSD even if parts of the motherboard have failed. I am not sure whether this is still present in the new machines, though. In any case, the protection here should be to use backups.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
It seems to me that with the advent of cheap backup drives, reliability is not really so much of a concern anymore. Back up your drive.
To me it is less about data loss, I will lose at most a workday worth of data in the worst case scenario (the data loss occurs during a flight where I was unable to connect to my NAS or Backblaze), but component failure would disrupt my work.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Most consumers don't care about this distinction, or in fact need to. If Apple offered a 2 TB TLC drive, and didn't put a truly absurd markup on it, it would be at about the same price as the current 512 GB upgrade, and I daresay it would probably become the single most popular upgrade option for the whole product—and the only real consequence would be some really happy customers since come on, a PCIe TLC SSD is still absurdly fast.
You are right, and Apple currently chooses to put the fastest* SSD on the market in their notebooks (* in that market segment for that price). In the long run, especially when it comes to iMacs where you’d expect to have more storage, I hope Apple will look at the problem with a fresh pair of eyes. Multi-tiered storage would be one solution here, but I could also think of others.
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CharlesS
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Nov 1, 2018, 10:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Nope, the fastest would be Intel’s Xpoint-based SSDs that have seek times which are one order of magnitude faster than ordinary SSDs. But those are expensive. Regarding the CPU and GPU, I completely agree, if Apple wanted to put the fastest chip at the same TDP in the Air, then that would have been the A12X: twice the number of big cores that come with higher base clocks and better single-thread performance, four small cores, an XBox One S-class GPU, the Neural Engine as a co-processor … Yeah, that to me is the weakness of the Air and of all other Apple notebooks at the moment.
Oh dear. There's no way I'm following you down that rabbit hole.

I understand, but that also depends on the audience: how much storage does the typical Air owner want or need? Regardless of the audience, I think offering a machine with a puny 128 GB SSD these days is just scornful, self-defeating and leads to “customers sat” problems down the line. (My sister could not update her 16 GB iPhone 5 because she had run out of space, and she switched to Android.) 256 GB or, better, 512 GB (for the Pros) should be the minimum in such expensive machines, no matter the memory type.
I've had that conversation with a colleague once, too.

Me: Ooh, is that a new MacBook Air?

Colleague: Yeah, but I think it was a bad decision. I'm always running out of space.

Me: Well, uh, it has an SD card slot? You could put a large SD card in there and move some of your stuff to it.

Colleague: (skeptically) Hmm... maybe.

Of course, these days, that solution won't work either.

At least with older mobile Macs that is not correct: there is a special port with which you can recover data from the SSD even if parts of the motherboard have failed. I am not sure whether this is still present in the new machines, though. In any case, the protection here should be to use backups.
That port is gone for the 2018 MBPs. It's been a few months, but what I remember reading is that the T2 chip's encryption kept it from being feasible anymore, so I'd presume the new MBA doesn't have it either. Back up your data.

To me it is less about data loss, I will lose at most a workday worth of data in the worst case scenario (the data loss occurs during a flight where I was unable to connect to my NAS or Backblaze), but component failure would disrupt my work.
On the contrary. In the old days, if your hard drive failed, you could just go to the store, buy a new one, pop it in, format and install, and be up and running again within an hour or two. If the RAM or battery or something failed, you could be back up even quicker. Nowadays, any of that stuff failing means you don't have a computer for a week and a half while you wait for the local Apple store to order a new motherboard.

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Brien
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Nov 1, 2018, 11:38 PM
 
Well, looks like the Verge and other outlets are finally talking about Apple’s price hikes after the earnings call. Sounds like they aren’t done.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 2, 2018, 12:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Oh dear. There's no way I'm following you down that rabbit hole.
You shouldn't. And I think Intel sold their Xpoint fab to their partner Micron. But honestly, this is technology that Apple should (and perhaps is) looking into. It is hard to believe that in 2018, almost 2019 we still haven't recovered from the capacity decrease we incurred when Apple switched to SSDs for storage. When I got my 2014 13" MacBook Pro, it was the first time I couldn't use Migration Assistant, for example. And just now I am (almost) on par with my largest capacity setup (which was a bit of a hack, admittedly, I created a Fusion Drive out of a 180 GB SSD and a 1 TB 2.5" hard drive, so that still offers 18 % more capacity that I have now).
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
I've had that conversation with a colleague once, too.
There are also ultra-low profile large capacity USB sticks, but in the end, those are all hacks.

With SSDs we are still for the most part in uncanny valley even if you take the ordinary prices for commodity storage devices: today I will order two NAS spinning platter hard drives with 8 TB each for $250 and a 500 GB Samsung 860 Evo SSD for $100. I could go cheaper with both, but in terms of what use cases they are designed for (very fast, but not the fastest, and reliable) I think they are comparable.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
That port is gone for the 2018 MBPs. It's been a few months, but what I remember reading is that the T2 chip's encryption kept it from being feasible anymore, so I'd presume the new MBA doesn't have it either. Back up your data.
Your explanation makes sense. I think you mention here another strong incentive for Apple to lock machines down completely: complete system integrity enforced by encryption. You are right about the downside, but I think security is worth it.

I think the question is whether for some machines you can do that and add ports for standard drives. For example, it would have been nice if the new Mac mini came with two m2 SSD slots in addition to the internal one. Ditto for the iMac and iMac Pro. But apart from the new Mac Pro, I don't think this is in the cards.
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
On the contrary. In the old days, if your hard drive failed, you could just go to the store, buy a new one, pop it in, format and install, and be up and running again within an hour or two.
I think the argument is that hardware failures become more rare this way, so the probability that something goes wrong decreases. I'd like to see whether this is borne out by the statistics, but I reckon it is since there are fewer variables to account for.
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OreoCookie
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Nov 2, 2018, 12:14 AM
 
@Brien
I think it makes sense for Apple to do that, and when it comes to the iPad Pro, at least, I think it is justified: CPU- and GPU-wise, only very, very few notebooks are faster (faster than 92 % of notebooks sold last year, and Anandtech's benchmarks of the A12 (non-X) back that up. And if Apple is serious about the iPad as the future of computing for most of us, it makes sense if they extend their portfolio upmarket. As long as they also sell a $330 iPad with reasonable specs as they do now, I am fine with that.

With the other machines, I am just glad I get my machines through work.
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Nov 2, 2018, 07:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
That port is gone for the 2018 MBPs. It's been a few months, but what I remember reading is that the T2 chip's encryption kept it from being feasible anymore, so I'd presume the new MBA doesn't have it either. Back up your data.
If you have FileVault on (and I believe it is the default now), you can't recover files from any Mac that uses it without that key, access port or no. If you have the key and the motherboard is working, just use Target Disk Mode to recover your data - or boot from an external drive. If the flash has worn out, you can still read from it. This might prevent booting, but you can still use one of the above methods to get your data. The only case where that port makes a difference is if the motherboard is dead but the flash storage works. That seems like a very narrow use case. After two years with the new design and them being the only ones that can access that port, Apple must know exactly how often they have to use that port.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
subego
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Nov 2, 2018, 10:36 AM
 
I ran some numbers, and if we take the price of RAM out of the equation ($1K for a 64GB kit from OWC... Christ on a cracker), the base model i7 Mini is actually competitive as a node on a render farm. I’m kind of amazed.

The RAM kills it, though. It needs to be about half that before I don’t feel I’m pissing money away.
     
CharlesS
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Nov 2, 2018, 11:13 AM
 
The Mini's RAM is on SODIMMs, though. So you can just get the machine now, and upgrade the RAM once prices come down. It doesn't all have to be at once.

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subego
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Nov 2, 2018, 06:47 PM
 
In theory I could do that, but it’s going to jack the price per node even higher since I’m buying memory twice.

Three times, really.
     
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Nov 2, 2018, 07:52 PM
 
Are these PC4 28800s? Any internal cooling required?
     
subego
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Nov 2, 2018, 08:25 PM
 
Nope. 21300. Which I assume is why they’re so frigging expensive.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 2, 2018, 09:23 PM
 
@P
Good point, I forgot about FireVault in this context.

It seems to me that the Mac mini is one of the best updates a Mac has seen in recent history: a cornucopia of ports, options for cutting edge technology (10 Gbit Ethernet, 64 GB RAM), stackable by design … It seems as if Apple listened closely to what its customers wanted and gave them exactly that. The only downsides I can see are “non-user replaceable” RAM (which means it is more cumbersome than it should be) and the inability to add one or two SSD sticks to upgrade internal storage. But with 4 Thunderbolt ports, you can add plenty of super fast storage, albeit externally.
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subego
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Nov 2, 2018, 09:43 PM
 
Yeah. This is the first computer Apple’s made in years I’m actually excited about.
     
CharlesS
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Nov 3, 2018, 12:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
The only downsides I can see are “non-user replaceable” RAM (which means it is more cumbersome than it should be)
Huh? They specifically mentioned that the RAM is on SO-DIMMs in the keynote.

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OreoCookie
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Nov 3, 2018, 01:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Huh? They specifically mentioned that the RAM is on SO-DIMMs in the keynote.
I was referring to something else: the RAM is replaceable, but as far as I understand only by certified Apple technicians. That means you don't have e. g. a neatly designed “RAM door” like some of the iMacs have to make RAM replacements easy.
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subego
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Nov 3, 2018, 02:43 AM
 
Presumably it’s better than using two putty knives to pry it open.
     
CharlesS
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Nov 3, 2018, 02:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I was referring to something else: the RAM is replaceable, but as far as I understand only by certified Apple technicians. That means you don't have e. g. a neatly designed “RAM door” like some of the iMacs have to make RAM replacements easy.
Is that documented anywhere? Because from the picture on their site, it doesn't look that bad.


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OreoCookie
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Nov 4, 2018, 03:03 AM
 
I think I heard it either on ATP or The Talkshow, although I was unable to find a reference for that. The best thing I could find was this, which claims you need “a modicum of skill” to replace RAM. Which is probably an improvement over the previous enclosure (my brother upgraded my dad's Mac mini twice, he just wanted to know whether he'd still need them or not ).

Overall, I think you and me or any service tech can replace the RAM, although Apple IMHO apparently makes it harder than it should be. (Although I have to say, the hardest thing I ever had to do was replace the hard drives in these white dual USB iBooks. I loved these machines to bits — except for when the time came to upgrade the hard drive in those things. I think on more than one occasion I had one or two screws left over )
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subego
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Nov 4, 2018, 03:15 AM
 
I remember adding RAM to my PowerTower Pro took something like 28 steps.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 4, 2018, 04:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I remember adding RAM to my PowerTower Pro took something like 28 steps.
I still love the tower design Apple introduced with the B&W G3: by far the easiest to get access to the innards. You could even do that while the machine was running! The most difficult step was clearing the space for where tower folded open and — if your machine was on the floor — to crawl on all fours. I don't quite understand why Apple went in the opposite direction afterwards: the PowerMac G5-style towers are ok (I'm including the original Mac Pros here), and I haven't opened the Darth Vader Mac Pro on my desk.
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subego
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Nov 4, 2018, 05:40 AM
 
Totally with you!

I went from the PTP to a Quicksilver. Absolute night and day.

Now is time for Waragainstsleep to chime in on dealing with the lampshade iMac.
     
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Nov 4, 2018, 10:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I think I heard it either on ATP or The Talkshow, although I was unable to find a reference for that.
I enjoy both of those shows, but they aren’t entirely reliable on facts like these. Marco in particular can speak with absolute certainty about things and then be completely wrong. In his defense, he puts it right at his own expense when told that he’s wrong, but you can’t just pull one quote from one of them and take it as gospel. Take for instance Marco’s explanation of how Intel’s Turbo Boost works, or how Gruber in the Q&A episode completely misread a question because was convinced that the 2018 15” i7 MBPs are still quadcores. They have their areas of expertise, but lately they don’t stick to them. The only one who is more careful when he is not certain about something is John Siracusa.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Nov 4, 2018, 08:26 PM
 
@P
I agree with you, and I don’t take their word for gospel. Gruber is the least technically well-informed of the four and Marco loosely holds strong opinions. I just wanted to be honest about where I have heard it, and (unsuccessfully) tried to back up this piece of information.
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Nov 4, 2018, 08:35 PM
 
What about the Lampshade iMac?

I did enough work on the all white G3 & G4 iBooks that I could remember where every screw went in by heart. No great claim on most machines but those had a crazy amount of screws on all that damned heat shielding.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Nov 4, 2018, 09:39 PM
 
Isn’t the tension arm a bitch?
     
mindwaves  (op)
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Nov 4, 2018, 09:55 PM
 
Just checked Mac mini pricing and I wanted to add a keyboard with numpad....$149 USD!!!! Insane pricing.
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Nov 5, 2018, 06:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Isn’t the tension arm a bitch?
It is if you have to dismantle it but thats not necessary to fit RAM.

Apple techs just replaced the arms I think, weren't allowed to open them up.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
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Nov 5, 2018, 09:04 AM
 
I’ve switched the point of commonality from “RAM installs” to “hardware that’s a pain to monkey with”.
     
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Nov 5, 2018, 09:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
Just checked Mac mini pricing and I wanted to add a keyboard with numpad....$149 USD!!!! Insane pricing.
Unfortunately not, designed wireless keyboards cost something like that. A Logitech Craft is $200. You can find cheaper ones, not a problem, but keyboards designed to look good on your desk are in that price range.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Nov 5, 2018, 10:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I’ve switched the point of commonality from “RAM installs” to “hardware that’s a pain to monkey with”.
Installing RAM in those wasn't too hard, but have you ever tried replacing the hard drive? You literally need thermal paste.

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Nov 5, 2018, 03:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I still love the tower design Apple introduced with the B&W G3: by far the easiest to get access to the innards. You could even do that while the machine was running!
I grabbed a MDD G4 at Goodwill for cheap. It'd be fun to reuse the case and put a PC in there, but the only PC I have any use for is in the theater, and it sits on its side on a shelf, which wouldn't make any sense for the G4. Maybe if I ever have some kind of dedicated PC room I'll do it.

I tried putting it on CL for a while but kept getting people that thought it would be a useful computer, and I had to keep turning them down.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Nov 5, 2018, 06:21 PM
 
Used Macs are crazy prices. Saw a dude asking £1000 for a 2013 retina MBP yesterday.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
mindwaves  (op)
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Nov 5, 2018, 09:14 PM
 
The new A12X is an absolute monster, like Godzilla wrenching type of a monster.

https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/la...-2018-129-inch

I prefer these benchmarks as (some of) them are not synthetic and indicative of real life performance. By this measure, the A12X blows away i7 chips and even has superb battery life.
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OreoCookie
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Nov 5, 2018, 09:33 PM
 
Agreed. I have to say, the want is strong in me. And I could order one via work now. I really would want to work on that thing rather than a MacBook Pro — but, I don't think I can do most of my work-work stuff on there yet.
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Brien
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Nov 6, 2018, 12:21 AM
 
ARM Macs are pretty much a sure bet at this point aren’t they?
     
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Nov 6, 2018, 02:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brien View Post
ARM Macs are pretty much a sure bet at this point aren’t they?
Yup, in my mind Apple was clearly telegraphing they are moving their Macs to ARM by not saying the word Intel once.* Nor did Apple explain why the new (Intel) chips in the MacBook Air are so great compared to their predecessors or benchmark it against the previous-gen Air. There were no GPU benchmarks either that show how much Intel's chips have progressed. And their claim that the A12X is faster than 92 % of all notebooks sold in the last quarter surely includes the new MacBook Air, too. And the 13" Pro. And perhaps the entry-level 15" Pro.

Maybe the new Mac Pro will be an ARM-based machine. If Apple added some logic to the A13X to allow for multi-SoC configurations, that could make for a very tasty machine with a flexible enough architecture to separate it from the other machines on the one hand and allow those CPUs to be re-used on the other. Just imagine four A13Xs in a new Mac Pro, two A13Xs in a 15" MacBook Pro, etc.

* At least I think Apple did not say the word Intel during the keynote, on one slide I remember seeing something like “8th generation core” but without mentioning the manufacturer.
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Nov 6, 2018, 10:29 AM
 
They mentioned an 8th generation dual-core CPU with the latest Intel integrated graphics for the Air.

And this:



http://live.arstechnica.com/apples-o...-making-event/
     
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Nov 6, 2018, 11:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
The new A12X is an absolute monster, like Godzilla wrenching type of a monster.

https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/la...-2018-129-inch

I prefer these benchmarks as (some of) them are not synthetic and indicative of real life performance. By this measure, the A12X blows away i7 chips and even has superb battery life.
I have been reading up on the A12 a little - just tidbits here and there, as there is no real source - and it is becoming a little bit more clear how they did it and why Intel can't catch up.

* The ARM 64 instruction set does some very clever things with trying to extract parallelism from code. In particular, the condition register isn't touched in a lot of cases. This means that reordering is easier and much more valuable. Keeping the A53 and A55 completely in-order is making less sense by the minute
* The A11 increased the decode width from six instructions to seven (per cycle), and the number of integer execution units from four to six. I knew that the Apple designs from the A7 on were very wide, but this is when it finally struck me: Apple analyzed its code and realized that decoding six instructions per cycle wasn't enough, and they could make good use of another decoder. Four integer units wasn't enough, it could use more. Intel had a decode width of four for very long, and it is now five (with some restrictions). It can be six if the code is in the uop cache, but there are other bottlenecks in the design that keeps it limited to four instructions per cycle. I believe that there are four integer units from Haswell on (and if I'm wrong, it's still three). But here is the kicker - Intel has Hyperthreading to fill those parallel units, but it seems to think that it doesn't need more parallelism right now. Put another way - Apple is extracting more instruction level parallelism from one thread than Intel can do from two. That is nothing short of insane.
* Those big L1 caches? Turns out they're another thing Intel needs more power to do. The reasons are hidden in the itty-bitty details of x86 page sizes, but long story short - if Intel is indeed increasing the size of the L1D for Icelake (as is rumored), they're doing so at the cost of going 12 way, which costs energy. Remember that Apple is at 128K L1D already.

I will be honest with you - I don't want another instruction set transition. I want Intel to get back into the game and let the Macs stay on x86.I have to say that it is looking increasingly unlikely. ARM64 is really a well-designed ISA, and now that Intel has lost the process advantage, they have no cards left to play.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Nov 6, 2018, 05:57 PM
 
So do these A12/13 chips have any potential as far as clustering and supercomputing goes? it sounds like they might. is the return of the Xserve on the cards?
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Nov 6, 2018, 10:59 PM
 
Yeah, it feels like Apple will get to 5nm by the time Intel gets to 7.
     
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Nov 6, 2018, 11:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
They mentioned an 8th generation dual-core CPU with the latest Intel integrated graphics for the Air.
I stand corrected. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that it was very easy to miss the mention of “Intel” and the T2 in the MacBook Air and Mac mini received more air time than the Intel CPU.

@P
Yes, from what I have read the large cache sizes are a big factor, especially for a chip that can't spend too much of its power budget on a wide memory controller. It seems that Apple also shuts down part of the caches to save power in some situations — very intriguing.

But let me ask you: why are you wary of a transition to ARM? Apple has managed the two ISA transitions it had perfectly, I think, and each transition came with a lot of benefits for the end user. The first-gen MacBook Pro I had ran circles around the PowerBook G4 it replaced. It seems to me the whole consumer space is moving away from Intel, and a lot of (important) software is much closer to being ISA agnostic than when Apple moved to PowerPC or to x86. Office has been rewritten from the ground up to be platform agnostic and already runs on ARM-based systems. Photoshop, Lightroom and many other Adobe apps already are or will be on Apple's ARM-based platforms. A lot of the software I depend on is open source and can be recompiled from source. Of course if you rely on legacy apps or special software that may or may not be ported, of course, you have a problem.
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OreoCookie
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Nov 6, 2018, 11:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
So do these A12/13 chips have any potential as far as clustering and supercomputing goes? it sounds like they might. is the return of the Xserve on the cards?
I'm not sure. I think currently Apple's play is probably to point you to the Mac mini or a future Mac Pro. But it'd be nice if they made their custom server designs (if they exist) available to some customers.
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Nov 6, 2018, 11:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by mindwaves View Post
The new A12X is an absolute monster, like Godzilla wrenching type of a monster.

https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/la...-2018-129-inch

I prefer these benchmarks as (some of) them are not synthetic and indicative of real life performance. By this measure, the A12X blows away i7 chips and even has superb battery life.
Holy shitballs, those processing times vs MBP are wild! I’m about to get a mini and suddenly started to wonder if an iPP could be used as a media server!?

Has anyone sussed out the best bang-for-buck spec on the new mini? I’m assuming that perhaps going with the i5/i7 but lowest RAM/HDD and then upgrading the RAM and an external Thunderbolt drive may be the best bet...?
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Nov 7, 2018, 12:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Has anyone sussed out the best bang-for-buck spec on the new mini? I’m assuming that perhaps going with the i5/i7 but lowest RAM/HDD and then upgrading the RAM and an external Thunderbolt drive may be the best bet...?
I'd do the following:
- Up the SSD storage to 256 GB — 128 GB is just too stingy and SSDs are more reliable if you keep plenty of empty space on them.
- Get the best CPU you can afford and need.
- If the machine mostly does server duties, sticking to 8 GB initially is just fine. Otherwise, upgrade to 16 GB.
- Get external mass storage according to your needs.

So I'd go for the $1,099 config which includes the 256 GB SSD and a six-core CPU, and then get as much external storage as I would need.
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subego
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Nov 7, 2018, 05:01 AM
 
Storage on the base model i5/i7 is already 256GB, so if that’s enough, Oreo’s got the best bang for the buck recommendation there.

32GB of the appropriate RAM from Crucial is US$285 right now. To round out the earlier discussion of self-upgrades, I’ve heard opening the case needs a special torx screwdriver, and may void your warranty.

To save a little more money, use a USB3 enclosure. It’s slower than Tbolt, but not by a lot.
     
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Nov 7, 2018, 08:54 AM
 
@subego
Yes, that’s definitely an option. If we are talking about a single spinning platter hard drive, then by all means go for USB3. If you want to use several hard drives and do so permanently, IMHO an enclosure would be better.
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Nov 7, 2018, 10:02 AM
 
Yeah I’m also eyeing the base i5. The early benchmarks on the base i3 seem to suggest that it’s probably a bit faster than my 2012 i7 (2.3), so I assume the i5 is probably faster still across the board regardless of the small clock speed drop.

One interesting thing is the heat issue—the i7 is well known to have overheating problems and mine got super hot very quickly on any intensive tasks (like playing a 24-bit ALAC/FLaC or h265 for example)—there are a bunch of tricks people do like re-applying thermal paste inside, etc (not an easy mod for the mini). One of the early reviews noted that the new i7 ran the fans a fair bit under load, whereas the i3 was almost always quiet; and disabling i7 Turbo Boost seemed to mostly turn off that fan. Since the i5 also has Turbo Boost, I may wait and see if there’s any heat/fan differences between the i5 and i7–it could be that the i5 has the same heat and fan noise concerns and if so, I’d probably just go for the i7 at that point. (The i7 with 128Gb and the i5 with 256Gb are the same price up here.)

I’ve used original Thunderbolt drive enclosures since early 2013 (currently a 6-bay) and couldn’t love the standard more. (MacOS had all sorts of USB 3 drive/sleep issues at first which drove me bananas.) I was also thinking about adding more internal space but to be honest, given that this is a media centre/desktop setup for me and I’m not concerned about portability, an extra TB3 SSD enclosure with a decent 1TB drive is probably the smarter and far cheaper bet. I haven’t seen any comments on how many chips/buses (?) are shared between those four ports and whether there are saturation concerns, but keep in mind that there are only two USB ports (and for me, one of them is likely used by a wireless mini HTPC keyboard/trackpad). I’m probably going to see if there are any adaptors for my current TB1 enclosure to the new TB3 ports (?) to save up front costs, but for the future I’m definitely eyeing those OWC TB3 enclosures which are also pretty damn great on space.
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Nov 7, 2018, 11:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Yeah I’m also eyeing the base i5. The early benchmarks on the base i3 seem to suggest that it’s probably a bit faster than my 2012 i7 (2.3), so I assume the i5 is probably faster still across the board regardless of the small clock speed drop.
Be wary when comparing clockspeeds between models with different numbers of cores. That i7 is a quad, and the new i5 is a sixcore, so the advertised base is when all six cores are working. Your clock when only four cores are active will be higher.

Anyway: If it is the CPU that I think it is, your TDP is way higher as well. There is no way that the new i5 will be even close to the old i7.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
@P
Yes, from what I have read the large cache sizes are a big factor, especially for a chip that can't spend too much of its power budget on a wide memory controller. It seems that Apple also shuts down part of the caches to save power in some situations — very intriguing.

But let me ask you: why are you wary of a transition to ARM? Apple has managed the two ISA transitions it had perfectly, I think, and each transition came with a lot of benefits for the end user. The first-gen MacBook Pro I had ran circles around the PowerBook G4 it replaced. It seems to me the whole consumer space is moving away from Intel, and a lot of (important) software is much closer to being ISA agnostic than when Apple moved to PowerPC or to x86. Office has been rewritten from the ground up to be platform agnostic and already runs on ARM-based systems. Photoshop, Lightroom and many other Adobe apps already are or will be on Apple's ARM-based platforms. A lot of the software I depend on is open source and can be recompiled from source. Of course if you rely on legacy apps or special software that may or may not be ported, of course, you have a problem.
Because there is a lot of pain at the transition, the benefits at the end aren't all that enticing this time, I haven't seen a solution for how to replace PCIe, I dislike Apple's current move towards more closed, and I actually like the possibility of being able to run Windows.

But one at a time. There is pain at the transition because everyone has to port things again, and Apple will cut off backwards compatibility sooner than I am really comfortable with. The Mac market isn't that large, so I think that the main source of ported apps will be ported from iOS. That is an idea that scares me. I don't ever want to have to rely on ported iOS apps on the Mac.

The benefits at the end are mostly about power consumption. I don't really care that much. My 2016 MBP is already too thin for a lot of ports, and it easily gets 7 hour battery life without trying to baby it. I can get over 10 with some care. Why do I need more? Even this shitty Dell laptop gets a bettery life that exceeds one day. When it was the PPC transition or the more recent x86 transition, the promise was better performance, because the old platform was dying. That isn't the goal here. I'm sure it will be a little better, but it isn't the doubling of performance overnight that we had last time - and that means that the emulation stage will be even more painful.

PCIe, then. None of the iPads have it - in fact, they have nothing like it. There are no high-bandwidth ports out from the SoC at all. I don't think that Apple will replace it at all, because high-bandwidth ports take a lot of energy, and Apple doesn't want that. They will connect the storage you pay for and that will be it. External connections will be USB, nothing faster than that. Graphics will be only Apple's integrated, always and forever. I don't think you can even run current graphics APIs like DirectX on that design. It will be Metal 2, and the games that run it will be the few that anyone bothers porting to it. It will be a lot more like a console, with its proprietary graphics API.

As for closed... do you think that this new ARM-based Mac will have DIMM-slots? I already said that I don't think we'll see Thunderbolt again. We already can't replace storage, and if you remove PCIe you kill Thunderbolt, which means no fast external storage.. Connecting an external display? Sounds like something you'd need a "Pro" model for.

And Windows... I actually need to run it every now and then. For now I have a gaming PC for that purpose, but I would like them to go back to one "box". This is perhaps aspirational at this point, but there are cases when I need it.

At the end of the day, this isn't a Mac on a new CPU ISA - this is an iPad under another name. I have an iPad, I probably use it more than my Mac because I bring it on every trip, but I want a Mac too. Some of the things I have put up here make me think that Apple will keep x86 on the desktops. That's a compromise, perhaps, but it is effectively the same as killing off the Mac laptop lines for a glorified iPad laptop. The only gain in that, for me, is that it will be a few millimeters thinner. I don't think it is worth the price.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
CharlesS
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Nov 7, 2018, 02:14 PM
 
Here's some very welcome news: the battery in the new Air can be replaced without having to junk the entire top case.

https://www.macrumors.com/2018/11/07...y-replaceable/

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Nov 7, 2018, 04:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Be wary when comparing clockspeeds between models with different numbers of cores. That i7 is a quad, and the new i5 is a sixcore, so the advertised base is when all six cores are working. Your clock when only four cores are active will be higher.
Dumb it down for a stupid person, haha. I was trying to compare my old 2.3GHz four-core i7 vs. the new 3.6Ghz four-core i3 vs. the new 3.4gHz six-core i5.

The initial benchmarks I’ve seen recently appeared to suggest even the new i3 (base) is still a little faster than my old i7. Does that make sense to you, or are there situations when that might not be the case?

Anyway: If it is the CPU that I think it is, your TDP is way higher as well. There is no way that the new i5 will be even close to the old i7.
That’s good news to me!
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