I'm aware of Cringley's accuracy or lackthereof. However I do have to agree with his sentiments. There are a few arguments that make sense but all have their weak points.Why don't you just use the GPU?
- This solution sounds great. We've become accustomed to reading about how awesome some task are when processed through the GPU. The only problem I can readily see is this.
1. Cost- Apple does not want to add an expensive GPU to the Mac mini and Macbook when they will have GMA965 graphics to utilize.
2. Heat. The higher you go on your GPU speed the more cooling you need. I'm not sure Apple's going to want to design around adding beefier GPU. They've already downlocked the graphics speed in the Macbook.A dedicated option is too costly/complex
- Apple has now made the full software stack in 10.5 64-bit. This means they've gone through and cleaned out the muck. I think a side benefit is that they've been able to replace old plumbing with new shiny stuff.
We know that User Interface rendering is going to be threaded in Leopard. This means that Applications will seek to keep the GPU fed at all times. If Apple adds a media co-processor it only need be engaged for non UI benefits. Sure you can encode/decode h.264/AVC video right now but look at your CPU..it's pegged. Imagine being able to encode at the same rate with a co-processor that uses 2 watts of power? Imagine the hit on your CPU only being %10 of what it was before you had the co-processor.
Is there a need?
Look at all the apps that could immediately benefit from a dedicated media co-processor.
Ilife- iDVD, iMovie
Final Cut Pro- Compressor
the list goes on. Anything that has to do with video would benefit. Anything that doesn't deal with video would benefit from having more CPU time.
I'm going to see if I can find some likely candidates should Apple decide to do this. Quite honestly I don't think the chip would cost $50. If Apple was serious about delivering millions of Macs with these chips I think we'd be looking more at $25.
Incidently AMD is developing a platform for their CPUs that will encompass CPU/GPU and co-processors that can be added.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torrenza
Same concept but more ambitious design.
I'm not saying that Apple will do this but the possibility is there.
3Dlabs DMS-02 co-processorhttp://www.3dlabs.com/content/mediaProcessor.asp