Just to be clear – neither does Apple. Of course.
All you ever wanted to know about Apple’s flagship device, and more.
There was another problem Apple faced in making the rMBP a reality: the display pipeline of the GPUs Apple wanted to use didn’t officially support scaling to the resolution Apple demanded of them. Let me explain.
All modern GPUs have fixed function scaling hardware that is used to efficiently scale between resolutions. A scaler either in your GPU or in your display panel is what lets you run non-native resolutions at full screen on your LCD (e.g. running 1680 x 1050 on a 1920 x 1080 panel). None of the GPUs used in the Retina Display MacBook Pro officially support fixed-function scaling of anything to 2880 x 1800 however. Modern day GPUs are tested against 2560 x 1440 and 2560 x 1600, but not this particular 5MP resolution. Even 4K resolution support isn’t widespread among what’s available today. Rather than wait for updated hardware and/or validation, Apple took matters into its own hands and built its own GPU accelerated scaling routines. Fixed function hardware is almost always more efficient from a performance and power standpoint, which is why there’s some additional performance loss in these scaled resolution modes.
What’s even crazier is Apple wasn’t pleased with the difference in baseline filtering quality between the Intel HD 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPUs. As the Retina Display MacBook Pro would have to regularly switch between GPUs, Apple wanted to ensure a consistently good experience regardless of which GPU was active. There are a lot of filtering operations at work when doing all of this resolution scaling, so rather than compromise user experience Apple simply wrote its own default filtering routines. Apple’s obsessive attention to detail really made it possible to pull all of this off. It’s just insane to think about.
Read the whole review at the link above. It’s great – so much information on this marvel of modern engineering.
CNet’s Brooke Crothers has a masterpiece of stupid up on CNet:
Except it doesn’t. Let’s deconstruct:
Dilution of Jobs Doctrine? The design decisions that led to a chunkier iPad are a little worrisome and break — in my opinion — one of Steve Jobs’ cardinal rules: devices should get thinner and lighter, not bigger and heavier…
Unless the guy Steve Jobs gave massive power to at Apple, Jony Ive, has ok’d this slight increase in “thickness”. Couldn’t be, right?
Thinner, and lighter will only get you so far. I’d actually argue that there’s a point when this “doctrine” (where’s that written down?) is useless, because it will make the device uncomfortable to hold. I’m not saying the iPad 2 was at that point, but the argument of always thinner and lighter has limits.
Chip slip As brilliant as Apple is, it’s not primarily a chip company. That means it can make mistakes with silicon design. Neither Texas Instruments nor Intel is above reproach (and they’ve made their share of mistakes), why not Apple? Case in point, the A5X.
Brooke goes on to quote Anandtech’s review of the new iPad, conveniantely leaving out Apple’s claim that the A5X has double the graphics power, which Anandtech also notes.
Meanwhile, in the real world, we’re happily using our new iPad’s with apps to get actual work done.
Battery Big battery. Too big? When the battery grows almost twofold but doesn’t offer better battery life, something is amiss. OK, so it’s necessary to drive the sophisticated display apparatus but, again, another red flag.
Really? How about the 4-fold increase in pixels and the doubling of LED’s? The LTE radios? Nope. Apple is expected to deliver unicorns.
I’ll offer the disclaimer that the display could turn out to be so dazzling — as more applications tap in to all of those pixels — that the above bullet points are rendered immaterial. And, of course, the A5X chip may become more of a factor in those cases, too.
OMG! I laughed so hard when I read his “get out of jail free” disclaimer.
So Brooke is basically saying the iPad sucks, but it may turn out that it actually doesn’t, and all his link-baiting arguments are crap. Ok.