Archive for October 18, 2021

Monday, October 18, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

MacBook Pro 2021

Apple (video, Hacker News, MacRumors, Stephen Hackett, Jesper, The Verge, Slashdot):

Apple today unveiled the completely reimagined MacBook Pro powered by the all-new M1 Pro and M1 Max — the first pro chips designed for the Mac. Available in 14- and 16-inch models, MacBook Pro delivers groundbreaking processing, graphics, and machine learning (ML) performance whether running on battery or plugged in, as well as amazing battery life — enabling workflows previously unimaginable on a notebook. The new MacBook Pro also features a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, a wide range of ports for advanced connectivity, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, and the best audio system in a notebook.

[…]

Up to 2.1x faster project builds in Xcode [compared with i9].

[…]

Unlike other pro notebooks that lose performance when they are not plugged in, MacBook Pro delivers the same level of performance whether it is plugged in or using the battery. This unprecedented combination of system performance, on-battery performance, and battery life sets MacBook Pro apart from every other notebook.

[…]

Physical function keys — including a wider escape key — replace the Touch Bar, bringing back the familiar, tactile feel of mechanical keys that pro users love.

[…]

ProMotion technology also comes to the Mac on this new display, featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz.

[…]

Both models feature three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect high-speed peripherals, an SDXC card slot for fast access to media, an HDMI port for conveniently connecting to displays and TVs, and an improved headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones. MagSafe returns to MacBook Pro with MagSafe 3, featuring an updated design and supporting more power into the system than ever before. MagSafe 3 makes connecting a charge cable quick and easy while protecting MacBook Pro. Additionally, fast charge comes to the Mac for the first time, charging up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.

This looks really great, advancing the state of the art as well as righting lots of wrongs. It’s even slightly thicker, at 0.66 vs. 0.64 inches, which is probably inconsequential in feel but speaks to a more sensible balance of design priorities.

The remaining problems carried over from the 2016 design: the huge trackpad that gets lots of accidental input, the keyboard feel, and the glossy display.

Only the M1 Max supports more than 32 GB of RAM, and then the only option is 64 GB. My iMac has 40 GB, which is perhaps the equivalent of 48 GB since none is reserved for video, and I still see a significant amount of paging. So, for a primary Mac, I’d want more than 32 GB, but 64 GB is more than I need and costs $800 extra (including extra GPU cores that I don’t need).

However, that doesn’t yet appear to be a decision that I need to make because, with no external Retina 5K display, I’m going to wait for the forthcoming large-screen iMac.

John Gruber:

People want standalone displays for their MacBooks and Mac Minis. People don’t want to spend $5,000 on a Pro Display XDR. Third-party display makers clearly are not capable or willing of serving the Mac market. So why not get back in the prosumer display game with a $1,500 iMac-quality standalone display?

Marco Arment:

For the first time in five years, the MacBook Pro looks like it was designed by and for people who love computers.

Rich Siegel:

This is the first laptop in 5 years where I don’t feel like I’ve had to settle for stuff I didn’t really want (constrained memory, touch bar) in order to get something I really did (13-inch machine, touch ID).

MKBHD:

Apple flexing so hard about how they gave back ports that they took away is just poetry.

Matt Birchler:

They basically said “using dongles sucks” and I lost it.

But you’ll still need to carry extra cables for Lightning and USB-A devices, and perhaps for Ethernet.

Paul Graham:

Apple got rid of the touch bar! Finally I can buy a new laptop.

Marco Arment:

This turned out less funny than I expected

Well, even Apple’s logo has a notch.

James Thomson:

Menus to the left of me, icons to the right, here I am stuck in the notch with you.

If your menus are short enough.

Joe Groff:

Loving the squared edges, tiny bezels, assortment of ports, and dark keyboard on the new MacBook Pro design

Previously:

Update (2021-10-19): Jason Snell:

Here’s a quirk of the new MacBook Pros. On the 14-inch models, the larger 96W USB-C power adapter is required for fast charging. You can fast charge either via MagSafe or via a standard USB-C cable attached to that adapter. However, on the 16-inch models—all of which come with a 140W adapter—you can only do ultra-fast charging via MagSafe. While there’s a new specification that allows for much higher power delivery levels over USB ports, the Thunderbolt 4/USB 3 ports on the MacBook Pro don’t support it. You can still charge via those ports, of course—just not at the ultra-fastest speed.

[…]

Apple’s argument for getting rid of the SD slot was that the future would be wireless, and we wouldn’t need to use cards to transfer data anymore. It wasn’t true back in 2016, and it’s still not true.

[…]

When the Touch Bar arrived, I thought it had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, there were two big problems: a lack of tactile feedback and software support. […] As for the lack of software support, that comes from the top: After the launch of the Touch Bar, Apple did almost zero to help the hardware fulfill its potential.

[…]

I can’t remember the last time this was true, but both models of MacBook Pro can be configured to the same heights if you want to—every single built-to-order option from the more expensive, larger model is also available in the smaller one.

Matt Birchler:

The SD card reader alone made me want to buy this computer to replace my Air immediately. This is what my computer looks like when I need to import images/video from my modern Canon camera[…]

Matt Birchler:

Most high end cameras can wirelessly connect to your computer (or phone for that matter), but they often transfer super slowly, and sometimes even convert your RAW images to JPG in the process (presumably to improve the transfer speed). Wired connections work, but often transfer speeds are still very slow due to slower USB tech in the device. Using my Canon EOS RP as an example, I can plug in via a USB-C cable, but photos and video transfer at about 1/3 the speed I get from just plugging the SD card into Apple’s SD-to-USB-C adapter.

Another issue is that many photographers shoot with multiple SD cards. If they have a big job, they’re going to have several SD cards with them, and they’ll swap between them as they fill up each card. Needing to use their camera as a several thousand dollar dongle to offload these photos/video to their computer is a pain (and has slower speeds).

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Notch avoidance

See also: Pinboard.

Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max

Apple (video, Hacker News, MacRumors):

The CPU in M1 Pro and M1 Max delivers up to 70 percent faster CPU performance than M1, so tasks like compiling projects in Xcode are faster than ever. The GPU in M1 Pro is up to 2x faster than M1, while M1 Max is up to an astonishing 4x faster than M1, allowing pro users to fly through the most demanding graphics workflows.

[…]

M1 Pro offers up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth with support for up to 32GB of unified memory. M1 Max delivers up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth — 2x that of M1 Pro and nearly 6x that of M1 — and support for up to 64GB of unified memory. And while the latest PC laptops top out at 16GB of graphics memory, having this huge amount of memory enables graphics-intensive workflows previously unimaginable on a notebook. The efficient architecture of M1 Pro and M1 Max means they deliver the same level of performance whether MacBook Pro is plugged in or using the battery. M1 Pro and M1 Max also feature enhanced media engines with dedicated ProRes accelerators specifically for pro video processing.

[…]

Utilizing the industry-leading 5-nanometer process technology, M1 Pro packs in 33.7 billion transistors, more than 2x the amount in M1. A new 10-core CPU, including eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores[…]

Scott Perry:

The M1 Max’s DRAM is as fast as Intel’s on-die LLC circa 2016. Between this and the SSD performance (as fast as RAM was about 10 years ago), Apple is making a mockery of memory hierarchies.

Hector Martin:

As for the M1 Pro/Max, reminder that a single P-core can saturate the M1’s memory bandwidth, even significantly downclocked. And the M1 already has a lot of memory bandwidth. All that extra memory bandwidth in the new chips has to make a pretty big difference.

See also: Ken Shirriff.

Previously:

Update (2021-10-19): Andrei Frumusanu:

Today’s reveal of the new generation Apple Silicon has been something we’ve been expecting for over a year now, and I think Apple has managed to not only meet those expectations, but also vastly surpass them. Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max look like incredibly differentiated designs, much different than anything we’ve ever seen in the laptop space. If the M1 was any indication of Apple’s success in their silicon endeavors, then the two new chips should also have no issues in laying incredible foundations for Apple’s Mac products, going far beyond what we’ve seen from any competitor.

Steven Sinofsky:

Apple’s M1 Pro/Max is the second step in a major change in computing. What might be seen as an evolution from iPhone/ARM is really part of an Apple story that began in 1991 with PowerPC.

[…]

When you look at M1 Pro/Max today it is tempting to think of this in terms of performance, but performance per watt AND integrated graphics AND integrated memory AND integrated application processors is innovation in an entirely different direction.

Update (2021-10-29): Andrei Frumusanu (Hacker News):

The M1 Pro and M1 Max change the narrative completely – these designs feel like truly SoCs that have been made with power users in mind, with Apple increasing the performance metrics in all vectors. We expected large performance jumps, but we didn’t expect the some of the monstrous increases that the new chips are able to achieve.

On the CPU side, doubling up on the performance cores is an evident way to increase performance – the competition also does so with some of their designs. How Apple does it differently, is that it not only scaled the CPU cores, but everything surrounding them. It’s not just 4 additional performance cores, it’s a whole new performance cluster with its own L2. On the memory side, Apple has scaled its memory subsystem to never before seen dimensions, and this allows the M1 Pro & Max to achieve performance figures that simply weren’t even considered possible in a laptop chip. The chips here aren’t only able to outclass any competitor laptop design, but also competes against the best desktop systems out there, you’d have to bring out server-class hardware to get ahead of the M1 Max – it’s just generally absurd.

Andy Somerfield (via John Gruber):

The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the @affinitybyserif Photo benchmark. It outperforms the W6900X - a $6000, 300W desktop part - because it has immense compute performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of data on and off the GPU (UMA).

Yining Karl Li (tweet, Hacker News):

The wider takeaway here though is that in order to give the M1 Max some real competition, one has to skip laptop chips entirely and reach for not just high end desktop chips, but for server-class workstation hardware to really beat the M1 Max. For workloads that push the CPU to maximum utilization for sustained periods of time, such as production-quality path traced rendering, the M1 Max represents a fundamental shift in what is possible in a laptop form factor.

Engin Kurutepe:

This is interesting: only about 6% improvement form 8 core M1 Pro to 10 core M1 Max when compiling a large Xcode project

Jean-Louis Gassée (Hacker News):

The Intel side of our village has dismissed the M1 Pro and Max as impressive but hardly threatening: “Sure, Apple has a fleeting advantage due to their access to TSMC’s denser 5 nanometer process, but once Intel gets there, x86 chips will outperform Apple Silicon, especially with their access to the vast library of Windows software.”

Some things never change. Intel fans had the same reaction, eight years ago, when Apple introduced its first 64-bit processor, the A7 that powered the iPhone 5.

Usman Pirzada:

Almost all of us expected Intel to win on the single-threaded front because of high clock rates and some serious architectural improvements but what is surprising is that they even beat the Apple M1 Max on the multi-threaded front. The Alder Lake Core i9 12900HK mobility processor gets an astounding 13256 score which is followed by Apple at 12753 points. The Intel 11980HK (stock) is further into the horizon at 9149 points and AMD clocks in at 8217 points. This is a generation over generation increase of almost 45% in roughly the same TDP - although not surprising because even though the ADL-P CPU only has 8 “big cores” the small cores have proven to be quite powerful as well.

Now keep in mind, I have no qualms that Apple is still going to win on a power efficiency metric - they always have since the A11 - but Apple’s reign as the fastest mobility chip “period” seems like it is going to be short-lived (we expect ADL-P to land in early 2022).

Update (2021-11-16): Rene Ritchie:

Tom Boger, Vice President of iPad & Mac Product Marketing and Tim Millet, Vice President of Platform Architecture, join me to talk about what they thought when Apple first decided to switch the Mac to custom silicon, what it was like bringing their low/slow/wide approach to a thermal envelope as big as the new MacBook Pro, how scalable architecture really scales up this much (and more), how they think about transistor budget in an increasing post-big compute core world, gaming on Mac, and which MBPs we’re all rocking!

Update (2021-11-24): Timothy Liu (via Hacker News):

I still had questions, so here I am with some (casual) benchmarks that I hope add some additional perspective into interesting hardware capabilities on the M1 Max SOC, just for fun and out of my curiosity.

AirPods 3

Apple (video, Hacker News, MacRumors):

By combining the power of the H1 chip with an Apple-designed acoustic system, the new AirPods use computational audio to deliver breakthrough sound with Adaptive EQ. Users can enjoy spatial audio featuring Dolby Atmos in Apple Music, movies, and tv shows, along with dynamic head tracking, across Apple devices. The new AirPods are resistant to sweat and water, and feature a force sensor for easy and intuitive control of music and phone calls. The extended battery life enables up to six hours of listening time and up to 30 hours of total listening time with the convenient charging case.

[…]

AirPods also feature AAC-ELD, a superior speech codec that offers full HD voice quality, providing clear, natural communication for FaceTime calls.

[…]

A new skin-detect sensor accurately discerns if AirPods are in the ear — versus in a pocket or on a table — and pauses playback when removed.

I like the shorter stem, water resistance, and the fact that Apple seems to have kept its most comfortable shape. I wonder if the increased battery life comes from a larger battery, meaning that the product might last for more years.

I don’t like that it has the less usable pressing controls from AirPods Pro, and the less comfortable case size and shape.

The original AirPods and AirPods 2 were $159. AirPods 3 are $179, but you can now get AirPods 2 for $129. I still like AirPods Pro because of the noise cancellation, but otherwise I’d probably be happier with AirPods 2, even without the $50 savings.

Previously:

Update (2021-10-18): AirPods 2 does not include a wireless charging case. Originally, you could get AirPods 2 bundled with the wireless case for $199. Now, it seems to only be available as a $79 extra, making the total more than with AirPods 3. That’s kind of strange, though for me the wireless case is not very important.

Update (2021-10-25): Hartley Charlton:

The MagSafe Charging Case for the third-generation AirPods features sweat and water resistance, making the standard AirPods the first to feature an IPX4-rated charging case.

Update (2021-10-29): Federico Viticci:

- Case is smaller than AirPods Pro
- MagSafe attachment is awesome for compatible stands
- In-ear shape is definitely bigger than AirPods 2

Mike Rockwell:

The new shape is pretty odd. It feels like they don’t sit as firmly in my ears as the previous ones, so I’m a little worried they’re going to fall out a lot. But I haven’t had any issues so far.

Mike Rundle:

AirPods 3 single tweet review: sound is closer in quality to AirPods Pro than AirPods 2, much better bass response, closer fit in ears is very nice, slightly harder to pull from the case than AirPods 2 but I’m sure I’ll figure out the trick soon, overall a massive upgrade 👍

Matt Birchler:

The case on the new AirPods is noticeably smaller than the Pro and helps it fit way better in the little coin pocket thing in my jeans.

It’s a massive decrease from the Beats Studio Buds case I’ve been using for much of the year.

Rob Rhyne:

The imaging on these 3rd gen AirPods are unreal.

If I press them deeper into my ear, the sound doesn’t change! This Adaptive EQ tech is no joke.

Sound quality is equivalent to the Pros, without the uncomfortable seal. 🤯

Juli Clover:

Overall, reviews of the AirPods 3 were highly positive. Reviewers like the new design, which is more comfortable and offers a tighter and more secure fit in the ears, and the improved fit also makes the sound quality better than before.

Update (2021-11-16): Julio Ojeda-Zapata and Josh Centers:

The first thing I noticed about the new AirPods is how much bigger the buds are. While the original AirPods were a perfect fit for my ears, the new ones are a bit uncomfortable because they’re so large. My wife found even the original AirPods painful, so she declined my offer to try the new ones.

[…]

Automatic device switching moves your AirPods connection between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac depending on which device you’re using. Both Josh and Julio found that it doesn’t live up to its promise.

I hear from lots of customers that they prefer to turn off automatic device switching and use ToothFairy instead.

Update (2021-11-29): Saagar Jha:

Haven’t heard anyone else talking about this, but third generation AirPods are much easier to clean than second generation ones are. As a professional AirPods scrubber™ the design makes the process take under half the time, with better results.

SuperDuper 3.5 Beta 4 for Monterey and Apple Silicon

Dave Nanian:

Part of rolling these Betas slowly involves trying to figure out how to help users when these failures happen: basically, it’s a learning process, and when we can’t refer to the code, and the errors are (at best) a number and a word or two, well, it takes some time.

At this point, though, I’m relatively confident I understand how to work around most of asr’s failures.

[…]

Apple silicon execution require new-style licenses purchased after June of 2019, when our new license system was released. Old licenses will not work natively… and if you want to run natively on an Apple silicon Mac with registered features, you’ll need a new license.

I’ve probably gotten more years of free updates for SuperDuper than any other software I’ve purchased. I ran into the same issue with eSellerate licenses and SpamSieve, except that I used my own licensing system for newer purchases. I ended up supporting the old licenses in the native app by using an XPC service that runs in Rosetta. However, I do not necessarily recommend this approach. There’s a bug where, on certain Macs, XPC messages get blocked: the service never receives them and so the app hangs waiting for a response. I’m guessing this is a Rosetta issue, since I ran into a similar bug with AppleScript and Rosetta and because I’ve not heard of such problems with the many apps that use XPC services of the same architecture. [Update (2021-11-03): The problem seems to be that Rosetta is not installed, and rather than prompting to install it XPC just hangs.]

Previously:

Update (2021-10-28): Dave Nanian (tweet):

At long last, v3.5 is out[…]

[…]

Bootable backups under macOS 11 (Big Sur) and later are a bit strange, because they don’t show up immediately in the Startup Disk Preference Pane. You’ll find they do show up in either Option+Boot (Intel) or Power+Boot (Apple silicon) boot menus, though. And once authorized, they boot nicely.

[…]

A bootable backup cannot start out encrypted, due to macOS rules about creating volume groups. So, after you create a bootable backup, start up from it, turn on FileVault (you don’t have to wait for it to finish), then boot back to your regular drive.

[…]

If you get a “Resource Busy” error during an Erase, then copy error under Big Sur and later, it’s likely your Mac fell asleep during the copy, even though we asked it to stay awake. You can usually fix this by installing Coca from the App Store (it’s free!) and using it to keep the Mac awake during this process.