Apple’s announcement that it was making its own CPUs for future Macs and MacBooks, rather than using Intel processors, has made a lot of headlines, but it now seems like Apple could be preparing to dump AMD and make its own GPUs as well.
The rumor comes from the Longhorn Twitter account, which shows a table that seems to suggest that future Macs using Apple Silicon will no longer support AMD graphics cards, and will instead use an ‘Apple GPU’.
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The future will be very interesting. macOS arm64 according to Apple removes support for AMD GPUs too, Apple GPUs all the way. pic.twitter.com/2hF8RwsO4CJuly 6, 2020
Powerful Macs and MacBooks, like the MacBook Pro 16-inch, come with discrete AMD GPUs, but it looks like that may no longer be the case for Macs running on Apple’s own CPU, at least.
The lack of third-party GPU support also means you can’t use Nvidia GPUs with the ‘Apple Silicon Mac’ either. While no MacBooks or Macs currently come with Nvidia GPUs installed, you can plug in an external ‘eGPU’ to give the machine a boost in the graphics department. It appears that that may also no longer be applicable with upcoming Macs that use Apple’s components.
Apple GPU on the way?
So, will Macs with Apple CPUs also have a new Apple GPU? It’s quite likely – after all, Apple has been using its own custom GPU microarchitecture in its iPhones and iPads for a while now.
In fact, the special Mac mini that Apple has made available to developers, known as the Developer Transition Kit, is powered by the Apple A12Z chip (also found in the iPad Pro 2020), and benchmark results show that its eight-core GPU beats the integrated graphics of both the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U and the Intel Core i7-1065G7.
So, Apple's A12Z running macOS 11 is beating AMD R5 4500U 6CU iGPU in GB5 OpenCL testA12Z GPU> 8CU> 1GHz R5 4500U iGPU> 6CU> 1.5GHzThis is not even the latest GPU core in Apple A13now imaging a GPU with A14 gpu core on 5nm scaled up for the Mac pic.twitter.com/9TVn5svDQDJuly 2, 2020
This kind of performance won’t be able to replace the dedicated AMD GPUs found in the likes of the Mac Pro and larger MacBook Pros. However, it’s unlikely that future Macs will run on the A12Z chip – and the benchmark results that have leaked could be hampered by Apple’s Rosetta 2 tool, which allows apps coded for Intel processors to run on Apple’s new silicon.
So, until Apple makes a GPU that can rival AMD’s graphics cards, it’s likely that the more powerful Macs and MacBooks, which are aimed at creative professionals, will still use Intel processors and AMD graphics cards – for the time being, anyway.
But we may be in for a future where Apple is building GPUs to compete with AMD and Nvidia. Exciting times ahead…
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