from the what-would-Linus-do? dept.
In a recent post on the Real World Technologies forum—one of the few public internet venues Linux founder Linus Torvalds is known to regularly visit—a user named Paul asked Torvalds, "What do you think of the new Apple laptop?"
If you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks, Apple released new versions of the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, and Mac Mini featuring a brand-new processor—the Apple M1.
The M1 processor is a successor to the A12 and A14 Bionic CPUs used in iPhones and iPads, and pairs the battery and thermal efficiency of ultramobile designs with the high performance needed to compete strongly in the laptop and desktop world.
"I'd absolutely love to have one, if it just ran Linux," Torvalds replied. "I've been waiting for an ARM laptop that can run Linux for a long time. The new [Macbook] Air would be almost perfect, except for the OS."
[...] In an interview with ZDNet, Torvalds expounded on the problem:
The main problem with the M1 for me is the GPU and other devices around it, because that's likely what would hold me off using it because it wouldn't have any Linux support unless Apple opens up... [that] seems unlikely, but hey, you can always hope.
[...] It's also worth noting that while the M1 is unabashedly great, it's not the final word in desktop or laptop System on Chip designs. Torvalds mentions that, given a choice, he'd prefer more and higher-power cores—which is certainly possible and seems a likely request to be granted soon.
Apple will start switching its Macs to its own ARM-based processors later this year, but you won't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp mode on them. Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers to preinstall on new hardware, and the company hasn't made copies of the operating system available for anyone to license or freely install.
"Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs," says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. We asked Microsoft if it plans to change this policy to allow Windows 10 on ARM-based Macs, and the company says "we have nothing further to share at this time."
[...] Apple later confirmed it's not planning to support Boot Camp on ARM-based Macs in a Daring Fireball podcast. "We're not direct booting an alternate operating system," says Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. "Purely virtualization is the route. These hypervisors can be very efficient, so the need to direct boot shouldn't really be the concern."
The new processor is called the Apple M1, the company's first SoC designed with Macs in mind. With four large performance cores, four efficiency cores, and an 8-GPU core GPU, it features 16 billion transistors on a 5nm process node. Apple's is starting a new SoC naming scheme for this new family of processors, but at least on paper it looks a lot like an A14X.
[...] Apple made mention that the M1 is a true SoC, including the functionality of what previously was several discrete chips inside of Mac laptops, such as I/O controllers and Apple's SSD and security controllers.
[....] Whilst in the past 5 years Intel has managed to increase their best single-thread performance by about 28%, Apple has managed to improve their designs by 198%, or 2.98x (let's call it 3x) the performance of the Apple A9 of late 2015.
[...] Apple has claimed that they will completely transition their whole consumer line-up to Apple Silicon within two years, which is an indicator that we'll be seeing a high-TDP many-core design to power a future Mac Pro. If the company is able to continue on their current performance trajectory, it will look extremely impressive.
On modern versions of macOS, you simply can't power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored.
It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn't realize this, because it's silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you're offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn't hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone's apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet.
Because it does this using the internet, the server sees your IP, of course, and knows what time the request came in. An IP address allows for coarse, city-level and ISP-level geolocation, and allows for a table that has the following headings: Date, Time, Computer, ISP, City, State, Application Hash
Apple (or anyone else) can, of course, calculate these hashes for common programs: everything in the App Store, the Creative Cloud, Tor Browser, cracking or reverse engineering tools, whatever.
This means that Apple knows when you're at home. When you're at work. What apps you open there, and how often. They know when you open Premiere over at a friend's house on their Wi-Fi, and they know when you open Tor Browser in a hotel on a trip to another city.
There's nothing quite like some fun holiday-weekend reading as a fiery mailing list post by Linus Torvalds. The Linux creator is out with one of his classical messages, which this time is arguing over the importance of ECC memory and his opinion on how Intel's "bad policies" and market segmentation have made ECC memory less widespread.
Linus argues that error-correcting code (ECC) memory "absolutely matters" but that "Intel has been instrumental in killing the whole ECC industry with it's horribly bad market segmentation... Intel has been detrimental to the whole industry and to users because of their bad and misguided policies wrt ECC. Seriously...The arguments against ECC were always complete and utter garbage... Now even the memory manufacturers are starting [to] do ECC internally because they finally owned up to the fact that they absolutely have to. And the memory manufacturers claim it's because of economics and lower power. And they are lying bastards - let me once again point to row-hammer about how those problems have existed for several generations already, but these f*ckers happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners"."
Ian Cutress from AnandTech points out in a reply that AMD's Ryzen ECC support is not as solid as believed.
Related: Linus Torvalds: 'I'm Not a Programmer Anymore'
Linus Torvalds Rejects "Beyond Stupid" Intel Security Patch From Amazon Web Services
Linus Torvalds: Don't Hide Rust in Linux Kernel; Death to AVX-512
Linus Torvalds Doubts Linux will Get Ported to Apple M1 Hardware
Citing sources close to Apple, a new report in Bloomberg outlines Apple's roadmap for moving the entire Mac lineup to the company's own custom-designed silicon, including both planned release windows for specific products and estimations as to how many performance CPU cores those products will have.
[...] New chips for the high-end MacBook Pro and iMac computers could have as many as 16 performance cores (the M1 has four). And the planned Mac Pro replacement could have as many as 32. The report is careful to clarify that Apple could, for one reason or another, choose to only release Macs with 8 or 12 cores at first but that the company is working on chip variants with the higher core count, in any case.
The report reveals two other tidbits. First, a direct relative to the M1 will power new iPad Pro models due to be introduced next year, and second, the faster M1 successors for the MacBook Pro and desktop computers will also feature more GPU cores for graphics processing—specifically, 16 or 32 cores. Further, Apple is working on "pricier graphics upgrades with 64 and 128 dedicated cores aimed at its highest-end machines" for 2022 or late 2021.
New Mac models could have additional efficiency cores alongside 8/12/16/32 performance cores. Bloomberg claimed the existence of a 12-core (8 performance "Firestorm" cores, 4 efficiency "Icestorm" cores) back in April which has not materialized yet.
The Apple M1 SoC has 8 GPU cores.
Previously: Apple Announces 2-Year Transition to ARM SoCs in Mac Desktops and Laptops
Apple Has Built its Own Mac Graphics Processors
Apple Claims that its M1 SoC for ARM-Based Macs Uses the World's Fastest CPU Core
Your New Apple Computer Isn't Yours
Linus Torvalds Doubts Linux will Get Ported to Apple M1 Hardware
Initial Patches Posted for Bringing up Linux Kernel on Apple Silicon M1 Hardware
It was over the weekend that Corellium began posting their work of Linux booting on the Apple M1. It's now to the extent they can get Ubuntu's Raspberry Pi ARMv8 desktop image booting on Apple M1 hardware to a GUI albeit without any hardware acceleration. The Apple M1 graphics support will remain the big elephant in the room given the big challenges involved in bringing up an entirely new OpenGL/Vulkan driver stack and needing to carry out all of that reverse engineering first under macOS.
The open-source/Linux Apple M1 work continues to be quite busy this week... The latest is Alyssa Rosenzweig who has been working on reverse-engineering the M1 graphics processor has been able to write some early and primitive code for rendering a triangle.
Alyssa Rosenzweig of Panfrost fame has been working to reverse engineer the Apple M1 graphics as part of the Asahi Linux effort with developer Marcan.
This week the milestone was reached of drawing a triangle using the open-source code. It's an important first milestone but important to keep in mind that this isn't an initial driver triangle but rather hand-written vertex and fragment shaders with machine code for the M1 GPU. Those hand-written shaders are submitted to the hardware via the existing macOS IOKit kernel driver. If not clear enough, this was done on macOS and not the early Linux state as well.