Apple Silicon Mac documentation suggests third-party GPU support in danger

Some Apple support documents seem to suggest that switching from Mac to Apple Silicon will remove support for non-Apple GPUs.

Tech giant Cupertino announced the transition to Apple Silicon for the first time in his WWDC opening speech on June 22. Since then, more details have surfaced on what exactly the change would entail.

For example, during a WWDC 2020 developer session devoted to porting Metal applications to the new architecture, Apple made it clear that its Apple Silicon Macs will sport custom Apple GPUs.

“Apple Silicon Mac contains an Apple-designed GPU, while Intel-based Macs contain Intel, AMD and NVIDIA GPUs,” said Gokhan Avkarogullari, director of Apple GPU software.

Credit: Apple

While Apple hasn’t exactly explained what this compatibility means, it seems to suggest that an ARM version of macOS might also remove support for Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD graphics chips. It’s also unclear what this means for eGPU support, although it may depend more on Thunderbolt 3 and driver compatibility.

As part of the move to Apple GPUs in its Mac hardware, the company is also giving developers more advice on what’s to come. In a developer support document, the company advises not to underestimate an integrated Apple GPU.

“Don’t assume that a discrete GPU means better performance,” wrote Apple. “The GPU built into Apple processors is optimized for high-performance graphics tasks.”

It’s unclear what the statement means, other than a high-performance Apple-designed integrated GPU will be included in the delivery of Apple Silicon Macs. Nothing in the support documentation indicates that Apple will stop supporting AMD GPUs for Intel Macs in future versions of macOS, but the above statement may also suggest that there may still be a way for support for third-party PCI-E GPUs in the future.

“Always call before executing instructions from your ths. Instruction caches are not consistent with data caches on Apple Silicon, and unexpected results may occur if you execute instructions without invalidating the caches” , a JIT document s.

Apple has taken other steps to ensure a smooth transition for developers. It made available a transition kit for application developers to get their hands on Apple Silicon before a consumer version, and implemented new virtualization and emulation software to ensure that Mac ARMs can run Intel-based applications.

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