Apple Silicon Macs could drop support for non-Apple GPUs

New Apple support documentation seems to suggest that the company’s shift to Macs powered by Apple Silicon will drop support for non-Apple GPUs.

Apple Silicon-powered Developer Transition Kit
Apple Silicon-powered Developer Transition Kit

Mike Peterson for AppleInsider:

In a WWDC 2020 developer session focused on porting Metal apps to the new architecture, Apple made it clear that its Apple Silicon Macs will sport custom Apple GPUs. “Apple Silicon Mac contains an Apple-designed GPU, whereas Intel-based Macs contain GPUs from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA,” said Gokhan Avkarogullari, Apple’s director of GPU software.

While Apple hasn’t exactly detailed what that compatibility means, it seems to suggest that an ARM-based version of macOS could also drop support for Intel, NVIDIA and AMD graphics chips. It is similarly unclear what that means for eGPU support, although that may be more dependent on Thunderbolt 3 and driver compatibility.

Apple has been working on GPU hardware and software for years. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X devices in 2017 were the first to sport Apple-designed graphics solutions.

MacDailyNews Take: Climb onboard the Apple express train as early as you can, developers! Metal, Metal, Meta!

Apple’s “Porting Your macOS Apps to Apple Silicon” states: Don’t assume a discrete GPU means better performance. The integrated GPU in Apple processors is optimized for high performance graphics tasks.

9 Comments

  1. Apple dropping AMD and Nvidia GPUs from high end Macs (top end MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro) for the foreseeable furture would be truly asinine. For mid to low end Macs an Apple designed GPU could easily suffice (think Mac mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air).

    Apple’s home grown GPU is equivalent to, and in some cases better than, the Intel equivalent, but Apple’s home grown GPU is not in the ball park of the high end AMD and Nvidia GPUs. Not even close.

    If Apple put as much focus on a GPU as they do on the A-series chips, could Apple have a then AMD or Nvidia high end GPU equivalent in a few years (3-5)? Yes, but it would be a truly huge effort. Remember that AMD and Nvidia routine increase the speed of their GPUs 25 – 50 percent each year and add more functionality as ray tracing.

    1. Hey, everybody, Apple’s not just going to walk in here and outdo AMD and NVIDIA. You see, they’ve been in this business WAY longer than Apple, and everyone knows that counts for something (I mean, ask Nokia, Palm, and Blackberry!)

  2. At some point Apple hardware would only be able to run Apple apps, given that developers tend to not want to do all that coding for what amounts to a novelty platform. CPUs I can understand, but GPUs? This would be insanity, and it would instantly eliminate a lot fo pro software that people use their Macs for until further notice. Perhaps there is a roadmap, but in the context of this piece, games are one thing, everything else, given that we live in the era of GPU assisted apps? It was ‘stay’ foolish, not become a certifiable fool. I loathe Windows, and Linux is not a pro-level OS for most – this would definitely drive me to Wintel, and I hate that, I really do. There are literally dozens of solid alternatives to Apple’s pro apps on other OSes. They just can’t possibly be this dumb/arrogant. I am not using an iPad (or any tablet) for my work, and that’s final. It simply isn’t a possibility or an option. I’m beginning to feel that anyone over the age of 15 in Apple’s user base had better simply get used to the middle finger.

    1. Any professional app using Metal already (which, if they’re on macOS and professional, they SHOULD be using Metal) won’t have a problem.

      Guess folks didn’t get enough with “Apple can never replace Intel”, now it’s “Apple can never replace AMD/NVIDIA”. 🙂

    1. Watch the presentation. Apple makes it clear that the difference in GPU’s between Apple Silicon and Apple Intel is that Apple Silicon has an Apple GPU.

  3. There is no big surprise here. Apple needs a replaced for Intel’s integrated graphics in their notebook, iMac and Mac Mini products. That’s a no brainer. This is likely only the first stage of their roadmap.

    Developing something that competes with AMD (since NVIDIA support is going away) for discrete graphics is a much longer term proposition. Apple did claim that GPU performance between the first iPad and the current one has gone up 100x. That’s pretty advanced.

    Pro software developers love hardware that makes their apps scream and if that can be done through the Metal layer that abstracts from the GPU, then a high powered, discrete GPU is not out of the question.

    Rather than get our panties in a twist or undies in a bundle, we should take a wait-and-see approach.

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