Rumor: Apple to Use AMD SoC for Next-Gen iMac News about AMD has been largely depressing of late, with the introduction of the R9 Fury/Fury X and Nano graphics cards a bright spot in the otherwise tumultuous year that was recently capped by a $65 million APU write down. But one area where AMD has managed to earn a big win has been the console market, where their APUs power the latest machines from Microsoft and Sony. The combination of CPU and a powerful GPU on a single chip is ideal for those small form-factor designs, and likewise it would be ideal for a slim all-in-one PC. But an iMac?
Image credit: Apple
A report from WCCFtech today points to the upcoming Zen architecture from AMD as a likely power source for a potential custom SoC:
"A Semi-custom SOC x86 for the iMac would have to include a high performance x86 component, namely Zen, in addition to a graphics engine to drive the visual experience of the device. Such a design would be very similar to the current semi-custom Playstation 4 and XBOX ONE Accelerated Processing Units, combining x86 CPU cores with a highly capable integrated graphics solution."
Those who don't follow Apple probably don't know the company switched over almost exclusively to AMD graphics a short time ago, with NVIDIA solutions phased out of all discrete GPU models. Whether politically motivated or simply the result of AMD providing what Apple wanted from a hardware/driver standpoint I can't say, but it's still a big win for AMD considering Apple's position as one of the largest computer manufacturers – even though its market share is very low in the highly fragmented PC market overall. And while Apple has exclusively used Intel processors in its systems since transitioning away from IBM's PowerPC beginning in 2006, the idea of an AMD custom APU makes a lot of sense for the company, especially for their size and heat constrained iMac designs.
Image credit: WCCFtech
Whether or not you'd ever consider buying an iMac – or any other computer from Apple, for that matter – it's still important for the PC industry as a whole that AMD continues to find success and provide competition for Intel. Consumers can only benefit from the potential for improved performance and reduced cost if competition heats up between Intel and AMD, something we really haven't seen on the CPU front in a few years now. With CEO Lisa Su stating that AMD "had secured two new semi-custom design wins" In their recent earnings call it could very well be that we will see Zen in future iMacs, or in other PC all-in-one solutions for that matter.
Regardless, it will be exciting to see some good competition from AMD, even if we will have to wait quite a while for it. Zen isn’t ready yet and we have no indication that any such product would be introduced until later next year. It will be interesting to see what Intel might do to compete given their resources. 2016 could be interesting.
Meh. It’s been a solid
Meh. It’s been a solid decade with declining competition from AMD on the CPU front. I think it’s great for them that they can secure wins in consoles and Macs (rumor), but it really has little bearing on “teh PC Master Race”.
Its still interesting because
Its still interesting because we might see more SoC system like used in the PS4 but trading GDDR5 for HBM2.
Many PC today would do fine with 8GB (what HBM2 will bring)
So having a single chip with a high performance CPU/GPU/RAM could do wonder for the x86 eco system beyond consoles and imacs.
You are almost certainly
You are almost certainly going to see APUs with HBM eventually, but I wouldn’t expect to see them in the enthusiast desktop market for a while. They will probably be in mobile devices first. It would make some sense for AMD to make a smaller APU at 16 nm before making a giant GPU on that process. There isn’t actually any guarantee that it is on a silicon interposer, if this rumor is true at all. They could make a powerful device with just a APU, especially if it is 16 nm, connected with a GDDR5 variant. The iMac isn’t really upgradable, so it makes sense to essentially integrate the CPU in with the GPU. That is what these systems with graphics memory are: a GPU with integrated CPU.
I am not sure what kind of APU would be sufficient for the enthusiast market. The GPU component would need to be at least as large as an enthusiast level GPU, and it would probably need 16 GB of memory. I don’t think 8 GB would be sufficient going forward, but having a unified memory space saves quite a bit. You don’t have to maintain 2 copies of everything the way you do with separate memory spaces. This wouldn’t be a cheap device, but you wouldn’t have to buy a separate CPU.
A very long shot. Let’s hope
A very long shot. Let’s hope it will also become reality. We do need a little more competition.
we do need some competition
we do need some competition to keep Intel on their toes. Now they are coasting with processor speed increases/innovation at a minimum. No wonder PC sales are declining. (yes I know that tablets etc. have some influence on that. But really are you going to upgrade your system from 4790K processor to 67/6800 versions? No I did not think so. However I cannot see real competition coming from AMD with their current roadmap. In fact AMD are more wrapped up in their financial problems and their splitting off the graphics division (ATI anyone?)
And we see Apple’s thin and
And we see Apple’s thin and light obsessed design mavens are very interested in those APUs on an interposer, and Apple has the money in petty cash to order a custom Zen based APU on an interposer with HBM for Apple’s Macbook line of laptops, and do away with the need for a separate discrete GPU. Apple could save space and power and Apple could fund a custom Zen based APU on an Interposer with HBM2 SKU for Apples exclusive use. I’ll even bet that the first Laptops to have Zen based APUs will be Apple’s.
The interposer will allow for a very powerful GPU to be added via the interposer, and wired up to the Zen CPU with a Thousands of bit wide traces coherent interconnect between the CPU and GPU, and even PCIe 4 will not have the effective bandwidth to compete with this on interposer ultra wide parallel coherent interconnect, and in addition to that the additional wide(4096 bit) wide interconnect to HBM2. The APU on an interposer is the future with separate CPU and GPU all wired up like they where on a single monolithic Die, and added to that on the interposer will be HBM2, and Apple can afford to source the HBM2, as well as fully Fund AMD’s custom division for its development costs, and AMD would not have to to spend one cent of its cash reserves!
These APUs on an interposer will do away for the need for a large motherboard to Host the system RAM, or discrete GPU and its RAM, and allow for the entire processing/RAM part, CPU/GPU/RAM(HBM), of the system to reside on the interposer with the interposer hosting what was in the past hosted on a larger PCB based main board. The ultra wide coherent interconnects between CPU/GPU/Other processors etched onto the interposer will allow for even lower clock rates and even more power savings while still providing terabytes of effective bandwidth between CPU cores and GPU/ACE units, as has been demonstrated with HBM’s wide parallel interconnect and its low clock rate but high effective bandwidth. Space and power savings are big on Apple’s lists of things that Apple wants for its laptops!
run on sentences, not to
run on sentences, not to mention complete nonsensical drivel
Fix that, and Interposers
Fix that, and Interposers will rule!
How long before there is a
How long before there is a patent suit between Apple and AMD over these potential offerings?
Not likely, though I’d buy a
Not likely, though I’d buy a macbook air with a good APU over the current offerings..
If you guys remember there was another rumour about llano making it into macbook air..
Intel can not compete with
Intel can not compete with AMD on the lower cost SKUs with much better graphics offerings. AMD’s Arctic Islands GPU micro-architecture will have an entirely new GPU ISA with even more asynchronous compute ability on the ACE units. It’s not so much of the Zen CPU core’s IPC improvements that will give AMD’s APUs better performance, it’s that the GCN in the Arctic Islands GPU’s ACE units will be even more able to take the load off the CPU, HSA style, for even more compute power on the ACE units to go along with the Zen core’s IPC improvements. Intel will have to try and match the Arctic Islands’ HSA asynchronous compute abilities, which Intel currently does not have an equivalent of in it’s GPU cores. Intel’s does not implement full unified memory addressing.
AMD’s has its APUs on the interposer coming for its Server SKUs that could make their way into Apple’s Mac Pros, and give Apple even more workstation power, imagine Apple able to have dual workstation APU SKUs offering 2 workstation APUs with each APU made up of up to 16 Zen cores and Arctic Islands pro GPUs and HBM. Apple could forgo any CPU on the motherboard an go with workstation APUs in the same locations it now hosts the discrete AMD GPUs, with each workstation APU having its own pool of HBM, and its own on interposer GPU and Zen cores. The main board space saved could be used for hosting dual PCIe x16 slots loads of PCIe x4 NVM slots and a fast networking channel/s between the dual workstation APUs.
AMD’s workstation APUs could easily be engineered into lower power Interposer based variants that Apple could use for its entire x86 product line, and AMD’s systems on an Interposer will have no competition in the memory to processor, or the processor to processor effective bandwidth at lower clock speeds that an Interposer will allow. Interposers can be etched with 10s of thousands of parallel traces giving CPUs and GPU those ultra wide communication channels that can not be matched on any PCB based main board. Just look at HBM and its total 4096 bit total traces with each HBM stack getting its own 1024 bit wide channel. On an interposer the Zen Cores could be wired directly to the GPU with an even wider parallel coherent channel/fabric able to run at a lower clock speed but have a much greater effective bandwidth for even more power savings.
Intel is too far behind AMD with GPU asynchronous compute ability, and Intel will take years to catch up on that front, so Zen plus the ACE units asynchronous compute ability will be hard to match.
haha, AMD should learn how
haha, AMD should learn how business works. Selling $10 bills for $5 dollars doesn’t get you anywhere. They haven’t made a decent CPU in the last 5 years, but somehow are just going to steamroll there way over Intel? Keep dreaming asshole
Intel has nothing to compete
Intel has nothing to compete with AMD’s HSA asynchronous compute engines, and no unified memory addressing to speak of! Enjoy all those terabytes… of extra data transfers that will have to be wasted transferring data between CPU and GPU on Intel’s SOCs! AMD’s interposer technology and CPU to GPU/other processors coherent interconnect fabric will allow for much faster lower power using communication between the processors on AMD’s APUs on an interposer, and UMA will just need a pointer transfer between CPU and GPU.
Apple is going to like it when its laptops/PC/Workstation SKUs will have plenty of those ACE units taking more of the compute workloads off of the Zen cores! And AMD’s APUs will be doing so while taking up much less space and using much less power than Intel’s systems that will need more motherboard space to host all the PCB based memory on those narrow memory channels. AMD’s Zen based APU on an Interposer with their HBM stacks will take up very little total area, all while having better graphics to offer both graphics and asynchronous compute ability for all of Apple’s systems.
Apple has the money to put Intel completely outside of its x86 based systems, and fund AMD to make a whole range of custom APU parts from the MacBook Air to the Mac Pro. AMD does not need to spent a single cent, as AMD has a custom division waiting for Apple’s funding, and Apple need not worry about buying AMD, because those commissioned by Apple designs will only be used by Apple for Apples internal usage, the same as the console makers APU parts that they commissioned for AMD.
AMD will be around supplying Apple’s total x86/GPU systems needs at a much more affordable price point! It’s not all about the CPU’s cores with AMD’s ACE units doing more compute for graphics and other workloads.
You are just another CPU obsessed peasant that can’t see the massive amounts of GPU compute resources that is the future of computing, with CPU’s relegated to more of the janitorial duties on computing systems, while the GPU takes on more of the compute workloads! Now clean those dirty toilets you CPU peasant Git!
APUs on an interposer Rule! And Apple does not fear Intel!!!
AMD may have a place in
AMD may have a place in Apple’s desktop, workstation, or pro laptop lines where the silicon interposer would be a huge advantage. The problem is that these are actually relatively low volume. I suspect Apple will be using their own chips (A10) for their more mobile products though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the A10 show up in their Mac book air, as this is already close to a tablet.
Sure once the software can be
Sure once the software can be converted over, but Apple sales some Macbooks to people that dual boot windows with OSX, so going AMD’s x86 will probably be what Apple does first. Apple can commission AMD’s custom division to build some APU parts for Apple’s entire x86 line of laptop/PC products, the interposer based APU will allow for more space savings on the Macbook Air, like more space available for a larger battery.
The Macbook Air’s current Intel U series processor is only dual core, and AMD could design a low power Zen variant using the same high density libraries it used to get more circuitry packed onto less space on Carrizo’s CPU cores at 28nm and do that with a low power Zen APU variant at 14nm and get a 4 core 8 thread Zen core with Better graphics ability than any Intel U series SKU. The use of High density design libraries design saved a lot of extra space at 28nm, just think of the added space at 14nm for an Apple custom Macbook Air Zen based APU with Arctic Islands graphics at 2 times better GPU performance per watt than previous GCN generation graphics. AMD in using its high density design libraries can cram a lot more x86 CPU circuity into a smaller space with a CPU made to run at lower power by design. So AMD for Apple could probably put a 4 core Zen in that same space at 14nm than Intel could only fit a 2 core variant of its U series part made with the lower density CPU design libraries that Intel uses.
The Macbook Air is a low power design laptop anyways so AMD’s custom and semi-custom design division could work up a smaller Zen x86 core without haveing to sacrifice features using the high density low power design libraries and get an APU on a Interposer with HBM2 in a pretty small space, and that integrated Arctic Islands graphics would not be constrained by memory bandwidth issues, with the option for 8GB, or 16GB of HBM2.
You’re right Intel doesn’t
You’re right Intel doesn’t have anything to compete with AMDs empty promises and pipe dreams. They’ll just keep making billions at a 65% margin while AMD staves off bankruptcy. Keep up the good work AMD, losing billions every year will work out in the end… just ask this clown.
maybe they should get 1 of
maybe they should get 1 of the interposers lol
AMD would not have to spend a
AMD would not have to spend a penny of its cash reserves if Apple commissions the parts, and Apple has the funds to commission AMD to produce an entire line of custom x86 parts. Apple does not even need to have an x86 license, because AMD’s Custom and Semi-Custom division will produce an x86 part to Apple’s exact specifications using AMD’s available ZEN/Arctic Islands APU IP. Apple could buy AMDs services with petty cash, and get an entire x86 based line of SKUs for Apple’s exclusive use! And Apple could say to Intel, Your tears are DELICIOUS!
The ending sentence reminds
The ending sentence reminds me of the time where Apple supposedly went to Intel to create a processor unit for their first iPhone. Intel didn’t agree on the price for their chips so Apple decided to use another chip instead. From then on, Intel had to play catch up with low wattage mobile processors. I don’t know what’s the status of their chips now, though, but they lagged a bit behind while everybody used arm processors for a good while.
Intel’s high margins in the
Intel’s high margins in the server room is about to come to an end, Google is testing out some Power8 based server system boards from Tyan, and Google can get a Power8 license from OpenPower and have its own Power8’s fabbed for its server room usage, and Intel is out of the loop PDQ! And Google could say to Intel, Your tears are DELICIOUS!
again with the power 8
again with the power 8 nonsense
Yes and Third party OpenPower
Yes and Third party OpenPower licensed power8 systems are already shipping, and Google is testing out some of those Power8 systems for its own server farms with Tyan motherboards. Those power8s eat Xeon’s lunch in the server room, so why would Google not begin to switch over and have some power8s fabbed up for Google’s exclusive use, the Power8’s run on the Linux Kernel and open server software stack. It’s all about getting Intel Outside, and saving more money!
I would think that Apple
I would think that Apple would use their own chips for devices like the Mac book air. It is a similar form factor with power and thermal limitations close to a tablet. The A9 performs quite well, so the next generation A10 could easily be powerful enough to drive a thin and light device. AMD’s APUs could be very good for the larger devices though. I wouldn’t mind having a laptop with an APU as long as it is on an interposer with HBM.
This could really lower the
This could really lower the price of building a good quality hackintosh!
A hackintosh with much better
A hackintosh with much better Arctic Islands graphics than Intel’s gimped GPUs!
Enthusiast make a bit too big
Enthusiast make a bit too big of a deal about the performance of every component. From what I have seen, the CPU has become a lot less important. For most gaming situations, the CPU isn’t going to make that much difference unless you have a really weak processor. There is a reason why the Xbox One and PS4 can use very low power, low single thread performance cores. Most applications that people currently care about the performance of can be accelerated by the GPU now, or just use specialized hardware (video encode/decode). Even if these devices have an excavator based cores, they could offer plenty of performance for applications people actually care care about since most such applications are currently GPU limited.
AMD will probably be powering the new Nintendo console and stuff from Apple. The PC market is hard to compete in. Even if you have the best product in a lower price range, people will still buy based on who has the top product in the highest end price range. The company with the “performance crown” will get a lot of low and mid-range sales based on that, regardless of how their actual low and mid-range products compare. Consoles are obviously immune to this, since the buyer doesn’t really base the decision directly on who made the internal hardware. Apple products are also immune to this since Apple customers will mostly buy what Apple is selling regardless of what components Apple chooses. Also, AMD is probably a lot more willing to make specialized devices compared to other companies.
We could use some different terminology here. An APU connected to graphics memory (whether it is HBM or GDDR5 variant) is far from what comes to mind when people think of “integrated graphics”. It is more of a GPU with integrated CPUs. These APUs will probably compete quite well with even mid-range discrete graphics, especially the mobile chips. The power savings from having everything communicating via the silicon interposer should be a significant advantage. It is unclear whether these devices are going to get the full array of the latest tech though. Will they get Zen or will it be an excavator based variant at first? Will they get the device on an interposer, or will it just use GDDR5 variant? From a performance perspective, a console with excavator cores and GDDR5 would outperform current consoles easily anyway, since they are several years old, and made on a 28 nm process. A device on 16 nm would be enough to easily outperform older consoles. It would make some sense for AMD to make a smaller APU as their first 16 nm device rather than a giant GPU also.
Personally I am really
Personally I am really looking forward to ZEN. I’d like to see AMD take the best price/performance prize again, like back in the socket 939 days.
My current CPU is an Intel i5 3570k. I want my next one to be AMD. I would like ZEN to be as power efficient as Intel CPU’s.
I also don’t think current AMD CPU’s are as bad as people say. They just aren’t as power efficient, or quite as fast in games (Although side by side gaming on my i5 3570k and a family member’s FX-6300 and I can’t tell a difference at all just playing on either one).
I don’t think the design is
I don’t think the design is anywhere near as bad as most people make it out to be. They are not competitive with Intel, but only part of that is the out of date design. The old process tech is also a big factor. The FX processors are, I believe, still on 32 nm. There is no way these can compete with 14 nm, or even 22 nm designs. I think AMD spent a lot of time building up a completely new technology base on which to build their new CPUs and GPUs rather than trying to keep up with Intel with the excavator based designs.
I wouldn’t buy an AMD CPU right now, but I know someone with an old FX 8150, and it still works quite well for the gaming that he does. I hope AMD’s long term strategies work out for them. They will probably be ahead in system architecture for a little while. I have seen some stuff about Intel’s Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB), but this seems to be more of a reaction to silicon interposers, so that tech may not be available for a while after the already shipping silicon interposers. I look forward to being able to get a laptop with an APU on an interposer, but these may only be available from Apple at first if these rumors are true and the rumored SOC is actually an interposer.
AMD win all this kind of
AMD win all this kind of contract but why they still in the red? did AMD offer their solution for a peanut? or did company like Apple simply choose AMD because they can take advantage of cheap pricing?
These deals may work a bit
These deals may work a bit differently than they would with a company like Intel since AMD is now a fabless company.
Sebastian, I have not seen
Sebastian, I have not seen this in any other popular tech sites or business sites. Any idea as to the reliability of the source? Having my entire IRA and much of my brokerage tied up in AMD stock, this would be a small bit of good news after a never ending litany of bad. I have no doubt the potential of AMD in a world where graphics will become ever more important is huge, but it is no doubt hanging on by a thread. I am still on the fence about management, but I think they are very smart and they get much more than many of us think they do, as suggested by putting graphics first and waiting for the new process nodes for their new gpu and zen. Of course I hate them for always seeming to be disingenuous at best, to put it nicely.
Nobody should put their
Nobody should put their retirement in a single investment, or a single company, you should be invested pie chart style depending on your age with more invested in less risky investments as you approach retirement! No more than one third of your investment portfolio should be in risky investments, some should be in government insured funds and some across the market investments. Any one company’s stock can fall and mess up your entire retirement.
The entire CPU/SOC/APU supply chain is moving back to normal with the suppliers of CPU/APU/SOC/GPU parts becoming more commodity like and the hardware suppliers moved back to their traditional supplier roles, with no supplier in total control over OEMs. AMD will be making money, but the market will not allow for great margins like it has offered in the past. Intel needs to be taken down a few pegs by more competition in the parts supply chain, and if AMD goes into more custom work to reach profitability then great. Apple would be good for AMD and Apple can supply plenty of custom parts investment that AMD lacks. It’s not hard to guess why Apple is interested in AMD’s APUs on an Interposer product! The power/space savings alone is enough justification for Apple’s interest in AMD as a custom provider with a proven history of products in the supply chain(console APUs), embedded, etc! So Apple already gets GPU’s from AMD, and Apple has a definite interest in seeing that its suppliers remain healthy and prosper.
If Jim Keller reappears at Apple then maybe Apple was planning all along to switch to AMD’s x86, and I could see Apple wanting a custom Zen based line of parts through AMD’s custom APU division, and AMD has the x86 license to allow for that level of custom service without Apple having to acquire AMD and go through a fight with Intel over the x86(16/32 bit x86 ISA licensing nightmare)! AMD controls the x86 64 bit ISA extensions. AMD offers such great customization terms that Apple need not worry about getting complete control over a commissioned APU from AMD, as AMD’s custom APU division specializes in giving the customer/client exactly what they want.
Many years ago, well before
Many years ago, well before hector the architect of AMD’s downfall, I did well investing in AMD. At that time I built everything with AMD. With Hector in charge and with the release of the core architecture, I abandoned AMD for intel cpu’s and watched the company dig a deeper and deeper hole. But nine or so months ago, with the stock so decimated and with basically no one wanting to get burned by them again, I told myself a very good story about how AMD had some interesting stuff in the works, especially on the gpu side, and how nobody, especially intel, would benefit from AMD going away, and how they could succeed if they were left to graphics alone. I thought the downside was manageable and the upside was a few bucks at least, so I started buying. Soon after the release of the over hyped and disappointing fury, compounded by the horrible 2nd quarter numbers, the stock started to tank. The fury was a no doubt a major let down, but it hinted at what could come from them with a smaller process node and hbm version 2, along with the new architecture. I wasn’t about to dump the stock anywhere near what it was trading at because I still could not imagine a world without AMD. I also did not think Apple, which was using amd gpu’s in the imacs, would be doing so if they thought AMD was going under in the near term.
If this rumor is right, it suggests to me a few things including Apple does not see a world without AMD either, the zen architecture might have legs, and the next version of their gpu with hbm 2 will be highly competitive. Anyway, I like stories, and the one I told myself was compelling. I only invest when the story is compelling, and I never learned to diversify.
I really was hoping my son would want a fury x along with a free sync monitor for his bday and hs graduation. After the reviews, he had no interest in leaving the nvidia camp, and I agreed. But rather than being a spoiled asshole and demand a 980ti, he was willing to wait till next year when both companies will be releasing gpu’s that are significantly different than what we have now, partly due to the smaller process nodes, partly due to HBM 2, and partly due to new architectures. Maybe AMD has been on the right track with their architectural direction for a while, and this next gpu will finally be the one. Wishful thinking, yes.
Your son needs to get his
Your son needs to get his own, and you need to get your retirement invested properly and not take your investment strategy from Las Vegas!
All of you are wrong, it
All of you are wrong, it won’t be an APU for the iMac, it Will be a SoC with a highly integrated Polaris graphics chip with stacked HBM2 16GB, and 16 Zen cores for the new Mac Pro.