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Merom in MacBook and MacBook Pros in September? 323

Kevin C. Tofel writes "If you want to see where the computer industry is going, you often have to watch the computer component manufacturers, and that's just what DigiTimes did. AsusTek and Quanta both produce Apple notebooks and sources appear to have just revealed that September is the month for 64-bit Merom CPUs in the MacBook and MacBook Pro line."
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Merom in MacBook and MacBook Pros in September?

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  • by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:30PM (#15890542)
    I must be particularly dense. I have had an AMD 64 bit desktop computer for 2 years now and I have yet to take advantage of the 64 bit features. 64-bit Windows wants fancy new drivers (none of which exist, of course) and even MS software (E.g. producer) doesn't work on it.

    So I got a Macbook pro in ... June? Will I miss out big time on 64 bit computing?
    • by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke AT foolishgames DOT com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:46PM (#15890652) Homepage Journal
      No, apple didn't do much with PowerMac G5 systems either. Users got 64 bit memory addressing. That's about it. Unless adobe requires it for some reason when they finally release photoshop and their other products native, I wouldn't worry too much. It willl be a few years before its an issue.
    • The biggest reason for the average consumer is that you move beyond the RAM ceiling of 4GB. Not that it probably matters on a laptop (yet), but I think that's the reason most people notice/care about.
      • But since when has the "average consumer" needed more than 4GB of RAM, let alone 1GB or 2GB's?
        • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:01PM (#15890758) Homepage
          Right, because nobody's ever been bitten in the ass by that kind of thinking before.
        • by PayPaI ( 733999 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:02PM (#15890761) Journal
          When Vista comes out?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          But since when has the "average consumer" needed more than 4GB of RAM, let alone 1GB or 2GB's?

          With an Intel Mac it's possible-- in fact, it's commonplace-- for the "average consumer" to be running Parallels and Rosetta at the same time. That's Windows XP plus OSX 10.4.7 plus an emulated PowerPC G4 processor. Suddenly 2 GB doesn't sound like all that much...
        • When you are using Photoshop or the Gimp for a high resulution image (Those you know that you don't see the pixels when printed on a full page) Or even worse doing multible layers of those images.
          while screen resulution is roughly 72 ppi A good Printed High Res Printed image is around 600 ppi so for a standard 8*10 at 32bit color depth is about 115MB, and say you have 30 Layers you are using over 3 Gigabytes. Or just having a bunch of heavy apps running at the same time, like virtualization with VMware, wi
          • I have a buddy who runs a lot of photoshop and 3D rendering apps and he goes through the 4GB of ram in his Mac (G5, I think) pretty quick. It's kind of funny to see him get angry about it when he reaches the plateu and his computer starts squirming under the bit of pressure. Currently, he's drooling over the Mac Pro's just for the speed. I'm sure he's waiting for 64 bit support just for RAM support alone, but won't be able to afford it for some time to come.
        • But since when has the "average consumer" needed more than 4GB of RAM, let alone 1GB or 2GB's?

          1GB is pretty standard on systems these days. High end systems reguarly have 2GB. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that systems three years from now will be bumping up against the 3-4GB barrier. Especially as HD everything takes ahold, thus requiring insane amounts of memory to handle the latest multimedia files.

          For examples of this, look no further than the new generation of game consoles. Developers are alre

          • Sure, but it's not a critical problem for the average consumer right now. In three years, yup, we're all going to want more than 4GB of RAM.

            For Merom in September though, it's the speed and power consumption, not the 64-bitness. Before you really, really need 64-bit you'll probably be buying a new computer anyway.
            • Sure, but it's not a critical problem for the average consumer right now.
              Perfectly correct. However, these things need to be ready ahead of time, or we'll have a mad scramble on our hands when the memory limitations become a problem. Hell, Microsoft *still* hasn't gotten the kinks out of Windows 64bit yet. If they don't hurry, they're going to be in a serious world of hurt when the public makes the changeover.
        • The average consumer currently needs 512MB RAM. NEEDS. 256MB is no longer enough. It takes longer to boot than it does to write a letter. The power user needs 1GB minimum. 4GB will seem stifling very soon. Here's a true story for you: I upgraded from 512MB to 1GB RAM on my Athlon XP 2500+ system with a two-drive RAID0 (80GB, 7200RPM, x2) and cut my boot time literally in half.
          • Boot time? Right... that's the thing that I do every month or so because there's a patch that requires rebooting.

            Boot time isn't such a big deal (unless you're running Windows 98). The 2GB in my MBP is really nice for Aperture though.
            • Boot time isn't such a big deal (unless you're running Windows 98).

              We're talking about Windows XP in this case. A lot of your basic software installs and such require a reboot. I used it as an example, because it's an easy metric to work with and the disk cache is not yet filled when you boot.

              But of course, you're an iFanboy, so you just wanted an excuse to talk about your MBP.

              I'm personally sitting at a compaq nw9440, which has pretty much all the same trimmings. It's missing a couple of doodads

              • Mac vs Windows (Score:3, Informative)

                by falconwolf ( 725481 )

                I'm personally sitting at a compaq nw9440, which has pretty much all the same trimmings.

                I'm typing this on an HP Pavilion and when I replace it I'll replace it with a MBP. I am sick and tired of all the hassles I've had with pcs and windows. I have Norton System Works installed on it and it's supposed to give notice when something is wrong and yet it never does yet my computer frequently freezes and I have to reboot. And for a while now my mouse hasn't worked properly, the pointer constantly stops mov

        • by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT net> on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:48PM (#15891058)

          Uh i'd say that 1Gb of RAM is pretty much a baseline requirement nowadays if you're either running XP SP2 or OSX Tiger, with 2Gb the "sweet spot".

      • You can get more thanm 4 gb of memory with PAE now. The advantage is that it allows you to do that in one process's address space.
      • Actually with Intel Processors (Since the Pentium Pro) and possibly AMD 32 processors, there are at least 4 extra address lines for the ram. This gives the option of up to 64GB of RAM. In Intel naming this is known as the PAE. In other words... We've been past the 4GB limit since the Pentium Pro.
      • Are there any other improvements in 64 bit CPUs other than the larger memory ceiling? Or is that it? Will power users get any other benefits from the CPU upgrade?
        • Are there any other improvements in 64 bit CPUs other than the larger memory ceiling?

          In the case of 64-bit x86 CPUs, there are 8 more registers for the compiler to use. (That's not true of any other 32->64 architectural changes I know of; those were either RISC architectures that already had 31 or 32 registers, or System/3x0 which already had 16 registers.)

    • by richdun ( 672214 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:50PM (#15890690)
      Maybe. OS X 10.4 (Tiger) was the first version of OS X to support 64-bit, and some apps use it, but the Intel switch happened too soon for many to start using it (since the first Intel processors were only 32-bit, leaving the iMac G5 and PowerMac G5 the only 64-bit capable Macs before the Mac Pro). Leopard (OS X 10.5) will definitely use more 64-bit stuff, as the new Cocoa/Carbon libraries will be in 64-bit with native 64 and 32-bit support. At a minimum, I'd expect Apple to convert a lot of the pro and iLife apps to 64-bit, as they tend to use their own technologies pretty quickly (for obvious reasons).

      So for Windows, 64-bit may not be a big deal, but for OS X, there should be more support very soon.
    • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:53PM (#15890702) Journal
      You make a valid point that 64-bit computing isn't very useful if the software can't take advantage of it. Sure, you can get larger memory addressing, but there aren't that many machines where 32-bit's 2GB limit has come into play.

      The difference here is that Apple has been producing 64-bit software for a while. After all, the G5 processor is 64-bit, and that's been in Apple's line since summer '03. Leopard, when it comes out next year, will supposedly do a particularly good job of allowing 32- and 64-bit applications to coexist and execute at the best levels possible. I recall hearing that Apple has been reworking it's software suites to take better advantage fo 64-bit computing (rather than just recompiling to work as 32-bit applications on a 64-bit machine). So, whereas your AMD machine has barely begun to take advantage of 64-bit capabilities, the Merom-based Apple's will do so from day one.

      I don't think you'll 'miss out,' because the improvement may not be apparent for some time.
      • Also, due to Apples applicaiton structure (e.g. Universal Binaries), it is a lot easier to distribute one program that will run optimally on many different processors. Some apps have come with both G4 and G5 optimized binaries for some time. As far as I know, Microsoft has no such mechanism for distributing binaries like that.

        • Also, due to Apples applicaiton structure (e.g. Universal Binaries), it is a lot easier to distribute one program that will run optimally on many different processors. Some apps have come with both G4 and G5 optimized binaries for some time. As far as I know, Microsoft has no such mechanism for distributing binaries like that.

          They don't need a mechanism. You could use a 32 bit stub that launches either the 32 bit or 64 bit program depending on which your system was. Apple just makes it easier.

        • Many application's on Windows use differing code paths depending on the processor they are running on. In general it's all x86 so the difference comes in with using instruction sets such as MMX, SSE, SSE2 etc. So if you are doing encoding and have a Pentium 4 it will use optimized code and you get better FPU performance. This is the same as a program being optimized for using a G4 vs a G3 on a Mac.
          The Universal Binary is not used for this. It is used to compile an application with seperate code bases for to
      • by eturro ( 804858 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:56PM (#15891115)
        Sure, you can get larger memory addressing, but there aren't that many machines where 32-bit's 2GB limit has come into play.
        2^32 bits = 4GB, not 2GB.
        • by barole ( 35839 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:57PM (#15891537)
          But under standard 32-bit XP, each process gets only a 2GB address space. That is much more of a limitation than 4GB total RAM for many applications, especially since graphics drivers, etc may eat into that 2GB.

          Also, if you use an app that needs large contiguous chunks of memory, you may run into a situation where you have say 600MB of address space left, but no one chunk is larger than 200MB. Then if your app needs a 250MB chunk of memory, it will fail even though there is 600MB left.

          Going to a 64-bit address space solves these issues.

    • by drix ( 4602 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:24PM (#15890893) Homepage
      It's very useful for scientific research. I constantly run into the 4gb limitation when I run Stata [], since it needs a contiguous chunk of memory, and the largest one of those you're going to find is about 1.5gb. Also if you're doing photo or video editing, obviously, the more RAM the better period.

      For the average user I think it's pretty worthless right now. RAM requirements will creep ever northward, as do all hardware requirements, but by the time you find yourself needing (or even owning) 4gb of RAM this 64-bit thing will be old-hat.
    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:29PM (#15890925)
      OS X Leopard will be fully 64-bit, and unlike Windows Vista, will seamlessly support 32-bit device drivers and applications, so going full 64-bit will be as simple as buying a 64-bit Mac.

      That said, your implication is correct that 64-bit really isn't as big a deal as it was hyped to be by the likes of AMD (who teamed with CryTek to put out that awful 64-bit version of Far Cry with the higher-resolution textures to trick gamers into thinking having a 64-bit address space had something to do with that and not their GPU). XCode 2.4 supports four-architecture Universal Binaries anyway, so you'll have 32-bit/64-bit PPC/Intel applications. You shouldn't worry about missing out on anything

      Besides, getting a Core 2 Duo system now would be silly when you can wait until first quarter of 2007 when Intel's Santa Rosa chipset comes out, replacing the Napa chipset used by the Core Duo. It'll have an 800Mhz bus speed upgrade that will really let the Core 2 take advantage of its power as well as ship with a new WLAN 802.11n chipset.

      I have an Intel iMac and an Intel MacBook, but I'm quite happy and waiting for next year's Macs before even thinking of heading to eBay. There's always something better around the corner, especially with Apple.
      • If I had mod points handy, I would have modded you up. I totally agree. I have a Macbook Pro and I can't really imagine the lack of a 64-bit Core2 CPU being a big impediment to its usefulness.

        For starters, you can't put more than 2GB of RAM, total, in one of these right now due to motherboard design limitations - so people talking about 64-bit CPUs allowing better use of large chunks of memory seems like a non-issue for this particular machine.

        Even if I was all concerned about making "full use" of OS X Le
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:04PM (#15891172) Homepage Journal
      There is a big difference between 64 bit on the X86 and 64-bit on the PPC.
      To start off with the X86 architecture really does suck. It is register starved and the instruction set is miserable. It is a pig but because Intel and AMD have such a huge potential market they have thrown enough time , talent, and money to make it a very fast and cheap pig.
      The PPC didn't gain a whole lot from going to 64 bit. If a program didn't need to do 64 bit math or a 64 bit address space then it would run as fast of faster as a 32 program. BTW this is a good thing. It means that the PPC was broken to start with and didn't force programs to use 64 bit pointers if they didn't need to.
      When AMD created the Athlon 64 it fixed one of the X86s worst problems. AMD doubled the number of registers. Even if a program doesn't do 64 bit math or doesn't need more than four gigabytes of memory that will run 30% to 60% faster when compiled for 64 bit than 32 bit.
      • SGI did something similar when they brought out 64-bit MIPS chips and a 64-bit version of IRIX. They also doubled the number of registers. However, they permitted enabling those registers in 32-bit mode as well. Thus you could compile to old-32 ABI, or new-32 ABI (with 2x as many registers) or 64-bit ABI. So, most apps would be compiled for the new-32 bit ABI since few needed 64-bits but most could benefit from more registers. It's too bad AMD didn't do the same thing.
  • by hlimethe3rd ( 879459 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:35PM (#15890577)
    Digitimes is not a good site for this kind of thing. Historically, they've been very poor with these kinds of predictions. I'm not going to find any examples right now, but searching the archives of or some similar site will turn out many.
  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:38PM (#15890592) Homepage Journal
    All this talk about 64 bits...on wires, for god's sake!! In my day we had to push the eletrons around by hand.
    And it was uphill... both ways.
    And when it snowed, the gates froze up and we had to execute the same instruction over and over until spring thaw.
    64 bits?? You youngsters have it easy!!!
  • News? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:40PM (#15890600) Journal
    The features of the Merom processors (multicore, 64-bit, aimed at mobile processing), and Apple made the Intel switch largely due to Intel's processor roadmap and what was coming down the pipeline. Based on Apple's past desire to gobble up the latest processors as soon as they are available, I'd say it was a foregone conclusion that the Merom would show up in the MacBooks as soon as they came off the fab line. So I ask: is this news?
  • yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spykemail ( 983593 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:40PM (#15890608) Homepage
    Assuming Apple takes this opportunity to eliminate hardware defects I'm officially declaring Spring 2007 "but a new labtop" season. With Merom, Leopard, Bootcamp, and no more serious hardware problems the MacBooks will be posed to slurp up more market share in the US, if not everywhere.
  • by wwiiol_toofless ( 991717 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:43PM (#15890624)
    Core 2, 4x4, SLI, physics cards...

    64 bit processing, let alone dual-core tech has yet to be fully applied in the mainstream. People salivate and argue over the latest and greatest and when to buy what to stay "future-proof" in terms of hardware.

    I'm still waiting for a viable 64-bit OS fer cryin' out loud, and don't get me started on SLI...

    I am going to purchase a single-core AMD 64 San Diego core for $139 bucks and I'm going to be just fine for the next 2 years minimum. I keep my gaming system in tip-top shape, so I don't need an extra CPU core to process all the spyware running in the background.
    • Viable 64-bit OS? Troll much?

      My Gentoo box has been working fine for the last several months [it's a new box] and my previous AMDX2 before that ran fine and my Intel 820 ran fine and ...

      Oh you mean, a Redmond based OS... well TFB.

      • ... but Windows XP Pro x64 happens to work pretty damn well. All my hardware is supported by signed drivers, including gaming devices. And yea, I make use of the 64 bit capabilities (as a developer). I do dual-boot Linux as needed.

        The FUD about drivers not being there is for ancient crap like winmodems - stuff that deserves to die a long, painful death.
  • I'm hoping it will be worth the wait to get the Macbook if it also comes with Intel's 965 GPU.
  • TRFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:43PM (#15890634)
    The Real Fabulous Article [], instead of the submitters lame-ass ad page.
  • I'm curious... in the articles I have read about Core Duo and Core 2 Duo (Yonah and Merom, at least on the notebook end of things), I never saw anyone mention 64-bit support as some amazing new feature. I heard a few mentions of it in the early stages of speculation, but now that it's the eve of the release, nobody's making a fuss about it. Usually, when a new 64-bit processor is coming out, it's a big deal. So is Merom actually 64-bit, or did that part get scrapped, or what?

    I'd like 64-bit, since x86_6

    • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) * on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:10PM (#15890804)
      It's not 100% native 64-bit like the AMD64 is, but it's closer than the existing EM64T CPUs. From what I've read, the Core 2 is actually a bit slower when in 64-bit mode than when in 32-bit mode (but much less so than the Pentium 4-based CPUs, which were MUCH slower in 64-bit mode).

      The Core 1 CPUs were basically Pentium IIIs with extra instructions and much-revamped layout and FSB. The 64-bit Pentium 4s were regular Pentium 4s with the ability to break down 64-bit instructions into chunks that the lowest-level of the CPU could work with. The Core 2 is still the venerable i686 from the good 'ole days, but they've done some rather dramatic changes (much more than from PIII -> Core 1), including execution units that can chew 64-bit instructions in the raw. The other huge advantage of Core 2 is that Intel FINALLY fixed SSE. Until now, SSE always used at least two clocks to get 128-bit work done, and usually many more. Now SSE has been fixed to be a lot more like the Altivec unit on the G4, it works like a _real_ vector coprocessor and can chew on 128-bit instructions in one clock.

      Overall, my impression is that the implementation isn't as 'clean' as the AMD64, but Intel invested in all the right places, and the overall product is obviously a winner. Sometimes doing the 'wrong thing' really well is better than doing the 'right thing' three years ago and sitting on it. When AMD fixes their SIMD implementation, I'll go back to championing the Athlon; until then, the Core 2 is the best bang, for your buck or otherwise.
    • Yonah ("Core") is not 64-bit. Merom (Core 2) is 64-bit, but there are no Macs out with Merom yet. The Mac Pro is the first Intel mac with a 64-bit CPU. (Unless you count the Developer Preview boxes which had P4's with EM64T.)
    • ...nobody's making a fuss about it. Usually, when a new 64-bit processor is coming out, it's a big deal. So is Merom actually 64-bit, or did that part get scrapped, or what?

      Merom is 64-bit. No one is making a big deal out of it because for most people, it isn't a big deal. Sure if you need to address more than 4 gig of RAM with a single thread for video processing or something, this means you don't need a hack, but really while OS X is moving to full 64-bit support no one cares that much.

  • Doh! I just bought a MacBook this week from CompUsa. I spoke to them I can return it for a CompUsa GiftCard for my purchase price. I'll wait til next month and repurchase a 64-bit.
  • iMac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Balthisar ( 649688 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:49PM (#15890685) Homepage
    I'd like to see this in an iMac. Yeah, I know -- "consumer model." How about a more expensive iMac Pro?

    I've had a 17" Intel iMac for just over a month now -- it was bought to replace my homemade Windows PC. I also have plans to replace my "main" QuickSilver with a 20" iMac as soon as I have cash-in-hand, but I may wait things out. I'm usually against the all-in-one solutions, but this iMac really has impressed the hell out of me with its elegance and simplicity. That's no laughing matter, either. My Quicksilver is a bundle of wires -- keyboard, mouse, USB hub, the round thing that gives me audio-in-over-USB (pre-"digital audio" PowerMac), monitor cable, power to the Mac, power to the monitor, speaker wires, power to the speakers. Sheesh. I do like the expandability of my PowerMac, but all I ever really install are hard drives. I don't even do that anymore, because I've set up a homemade Myth box dual purposed as a NAT with 600GB of RAID1 storage so I can work on any computer in the house.

    So, yeah, I do want a Pro machine's power, and am willing to pay for a Pro machine's power, but I really want the all-in-one-ness of the flat panel iMac.
    • Re:iMac (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phalse phace ( 454635 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:59PM (#15890746)
      It wouldn't be a big surprise to see the Merom in the iMacs since the Mac Pros have Dual-Dual Core Xeon processors in them. If Apple puts a Merom in a iMac, there'd still be a significant difference between it and the Mac Pro.
    • I'd like to see this in an iMac. Yeah, I know -- "consumer model." How about a more expensive iMac Pro?

      If macbooks and macbook pros switch to Merom, so will iMacs and Mac Minis, no need for any iMac Pro foolishness.

      Intel's Core (Solo and Duo) weren't fated to live long, the goal was to get the new line started, show that intel had scrapped Netburst and make people eager to see Core 2's improvements

  • Right now the thing stopping me from buying a MacBook is its weak 3d graphics abilities. Putting an awesome new CPU in it might almost overcome that, dunno.

    Or maybe this is the way Apple wants it. I guess there's supposed to be some reason to go with the Pro model.
  • The power in the average desktop PC is starting to rise, rendering them less effective as a "switch" option....

  • As it stands, there is very little difference between the MacBook and MacBook Pro so I believe that Apple will try to further differentiate the product lines by using the Core Duo in the MacBook and the Core 2 Duo in the MacBook Pro. A MacBook Pro with a 64 bit CPU, a larger display and a proper GPU would justify the higher price and be more appealing to those doing graphic and/or video work. For the average consumer who spends most of their time browsing the web, reading/writing email and running productiv

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.