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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Buying advice for 13" Retina MacBook Pro: Skylake?

Buying advice for 13" Retina MacBook Pro: Skylake?
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OreoCookie
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Aug 1, 2015, 06:32 AM
 
I got a new job at a Japanese university and I will be able to get a new machine. I already know that I would like to stick to the 13" Retina form factor, so the question is when there will be Skylake-based MacBooks. The 13" model received a small speed bump in May, but Skylake is slated for release in 2H 2015, although I presume they start releasing the ultra-low power and low-power variants first. Any idea when Apple will release a Skylake-based MacBook Pro?
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Mike Wuerthele
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Aug 1, 2015, 07:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I got a new job at a Japanese university and I will be able to get a new machine. I already know that I would like to stick to the 13" Retina form factor, so the question is when there will be Skylake-based MacBooks. The 13" model received a small speed bump in May, but Skylake is slated for release in 2H 2015, although I presume they start releasing the ultra-low power and low-power variants first. Any idea when Apple will release a Skylake-based MacBook Pro?
I think Apple is done with Mac hardware for the year, unless the crap out a Mac Pro.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 1, 2015, 01:42 PM
 
Makes sense, but I hope I don't have to wait too long. I don't think I'm in a rush, and to be honest, it's a sort of luxury problem. My wife has my old machine, though, and since she also wants a 13" she is gracious enough to take my old machine from early 2014 (she's really great ).
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SierraDragon
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Aug 2, 2015, 01:05 PM
 
Apple has been making nice gains in share of the personal non-mobile computing segment.
Skylake provides big improvements, and non-Apple vendors will certainly have Skylake models on the shelves for holiday sales. If as suggested (and likely) Apple waits until 2016 to market Skylake boxes IMO that is just A) lazy and B) dumb on Apple's part.

Apple is normally neither lazy nor dumb. If Skylake boxes are not being introduced pre-holiday Tim Cook should be asking hard questions to his VPs as to why not. Especially since the world is well aware that an inordinate percentage of Apple's earnings are concentrated in iPhone, lots of focus should be being spent on diversifying revenue sources.

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Aug 2, 2015, 02:36 PM
 
All the mobile Skylakes (H, M, U, & Y) are planned for Q4 from Intel. I think that the 15" MBP should be updated sometime in Q4, but the 13" is not quite that old yet - it may be delayed until early 2016, or it may come before Christmas.
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.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Aug 2, 2015, 08:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
All the mobile Skylakes (H, M, U, & Y) are planned for Q4 from Intel. I think that the 15" MBP should be updated sometime in Q4, but the 13" is not quite that old yet - it may be delayed until early 2016, or it may come before Christmas.
Pre-Christmas would surprise me a great deal.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 3, 2015, 05:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Apple is normally neither lazy nor dumb. If Skylake boxes are not being introduced pre-holiday Tim Cook should be asking hard questions to his VPs as to why not. Especially since the world is well aware that an inordinate percentage of Apple's earnings are concentrated in iPhone, lots of focus should be being spent on diversifying revenue sources.
Computers aren't seasonal gifts as much as other gadgetry. A bit of a push comes in the last quarter as professionals invest for tax reasons, but beyond that, back-to-school seasons are the bigger movers.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 3, 2015, 06:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
All the mobile Skylakes (H, M, U, & Y) are planned for Q4 from Intel. I think that the 15" MBP should be updated sometime in Q4, but the 13" is not quite that old yet - it may be delayed until early 2016, or it may come before Christmas.
I reckon beginning of 2016 would be fine, too. I'm in no rush, fortunately, I don't think my appointment funds have to be spent within the first 4 weeks or so
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Aug 4, 2015, 11:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
Pre-Christmas would surprise me a great deal.
I think that if Apple planned to wait until after Christmas with the 15", they would have gone for Broadwell in the last refresh. As it stands, both the 15" MBP and the iMac are on Haswell and barely changed in 2015. The iMac can come any day now (I think Skylake-S will be shown already this week, even if it may be a paper launch), but I would guess that both of them are refreshed at the iPad event that Apple usually holds in the October timeframe.
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.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 5, 2015, 01:11 PM
 
I just read AnandTech's report on Skylake, and while the results do not 100 % apply to the mobile chips that will be put in the MacBook Pros, the results are not encouraging: a meager 5.7 % increase in IPC on average means I shouldn't expect much more. Perhaps the CPUs will have other features that will be worthwhile for mobile use cases.
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P
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Aug 5, 2015, 02:42 PM
 
Main reason to wait for Skylake on the laptop front is, again, integrated graphics. The top "GT4" model supports 3 slices, each with 3 subslices, for a total of 72 EUs - up from 40 in the top Haswell GPU. It also uses DDR4 memory for more memory bandwidth, and supports color compression to make better use of that bandwidth. In sum, it should be at least 50% better graphics performance.

Haven't read all of the Anandtech piece yet, but did anyone else note the max resolution for integrated graphics and think 21" iMac?
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.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 5, 2015, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Main reason to wait for Skylake on the laptop front is, again, integrated graphics. The top "GT4" model supports 3 slices, each with 3 subslices, for a total of 72 EUs - up from 40 in the top Haswell GPU. It also uses DDR4 memory for more memory bandwidth, and supports color compression to make better use of that bandwidth. In sum, it should be at least 50% better graphics performance.
I hope you're right, better GPU performance would be appreciated (I often drive an external display with my MacBook Pro and noticed some stutters when many windows were open, which is basically all the time). But CPU-wise there doesn't seem anything in store. Perhaps Intel was able to improve power consumption once more.
Originally Posted by P View Post
Haven't read all of the Anandtech piece yet, but did anyone else note the max resolution for integrated graphics and think 21" iMac?
Yup, I had the same thought, it was an odd resolution sandwiched in between.
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Aug 5, 2015, 03:36 PM
 
So I finished the review, such as it is without the architectural details. It seems that Intel has added some fixed function hardware to make certain tasks significantly faster, but the main thing in the platform is better connectivity on the PCH. While they don't have the backend bandwidth to the CPU to back it up (it is doubled from Haswell, though), there are a lot of PCIe lanes there, which helps. DDR4 is also not a minute too soon. I would have liked something more than 5% IPC increase though.
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.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 6, 2015, 07:58 AM
 
The other thing that caught my attention was the lack of Crystalwell: I thought this was a longer-term push, but perhaps Intel thought such a large L4 cache doesn't give you enough benefits for cpu-bound tasks at least. It'll be curious to see whether some mobile variants of Skylake come with it — and how many PCIe lanes these mobile variants will have.
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Aug 6, 2015, 03:41 PM
 
There will be GT3e and GT4 variants with Crystalwell, including one variant with 64MB L4 (because segmentation). mobile is where that feature makes sense anyway.

PCIe lane count on the mobile variants will be very interesting, but at least the chipset means that the base variant gets twice the bandwidth.
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.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 7, 2015, 08:08 AM
 
Good to know. I hope that they'll make 2-core variants with Crystalwell this time. BTW, where do you get this information from?
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P
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Aug 8, 2015, 11:16 AM
 
Way too much time spent skimming PC hardware sites... Actually these days I mostly keep track of one in Swedish to know the codenames, and then I google the codenames when I need to check the latest.

I also hope they will make a Crystalwell dual, alternatively a quad in the 28W range that the 13" MBP uses, but the one-two bunch of DDR4 memory and color compression on the graphics should help reduce the need for it. It does appear like there will be a 28W dual with 64MB Crystalwell in the Skylake "U" series, but from what I can piece together, it may be the part of the U-series that launches in January. That one in a 13" MBP would be a great deal, though.
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.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 8, 2015, 10:35 PM
 
I don't care for graphics. I need multithreading for audio work.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 9, 2015, 06:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
I also hope they will make a Crystalwell dual, alternatively a quad in the 28W range that the 13" MBP uses, but the one-two bunch of DDR4 memory and color compression on the graphics should help reduce the need for it. It does appear like there will be a 28W dual with 64MB Crystalwell in the Skylake "U" series, but from what I can piece together, it may be the part of the U-series that launches in January. That one in a 13" MBP would be a great deal, though.
That'd be great, and I bet Apple is pushing for a dual core Crystalwell, too.
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Aug 9, 2015, 07:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I don't care for graphics. I need multithreading for audio work.
Sure, but if they're thermal limited anyway, and are in the linear part of the clock/power curve, adding two more cores means dropping the average clock in half. For bursty things, it might make sense anyway (4 cores and high clock for a split second, and then drop down to 1 or 2 cores to cool off as demand drops) but it doesn't seem like that is what you're doing. 2 cores + HT at 3.3 GHz is pretty good.

(That said, I also want a quad, but that is because I play way too much Civ. I know I don't really need it.)
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.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Aug 9, 2015, 03:39 PM
 
Quad i7 on Civ V on this 2012 RMBP is sweet!
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 10, 2015, 06:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I don't care for graphics. I need multithreading for audio work.
For lower TDPs, a dual core which turbos high offers the best balance of single-to-mulithreaded performance. That's why, for instance, even the MacBook does not feel slow on many common tasks: it turbos very high so bursty workloads such as loading web pages and waiting (allowing the cpu to cool down in the process again) are pretty much as fast as for other machines. If you really need the power of four cores, you have to look at a 15".
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Spheric Harlot
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Aug 10, 2015, 07:54 AM
 
<whine>
But I don't want a 15" 'Book!
</whine>

I REFUSE TO BE BOUND BY THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS!
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 10, 2015, 10:21 AM
 
Ideally, Intel (and Apple) would let you choose, but at least with Broadwell and Haswell, there is no quad-core cpu suitable for the 13". Honestly, it'd make the 13" even more attractive to me, even if just to “feel” faster (4 > 2!).
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P
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Aug 10, 2015, 11:37 AM
 
So I was thinking about replacing my current quad iMac with a 13" MBP with the top 28W dual, and did some quick math. The top 28W CPU right now seems to be the i7-5557U (oh Intel marketing department you!), which runs two cores at 3.1 GHz and a single core turbo at 3.4 GHz. My 27" iMac (from the other thread) runs 4 cores at 2.8 GHz with a max turbo of 3.46 GHz (I'm ignoring all core turbo for the purposes of this discussion - each chip gets max turbo when one or more cores are idle, and the base clock when they're all loaded). Let's assume for a second that one of the mobile Skylakes will have the same clocks on some chip and do some math.

The IPC improvement from Lynnfield (my 2009 iMac) to Skylake appears to be around 35% over an average of workloads. Using HT means that you (according to Intel, admittedly), can get 30% of another core "for free", so the comparison for up to 4 cores becomes:

1 threads: Almost same clock, so the newer chip wins by the 35% margin from the IPC improvement
2 threads: Now the old iMac has a slightly higher clock, (3.33 GHz instead of 3.1), but the IPC improvement is still too large, so the newer chip wins again.
3 threads: The iMac now runs at 2.93 GHz but can put one thread on each core, while the other new chip runs at 3.1 GHz and has to make two threads share a core through Hyperthreading. Math-wise, this still gives us about an 8% advantage for the new chip.
4 threads: The iMac is down to 2.8 GHz but still has one thread per core, while the new chip needs to share both of its cores through HT. This time the iMac wins by the tiniest margin, about 2%.

All in all, they're really quite close even for the 4 thread case. More threads means that the iMac wins more convincingly, but that is rare enough that I'm going to ignore that case. All in all, a dualcore 28W with Crystalwell graphics should be good enough.
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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Aug 12, 2015, 06:06 AM
 
New leaks put the 28W Skylake CPUs in Q1, so I guess that we won't see a 13" until then.
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.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Aug 12, 2015, 07:54 AM
 
Apparently Intel has gotten around to simplifying the line-up, and given that the 28 W cpus are designated to have Iris rather than Iris Pro, I reckon none of them will sport Crystalwell

Edit: I double-checked: if wikipedia is to be believed, than Iris will sport 64 MB eDRAM, yay
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Aug 12, 2015 at 08:30 AM. )
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Aug 12, 2015, 10:49 AM
 
Don't read ANYTHING into Intel's branding. If it is as much as 6 months away, they could still change their mind about the details, but there is at least one dualcore with 64MB Crystalwell dancing around out there in engineering samples. What Intel calls it is not clear at this point, as it isn't even recognized by their drivers. It would be an unprecedented outbreak of sanity, but Intel could name things with 1 graphics slice and no Crystalwell "Intel HD graphics", 2 slices and Crystalwell "Iris" and things with 3 slices and Crystalwell "Iris Pro".
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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Sep 2, 2015, 03:40 AM
 
So most of the laptop CPUs have launched, even if it may be a paper launch, and Intel has some good news for us: All chips with "Iris" graphics now include the eDRAM, so there are 28W and 15W CPUs with 64 MB eDRAM (Iris Pro is now 128MB eDRAM). This means that we could get a quiet refresh of the 13" MBP before Christmas, possibly.

Interesting that the quadcores with eDRAM are missing still.
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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