Apple might completely ditch AMD's graphics solutions and stick with custom A Bionic GPUs for MacBooks beyond 2021
Apple is ready to drop support for all X86-64 processors from Intel starting with the 2021 MacBook series. The company plans to replace Intel’s CPUs with ARM-based models made in-house, as the jump to 5 nm ARM cores should provide a decent alternative to Intel’s 10 nm mobility cores. We have seen a similar move with the Windows-on-ARM laptop initiative back in 2018, but, up until now, the performance of such systems still has been lagging behind traditional X86-64 laptops, so the adoption is not at all rampant. However, Apple’s A Bionic chips are quite far ahead compared to all other ARM-based SoCs, and this switch could prove successful not only for CPUs, but for custom GPUs, as well.
One slide presented at this year’s WWDC event suggests that all Apple mobility products may be dropping any Intel / Nvidia / AMD GPUs (mostly just AMD’s dGPUs, actually) and could switch to in-house GPU versions derived from the A Bionic SoCs. The slide also mentions that Apple’s GPU architecture will use a tile based deferred rendering approach, as opposed to the immediate mode rendering approach used on discrete GPUs, while the Metal API support may be expanded to include other non-mobility lineups, so we could see more powerful in-house Apple GPUs for workstations down the line.
For reference, an almost 2-year-old A12Z Bionic GPU with 8 CUs and 1 GHz core clock was recently compared by Twitter user _rogame with Nvidia’s entry level MX350 15 W dGPU with 5 CUs clocked at 936 MHz, and the results show that the A12Z model is almost as powerful as the Nvidia chip. Keeping in mind that Apple is about to launch its 5 nm A14 Bionic chips with improved integrated graphics this year, we could actually see a reversed situation where the new Apple GPUs are already slightly faster than the MX 350 or maybe even reaching for GTX 1650 territory.