Apple Silicon: Own Mac GPU instead of AMD or Nvidia graphics

In the future, Apple plans to offer all Mac systems with its own Apple silicone. These chips integrate self-developed CPU cores based on ARM and corresponding graphics units. As a WWDC20 video shows, these GPUs should be so powerful that future Macs will get by without Geforce or Radeon graphics. Previous models of the Macbook Pro, iMac (Pro) and Mac Pro used dedicated GPUs from AMD and Nvidia.

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At the launch of the Apple Silicon, Apple had already shown Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 1080p with a Metal 2 graphics interface, but did not explicitly say which GPU was used. Instead of connecting a Geforce or a Radeon via PCIe – internally or externally – the integrated graphics of Apple Silicon were apparently used. Since the Apple A8, Apple has been using modified PowerVR technology from Imagination Technologies, since the A11 Bionic, the GPU has come from Apple itself.

For the graphics of the Apple silicone, Apple continues to use the basic architecture of Imagination Technologies, a so-called tile-based deferred renderer. The GPUs from AMD, Intel and Nvidia, on the other hand, use an immediate mode renderer. The difference lies in the procedure of the rasterization process, which is carried out either with a tiled frame or with the complete frame.

Macs with Apple Silicon do not use GPUs from other manufacturers. (Image: Apple)

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, whereby a TBR is particularly popular in the mobile segment, since it offers itself there due to the comparatively small bandwidth of the GPUs and the low polygon volume of the games. However, AMD and Nvidia have softened the Immediate Mode since the GCN-v5 / Vega and Maxwell architecture, respectively, in order to also benefit from the higher data locality of a TBR.

Back to the Apple Silicon GPU: In addition to Metal 2, this also supports OpenGL 4.1 and OpenCL 1.1, as well as a Realitykit and Scenekit.

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