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What are people unfiltered thoughts on apples new ARM processor? Especially if you are a Mac user?

(I'm an OS hopper, though my main machine is running ubuntu right now, and work machines are usually mac with windows with wsl)

Comments
  • 4
    I just get pissed off when people mention the transistor count. Like no shit they have 16GB of RAM in that package
  • 6
    Promising, but nowhere near there yet - either in terms of performance or app compatibility.

    I'm going against the general YouTubers trend on this - If you're upsetting the ecosystem this much with an architectural change, I'd kinda expect more tbh. At the moment we've just got a bit more battery life and comparable real world performance to last gen macs - bad trade off given the headache of an architecture change imho.
  • 2
    Very surprising. I can't explain how a RISC arch with a significantly lower frequency can rival the best of the best 5 GHz CISC chips

    I don't get it
  • 0
    One word: irrelevant.
  • 1
    If it is good for phones (which is a computer) why not for desktops / laptops? I know it's a simple thought but anyone who can explain it?
  • 1
    @rooter why don't phones have a proper desktop mode support then, if they have a capable hardware? Why should you buy the same damn thing packed in a different box?
  • 2
    @12bitfloat The point is that the M1 at 10W scores like 7500 with Geekbench multi-thread while the 5950X at 140W package power earns around 16000.

    Means, the 5950X needs 14 times as much energy to be only a little more than twice as fast.
  • 0
    @Fast-Nop what about more "mid range" CPUs (especially from laptop segment)? Top of the line CPUs are always a poor trade-off between power and performance.
  • 1
    @iiii Well, these aren't the best 5 GHz CISC chips that @12bitfloat mentioned. For laptops, I think we can drop Intel from the list entirely and look at AMD only.

    The 4800U is the fastest low-power chip that is available (at least in theory), and some 4800U machines can compete with the M1 while others are way below that.

    However, a lot depends on the RAM being used, and by far not all AMD laptops offer LPDDR4-4266 like the M1. DDR4-3200 is more common, and you even see DDR4-2666 used. You can even see single channel RAM configs in AMD laptops, taking another performance hit.

    Also, the 4800U isn't 10W and does need a fan. The faster 4800U machines likely have their cTDP set to 25W.
  • 1
    @Fast-Nop 25w for a fully x86_64 compatible CPU instead of 10w for a castrated ARM SoC seems like a pretty good trade-off for me.
  • 1
    @iiii What exactly is "castrated" about the M1 as CPU? Obviously, the ecosystem Apple builds around that is, yeah, but that's not the problem of the M1 itself.

    ARM Linux does exist, after all, though of course there won't be M1 drivers for now. But that's a SW problem, not a HW one. With the drivers, you could have ARM Linux running and just recompile from source.
  • 0
    @Fast-Nop compatibility with most software in the first place. And the instruction set is smaller. And the fact that it's an SoC which has no room of modification (even just increasing RAM volume).
  • 3
    @iiii SW compatibility is not an issue with Rosetta 2, and no, Rosetta 2 is not a runtime emulator. On top of that, application SW is supposed to be just re-compiled anyway. Well, mostly, except e.g. for hidden bugs that didn't manifest on x86 but can on ARM because of its weak memory ordering.

    The instruction set is of course smaller, that's what the R in RISC means. So what? Nobody codes large amounts of code in assembly, but even then, ARM assembly is so much nicer to code than the pretty insane x86 ISA.

    And the RAM - you can't extend LPDDR4 in ANY laptop, Apple or non-Apple, because this has to be soldered. With RAM sockets, you don't get that RAM speed, and neither the low power consumption of LPDDR (LP = low power).
  • 1
    @RocketSurgeon The ram is not counted in the transistor count. I can prove that:

    The count is said to be 16 billion. If every bit of memory took 1 transistor to make (it will take more than that), then 16GB of memory = 16 billion transistors.

    If memory was counted, then there'd be no transistors left for any other part.
  • 1
    @Fast-Nop with regular CPUs you at least have an option of choice between a device with more ram. Here it is just one position and that's it. No wiggle room
  • 2
    @iiii That's not the problem of the M1 itself, but of Macs being a proprietary platform with only one vendor. Also, the M1 laptops are being offered with 8GB or 16GB RAM, depending on your choice.
  • 0
    @Fast-Nop and you don't really need to write code in assembly. It's a compiler job to produce CPU optimized code and with smaller instruction set there's less room for optimization. Well, unless the CPU with smaller set does more instructions faster than the more feature rich one to finish the same complex computation.
  • 2
    @iiii That's the point of RISC - having fewer instructions, but execute them faster because there's less complexity.

    Actually, x86 are also RISC machines internally because they decode the complex x86 instructions into micro-ops and execute only the latter ones.
  • 0
    @Fast-Nop and that's the main reason I think M1 is pretty much irrelevant: because of the closed platform. It might be good on paper but who cares if it exists only in Mac universe?
  • 2
    @iiii Mac users do, and anyone who develops for iOS of course. Not least because the M1 can also execute iOS apps natively, which should be pretty nice for iOS app devs.

    I might have given this machine a closer look if it were able to run Linux easily, and if it had a standard M.2 SSD slot instead of Apple's insanely overpriced soldered SSDs. With that Apple SSD crap, 256 GB cost much more than a 1 TB Samsung NVMe SSD. That's why Apple is soldering also the SSD, to shut out market competition.
  • 1
    @iiii answering my question with a question doesn't help because it's part of my question and I already stated I don't have the knowledge. I would like to see your questions answered as well.
  • 3
    @iiii So my general verdict is: the M1 doesn't suck, but Apple does, and since the M1 can only be bought in Apple devices, the M1 actually does suck. ^^

    Also, the M1 isn't an x86 killer because the M1 isn't some standard ARM. Apple is quite ahead of the industry in that regard, I'll give them that, and until others (e.g. Qualcomm) catch up with their ARM designs, AMD will be on 5nm too, and have Zen4 on the market.
  • 2
    @12bitfloat because the CISC vs RISC distinction is only in the fetch and decode stages. x86 CISC CPUs convert to RISC micro-ops like @Fast-Nop said, so the actual execution "backend" is similar. With modern instruction caches being large enough and having high enough bandwidth for large parallel fetches and modern branch predictors able to predict those fetches with insane accuracy, it doesn't actually matter that CISC can encode more for less memory, because the other advantages that RISC gives you, mostly superscalar speculative out of order processing, completely overshadows that.

    In practice for everyday code @iiii CISC compiler optimizations don't work all that well compared to the benefits of superscalar OOO. It's the same problem as with VLIW - great for static optimization, meh for dynamic. Yes you can stuff more in less code, but the true bottleneck is the degree of instruction-level parallelism, which is like 2.4 on average (so you can schedule on average 2.4 instructions for execution in one go) and that really doesn't have much to do with CISC or RISC because the reorder buffers of most RISC processors are easily large enough to expose that ILP.

    Also, ARM RISC processors can do something called macro-op fusion which sticks a bunch of ops together that is then treated as a single instruction for better instruction bandwidth, so it *is* doing the CISC optimization when there actually is a benefit, but dynamically in hardware.

    The job of a modern instruction set is to get the computation graph to the processor, not specify in low level details how it'll actually be executed (eg. I'm sure you know that the registers mentioned in the instruction set usually don't exist as such in hardware). After a point most ISAs do that roughly equally well, so might as well use the representation that's easier for hardware to work with.
  • 0
    Something cool: https://youtu.be/4MkrEMjPk24

    Lienus just released a cool review about it
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