Wednesday December 12, 2018 11:35 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Intel today introduced Sunny Cove, its next-generation processor microarchitecture designed to increase performance and power efficiency.
Sunny Cove microarchitecture, built on a 10nm process, will be the basis for Intel's next-generation Core and Xeon processors later next year according to the company, making them appropriate for potential 2019 models of the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and Mac mini.
Intel also unveiled new Gen11 integrated graphics with up to double the performance of its Gen9 graphics paired with Skylake-based processors. Gen11 graphics will support 4K video streams and 8K content creation in constrained power situations and feature Intel's Adaptive Sync technology for smoother gaming.
Intel did not provide a comparison of Gen11 and Gen10 graphics, paired with Cannon Lake-based processors.
For those who are ever-confused by Intel's roadmap, it is believed that Sunny Cove processors paired with Gen11 graphics will be called Ice Lake, which succeeds Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake, Amber Lake, and Cannon Lake.
Intel reaffirmed its plan to introduce a discrete graphics processor by 2020, providing Apple with another option beyond its current provider AMD and former provider Nvidia for future MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro models.
Intel has essentially been iterating on its Skylake microarchitecture since 2015, so it is refreshing that the chipmaker is finally moving on to something new. But with rumors of Macs switching to custom ARM-based processors as early as 2020, it might not be long after Sunny Cove that Apple moves on too.
Apple authorized-reseller Expercom is also offering up to $500 off the 2018 MacBook Pro and up to $290 off a few higher-end 2018 Mac mini configurations, marking the best deal we've seen on the new Mac mini.
While most resellers are currently offering just $50 off the new Mac mini, Expercom is able to offer up to $290 off because they are configured-to-order, open-box models with Expercom-installed RAM. Expercom is an Apple Authorized Service Provider, so this doesn't affect AppleCare eligibility.
Tuesday November 20, 2018 1:11 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple last week introduced new upgrade options for the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro, allowing customers to add Radeon Pro Vega 16 and 20 graphics cards to the device for superior graphics performance.
Benchmarks for the 15-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with the Radeon Pro Vega 20 option have been shared by a MacRumors reader, giving us an idea of the performance improvements over 15-inch MacBook Pro models with the standard Radeon Pro 560X graphics card that was previously the highest-end option available.
The machine, which includes a 2.6GHz Core i7 Intel processor, a Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics card, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD, earned an OpenCL score of 72799. Additional benchmarks found on Geekbench with a similar machine using an upgraded Core i9 processor demonstrated OpenCL scores of 75817, 76017, and 80002.
In a separate benchmark uploaded to Geekbench, the new high-end MacBook Pro with Core i9 processor also earned a Metal score of 73953.
Comparatively, machines with similar specs and Radeon Pro 560X graphics cards on Geekbench earned maximum OpenCL scores of right around 65000 and Metal scores of approximately 57000, suggesting much higher graphics performance with the new Radeon Pro Vega 20 card.
At the current time, benchmarks are only available for the higher-end Radeon Pro Vega 20 card, with no data available for the Radeon Pro Vega 16 card. CPU benchmarks on Geekbench between machines using the new cards and the existing cards are similar because there have been no changes to the CPU.
The new Radeon Pro Vega graphics cards can only be added to the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro model, which starts at $2,799. The Radeon Pro Vega 16 costs an additional $250, while the Radeon Pro Vega 20 costs an additional $350.
Wednesday November 14, 2018 7:48 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following its October 30 media event, Apple quietly announced in its MacBook Air press release that new AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics would be coming to the 15-inch MacBook Pro as of November 14, and the new options have just gone live in Apple's online store.
The high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro can now be custom configured with with Radeon Pro Vega 16 graphics for an additional $250 or Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics for an additional $350.
Configuring a MacBook Pro with the new Vega graphics pushes delivery estimates to November 20 at the earliest, which is a fairly standard timeframe for custom orders.
Friday November 9, 2018 3:02 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple today announced the launch of a new SSD service program for the 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar after determining that the 128 and 256GB SSDs in a limited number of these machines have an issue that can result in data loss and failure of the drive.
Apple says that 13-inch MacBook Pro models with affected drives were sold between June 2017 and June 2018, and Apple will provide service for these drives free of charge.
MacBook Pro owners can submit their serial number on the page announcing the program to see if their machines are eligible for servicing. Apple recommends that affected machines be serviced as soon as possible to avoid loss of data.
13-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar and older 13-inch MacBook Pro models are not affected.
Customers will need to visit an Apple retail location, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or contact Apple Support for a mail-in repair. Apple says that all machines needing service should be backed up first, with the company outlining the repair steps:
Prior to service, it's important to do a full back up of your data because your drive will be erased as part of the service process.
- A technician will run a utility to update your drive firmware which will take approximately one hour or less.
- Your 13-inch MacBook Pro will be returned to you with macOS re-installed.
- After service, you will need to restore your data from a backup.
Apple also recommends having another device, such as an iPhone, available to view the Apple support article with details about restoring data from a backup since the Mac in question will not be able to access the internet until it is updated.
Apple says that files corrupted due to this issue will not be able to be restored, and any damage to the MacBook Pro that impairs the ability to service the drive will need to be addressed first, possibly at customer expense.
The program covers affected MacBook Pro models for three years after the first retail sale of the unit, but it doesn't extend the standard warranty coverage of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Customers who already paid for a repair for a drive failure can contact Apple Support for a refund.
Tucked away in a press release, Apple revealed it is bringing AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics to MacBook Pro for the first time. The company says these new graphic options deliver up to 60 percent faster graphics performance for the most demanding video editing, 3D design and rendering workloads.
The new configurations are set to be custom-order only from Apple's online and retail stores, with availability at Apple Authorized Resellers also expected, from Wednesday, November 14. Apple has yet to release pricing details.
Saturday October 20, 2018 8:13 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has added 2018 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to its refurbished store in the U.S. for the first time. Prices are discounted by roughly 15 percent compared to the equivalent brand new models.
Quantities are limited, so we recommend acting fast or using Refurb Tracker to monitor when inventory is replenished.
Apple says refurbished MacBook Pro models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, with all manuals and cables included in the box. In our view, a refurbished MacBook Pro is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new model, so this represents a good opportunity for savings.
Note that third-party resellers sometimes offer better deals than Apple's refurbished prices, so be sure to monitor our deals roundup.
A refurbished MacBook Pro comes with Apple's standard one-year warranty effective on the date the notebook is delivered. The warranty can be extended to three years from the refurbished purchase date with AppleCare+ for Mac, which costs $379 for the the 15-inch MacBook Pro in the United States.
Apple has also added refurbished 2018 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to its Canadian store at a 15 percent discount.
Wednesday October 17, 2018 8:00 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has added 2018 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to its refurbished store in the U.S. for the first time. Prices are discounted by roughly 15 percent compared to the equivalent brand new models.
A refurbished base model with a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB of flash storage, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 is available for $1,529 in the United States, reflecting savings of $270 off Apple's regular price of $1,799. Available finishes include Silver and Space Gray.
A refurbished maxed-out model with a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 2TB of flash storage, 16GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 is available for $3,139 in the United States, reflecting savings of $560 off Apple's regular price of $3,699. This configuration is currently limited to Space Gray.
A variety of other models, including built-to-order configurations, are currently available. Quantities are limited, however, so we recommend acting fast or using Refurb Tracker to monitor when inventory is replenished.
Apple says refurbished MacBook Pro models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, including the manuals and cables included in the box. In our view, a refurbished MacBook Pro is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new model, so this represents a good opportunity for savings.
Note that third-party resellers sometimes offer better deals than Apple's refurbished prices, so be sure to monitor our deals roundup.
A refurbished MacBook Pro comes with Apple's standard one-year warranty effective on the date the notebook is delivered. The warranty can be extended to three years from the original purchase date with AppleCare+ for Mac, which costs $269 for the the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the United States.
Apple has also added refurbished 2018 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro to its Canadian store, also at a 15 percent discount.
Saturday October 6, 2018 2:35 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Earlier this week, MacRumors obtained an internal document from Apple stating that Macs with the Apple T2 chip, including the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro, must pass Apple diagnostics for certain repairs to be completed.
The document states:
For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair.
• For notebooks: Display assembly, logic board, top case, and Touch ID board
• For desktops: Logic board and flash storage
Apple's diagnostic software is limited to internal use by Genius Bars at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and qualifying institutions, suggesting that independent repair shops without Apple certification would be unable to repair certain parts on the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro going forward.
Moreover, the document reignited a debate about planned obsolescence, as there were concerns that when Apple stops servicing the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro, repairs through alternative channels might not be possible.
The news was quickly opposed by "Right to Repair" activists who believe that Apple and other device manufacturers should be legally required to make replacement parts, repair guides, and tools available to the public. Apple has and continues to actively oppose "Right to Repair" legislation in the United States.
Those activists will be delighted to hear that, for whatever reason, what Apple said in its document isn't actually the case right now.
iFixit is not an Apple Authorized Service Provider, so at this time, it appears that independent repair shops should remain able to repair the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro without issue. It's unclear why Apple's document suggests otherwise, but it's possible the requirement could kick in at a later date.
So why is Apple doing this? It could simply be a mechanism for tracking parts used by their authorized network, to check quality or replacement rates. It's possible that units with swapped parts may operate normally, but still report a failure in Apple diagnostic tests for having 'unauthorized' components installed—much like earlier units did on earlier versions of AST for third party HDD/SSD, RAM and batteries.
Thursday October 4, 2018 12:12 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Due to advanced security features of the Apple T2 chip, iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro models must pass Apple diagnostics for certain repairs to be completed, according to an internal document from Apple obtained by MacRumors.
For the 2018 MacBook Pro, the requirement applies to repairs involving the display, logic board, Touch ID, and top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, trackpad, and speakers, according to the document. For the iMac Pro, the requirement only applies to logic board and flash storage repairs.
If any of these parts are repaired in an iMac Pro or 2018 MacBook Pro, and the Apple diagnostics are not run, this will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair, according to Apple's directive to service providers.
Apple's diagnostic suite is limited to internal use by Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers, as part of what is called the Apple Service Toolkit. As a result, independent repair shops without Apple certification may be unable to repair certain parts on the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro.
Moreover, when the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro are eventually classified as vintage products, meaning they are no longer eligible for hardware service from Apple, repairs through alternative channels might not be possible.
MacRumors has reached out to Apple for comment.
This requirement is a result of the T2 chip, which integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller. It also features a Secure Enclave coprocessor for secure boot, encrypted storage, and authenticating Touch ID.
Update: Despite the specific wording of Apple's document, which says failure to run Apple diagnostics after certain parts are replaced in T2-equipped Macs "will result in an inoperative system," the repair experts at iFixit swapped out the display and logic board on a 2018 MacBook Pro, and it remained operational without passing diagnostics.
iFixit is not an Apple Authorized Service Provider, so at this time, it appears that independent repair shops should be able to repair the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro without issue. It's unclear why Apple's document suggests otherwise.
When contacted by MacRumors for clarification, Apple said the Supplemental Update improves system stability and reliability across a number of areas, and addresses several issues, including crackling audio and kernel panics. Apple said it recommends all users install the update on their MacBook Pros.
Apple Support Communities user takashiyoshida, for example, claimed his MacBook Pro "no longer outputs the crackling noise" after updating.
"This evening, I set the microphone and speaker's sampling format to 44100 Hz and began playing back music on iTunes," he explained. "Before the update, I would normally hear the noise in about an hour. I left my MacBook Pro to play music for about three hours and so far I am not hearing any noises."
Reddit user onceARMY, however, commented that he was "still getting audio crackling noise while playing YouTube content on Safari." He did note that there were "no issues with the Spotify app" after installing the update.
As far as kernel panics are concerned, a handful of users have reported experiencing at least one since installing the Supplemental Update.
"Installed today's update… and then it happened," wrote MacRumors forum member King724, referring to a kernel panic. He shared a log indicating a system crash related to bridgeOS, the device firmware on the logic board that controls many functions on the 2018 MacBook Pro, including the Apple T2 chip.
For context, the T2 chip integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller. It also features a Secure Enclave coprocessor for secure boot, encrypted storage, and authenticating Touch ID.
Prior to yesterday's Supplemental Update, Apple support representatives provided customers with a wide variety of potential solutions to mitigate these issues, ranging from disabling FileVault to turning off Power Nap, but none of the workarounds appeared to permanently fix the problems.
Apple also asked some customers if they would be willing to send in their MacBook Pros so that its engineers can look into the issues. Some customers were apparently told that fixes were in the works, and at least based on what Apple told us, they are included in the Supplemental Update.
This is the second macOS High Sierra Supplemental Update for the 2018 MacBook Pro in as many months, with the first addressing a bug that contributed to excessive throttling of clock speeds under heavy thermal loads.
The Supplemental Update is not available to macOS Mojave users, but the issues could be resolved in future beta versions.
Tuesday August 21, 2018 4:28 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple has added two China-based manufacturers to its list of MacBook chassis suppliers in an effort to push down prices quoted by Taiwan-based makers, according to a new report today by DigiTimes.
China-based Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology and AAC Technologies are said to have obtained Apple certification in 2017, and this year they began small-volume shipments of the metal-alloy chassis for Apple's notebook line-up.
Previous years saw Taiwan-based Catcher Technology, Foxconn Technology and Casetek Holdings dominate the supply of MacBook chassis, and Apple reportedly intends to continue relying on them because of their excellent manufacturing capabilities, but not before it has capitalized on the Chinese makers' lower production costs.
DigiTimes' sources indicate that for Taiwan makers, competition from China rivals will have more impact on their gross margins than on order volumes. To offset the impact, Taiwan companies have increasingly sought orders from Chinese brand vendors of high-end devices like laptops. Responding to the rumored potential of Chinese competition for Apple's business, for example, Catcher said its outlook for 2018 remained unchanged.
Apple is expected to release a new low-cost MacBook Air later this year that will be similar in design to the current MacBook Air, but with slimmer bezels around the display. Based on the latest rumor, the new machine will be a straight MacBook Air upgrade aimed at students and schools, with a lower price tag than MacBooks in the MacBook family.
It remains unclear how a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Air fits in with Apple's existing 12-inch Retina MacBook lineup, so the company's plans for its upcoming notebook range could still throw up a surprise or two.
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