Since 2006 Apple has relied on Intel microprocessors to power the Macintosh. Most Macs use Intel CPUs designed for desktop or laptop computers, but one has stood alone: The Mac Pro. For years, Apple has used processors in the Mac Pro designed for workstations and servers — Intel's "Xeon" line. Now that's about to change.
Intel's Xeon processor is compatible with code designed for OS X, but it's designed a bit differently than the chips that power Apple's other Macs. Xeon has beefier Level 3 cache, for example, which can up the operation of some applications. Support for Error Correcting Code (ECC) RAM reduces the likelihood of crashes by detecting and eliminating data corruption. Xeon processors support more cores, beefing up the Mac Pro's horsepower for apps designed for parallel processing.
The downside of the Xeon processor is that has higher power demands and produces more heat than other Intel processors. The RAM it uses is bigger and costs more, too. That's why you find the Xeon only in the Mac Pro. But that's changing. Because Intel has announced plans to release, for the first time, a notebook version of the Xeon processor.
Intel says that it will release the Xeon Processor E3-1500M v5 this year. The new chip is based around Intel's emerging "Skylake" processor architecture. Skylake is Intel's sixth-generation Core processor architecture. It's a new, more efficient and more powerful design that's just starting to see release. Already some Skylake processors have appeared for hobbyists and PC builders. Intel anticipates a wider release over the coming weeks and months as it builds production of the new chip.
Apple hasn't committed to Skylake, but my bet is they will use Skylake processors in the Mac, once they're available in quantities and configurations that make sense for Apple to use. The question is when.
At the start of the year, Apple had largely standardized on Intel's Haswell processors. In March, Apple introduced the new MacBook, which uses a low-power Core M variant of the Intel's Haswell successor, the Broadwell architecture. The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro got the Broadwell treatment in their successive refreshes. Broadwell was supposed to be out in 2014, but its release was delayed because Intel had more trouble than expected ramping up production. Smaller transistor sizes in Broadwell chips demanded more precise manufacturing technology — we're talking about machines that make measurements in billionths of a meter.
Now that Intel has that problem solved, Skylake production is going into full swing. And Skylake offers improved performance and better efficiency than Broadwell. Integrated graphics performance is better in Skylake, too. What's more, Skylake features Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 offers twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, making it possible to create devices like an external Apple display with graphics to match the 5K iMac.
This could pave the way for an extreme version of a MacBook Pro — something designed with Mac Pro levels of performance. That's something that will surely appeal to digital video and audio professionals, graphic designers, artists, engineers, developers, scientists and others who want the most performance possible out of their Macs.
Another possibility exists too: Apple could incorporate the Xeon chip into other Mac models, like the iMac, for example. The iMac's motherboard is a design exercise in miniaturization, and many of the components found on the motherboard of the iMac are designed to work on laptops. There's nothing stopping Apple from offering an iMac with workstation-class hardware.
Of course, there are tradeoffs. The cost of Xeon processors and the cost of associated parts like ECC RAM is more than the commodity hardware used in other Mac models. So expect there to be a significant premium for any systems sporting this new gear. I don't suspect an en masse conversion of Apple's product line to Xeon, just a sprinkling where it makes sense.
One way or the other, Intel's Skylake rollout will be something to watch. Intel is cagey about the actual performance and specifications of the new Xeon chip, only saying that they're "not quite ready to reveal all the details." So we'll see if it even makes sense for Xeon to come to the Mac. We should know pretty soon: Intel's next Intel Developer Forum (IDF) is coming to the Moscone West Convention Center (home to Apple's WWDC event) later this month.
Lenovo announced their first Xeon based laptops
http://www.anandtech.com/show/9503/lenovo-launches-new-p50-and-p70-mobil... If Apple gives me a Retina MBP with almost as many ports and ESPECIALLY 64 gbs of RAM and can deliver it for under 5k, I'm sold. GIVE ME MY 64 GB OF RAM APPLE.
Umm.......why that much RAM? Posted from the Nexus 6, Nexus 5, or Surface Pro 3
3d graphic design is rather intensive, especially if you're running multiple projects at one time. Also, if one uses their laptop as a desktop replacement, hooked up to 2+ monitors they will definitely be doing multiple things on each one. Yah need more RAM to run those heavy programs fast. Google knows why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch. And they're willing to sell it to you.
Sax_Derp summed it up for the most part. While i love the OSX, work demands i dabble a lot in Windows so I like to have multiple VMs running. That along with just having lots of apps running on a multi monitor setup (I output to a 4k monitor on a late 2013 rMBP and you can tell it's hurting) and the resources are consumed before you know it. I'm of the mindset that I rather have too many resources that remain idle than trying to contain my rage and wishing I had more when I need to have more.
Not to mention OSX is terrible at memory management. Windows 8+ has been superb. I only use my 16Gb when I load a >400Mb building in Revit. Or rendering a video in Premiere. My iMac can chew up close to 16Gb with iTunes, Photos and Safari. Sent from the iMore App
You are kidding right?
I believe those are the first machines with integrated Thunderbolt 3 as well (something missing from Skylake contrary to what the author thinks).
And the first ones with a 4k 17inch screen.
*wishes it was 1440p* Google knows why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch. And they're willing to sell it to you.
Yeah, but 17" screens are usually 1080p. I wonder if it's easier to quadruple than to step up to 1440. Or if that even matters. I don't think I've ever seen a 1440 17". Sent from the iMore App
They don't exist and it truly irks me. Keep in mind my usage leans more towards gaming than heavy productivity. 4k isn't worth the performance hit/spec increase, even on desktops, and 1440p panels don't seem to exist on laptops despite the fact that it's the perfect tradeoff between high resolution for space and not clogging up graphics for performance. Don't know how rendering in 4k affects things though. But I know 4k let's one fit more things on a screen. That's about it. Google knows why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch. And they're willing to sell it to you.
I shudder to think what Apple would charge for that RAM, in the unlikely event they offer it.
When I saw the story on ARS I had to check what year it was since it felt like we were going back in time in a way to when laptops weighed 8 pounds or more. Interesting to think of the new CPU's in the iMac. Seems like the iMac has really become the new Mac Pro or is heading that way. Glad the people who need more power will be able to find it soon. I don't think I'm ready to forgive Lenovo for their past sins though.
> What's more, Skylake features Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 offers twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, making it possible to create devices like an external Apple display with graphics to match the 5K iMac. Incorrect, Skylake does NOT include Thunderbolt 3 and has nothing to do with it. Thunderbolt is hosted off on a controller that goes directly to the CPU and in this case, Intel is releasing the Alpine Ridge controller that includes TB3 at 40Gbps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and so on. In other words, companies can add Alpine Ridge controller to older Intel CPUs but Alpine Ridge only came out just now. Mobile Xeon, however, will mandate the Alpine Ridge controller by default.
Should be exciting! I suppose a Xeon Mac Mini is out of the question. :-) Posted via the iMore App for Android
Is this really nessecary though?
I mean the Core i5 has four logical / hyper threaded cores which are more than capable.
What would be so special about the Xeon processor?
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