Apple is Planning to Build Its Own GPUs, Too, But Playing Quiet for Now

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There’s information out that Apple is not just likely to be having rid of Intel silicon — it is supposedly likely to be pushing GPUs out of its merchandise as perfectly. That browse is centered on a slide Apple passed about at WWDC that lays the whole matter out quite obviously:


Image by Longhorn

At 1st glance, that seems to be like an open up and shut case. Apple Silicon Macs will have Apple GPUs, with a new tile-centered deferred renderer and assistance for Steel GPU Family members Mac 2 and Steel GPU Family members Apple, whilst past GPUs will only keep assistance for the previous. So, Apple GPUs replaces just about every one AMD remedy on upcoming Macs in two several years?

Which is a heck of a whole lot a lot less obvious.

Apple has already told us that it will end its change to Intel components in about two several years, and the firm has introduced its initiative for that system. It has built no equal commitment to GPU components.

Yes, Apple has working experience in constructing its own cell GPUs, but scaling up a GPU layout is not like scaling up a CPU layout. Assuming Apple’s A12Z is not a large departure from the A12X, we can expect a die measurement of 122mm2. Die measurement on a greater chip like the Core i9-10900K (comparing monolithic die to monolithic die) is 206.1mm2. Only modestly bigger.

122mm2 does not even get the ball rolling, in terms of a high-close GPU. The RTX 2080 Ti has a die measurement of 775mm2. Even AMD’s Radeon VII, although substantially smaller, is a 331mm2 layout. It’s also not an accident that Intel has taken several years to bring a discrete GPU to sector, regardless of the fact that Tiger Lake methods with Xe-course graphics are predicted to ship in the very near upcoming. Just as it will take time to scale up a CPU layout, it will take time to scale up a GPU layout, as well.

What may perhaps materialize is this: Apple may perhaps start its own laptop computer / desktop ARM CPU, with its own Apple silicon, although at the same time supporting AMD (most-probable) GPUs on increased-close Mac components. So lengthy as we’re chatting about an SoC, it can make noticeable feeling for Apple to field its own silicon. The issue is, will Apple start out constructing its own discrete incorporate-in playing cards? It would have to, if it would like to offer top-close graphics performance.

The only way to prevent that necessity would be to layout a motherboard platform capable of managing the mixed heat of a workstation-course CPU + GPU in the identical “socket.” This can theoretically be finished — modern motherboards can field sockets that handle 250W+ of power attract — but you are likely to need to layout an integrated section with a mixed HBM2 stack to feed each CPU and memory. There’s no DDR interface that can feed a top-close workstation card.

It would be a shock to see Apple commission its own discrete GPUs, presented that we have heard not a whisper of a dramatic GPU ramp. Even if the firm will take this move, it seems much more probable to ramp up its notebook and reduced-power desktop graphics 1st although continuing to count on AMD, Intel, or Nvidia for dGPUs at increased performance degrees.

The fact that Apple has not explained anything publicly about the GPU changeover the way it has the CPU changeover indicates to me that the firm is biding its time on the announcement, or maybe feels a little bit a lot less particular about it. Supposedly Apple started investigating its own CPU in 2015 and acquired really serious about the effort and hard work in 2018. It may perhaps not have strike the identical position in GPU quite nevertheless.

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