I blogged about checks for two unused processor models when Sierra DP-4 was released and there are still a couple of unused bits – in High Sierra as well – that Apple could use for two Coffee Lake processors and the new Mac Pro. Here’s the data:
bit-10 (0x0400) possibly reserved for Coffee Lake Mobile
bit-11 (0x0800) possibly reserved for Coffee Lake DT
bit-15 (0x8000) possibly reserved for Scalable Xeon
Currently there is no processor model check that selects 0x400, 0x800 or 0x8000 in _xcpm_bootstrap, but they are checked in two other routines. Being _xcpm_init_complete and _xcpm_monitor_init. The bits corresponding to 0x400, 0x800 and 0x8000 are also set in most of the programmed MSR’s (Model Specific Registers).
We know what Apple did in the past for Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, and this combined with the two new Coffee Lake CPUID’s, that makes it the third piece of evidence pointing to refreshed hardware.
Please note that Apple may choose to update certain Mac models, silently. Like they do more often. Or at a later date, but I don’t believe that Apple will skip Coffee Lake processors altogether. To me it’s the most obvious processor for the next MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini.
That leaves us with bit-15 (0x8000). This value can also only be used for an Intel processor with a CPUID that isn’t already supported by the XNU kernel. And since there is only one bit reserved, this could mean that it won’t be used for a combination of desktop and mobile processors. Like Skylake, Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake processors.
It is also highly unlikely that it will be used for another processor in the Xeon W serie. Leaving one processor serie that isn’t used yet. And in case you didn’t know this already. I found references to the Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors in the leaked firmware for the iMac Pro. This processor serie uses the FCLGA3647 socket, and could be used in the new Mac Pro. That is. If Intel isn’t releasing yet another new Xeon processor serie. Anyway. For now. Two possible candidates for the new Mac Pro are:
– dual Intel® Xeon® Gold 6144 Processor (3.5GHz/4.2GHz Max Turbo, with 16 cores and 32 threads.
– dual Intel® Xeon® Gold 6146 Processor (3.2GHz/4.5GHz Max Turbo) with 24 cores and 48 threads.
Note that I used these two, specifically, because of its high base frequency and maximum turbo frequency. Next to that. There is still a thread limit. Even in High Sierra, so either that has to change – which is pretty easy for Apple to fix – or the next Mac Pro won’t support more than 24 cores (and 48 threads).
The only problem that I see right now is that the processors cost an arm and a leg, and that would limit it to a much smaller group. The so called ‘pro-users’. Or people with deep pockets. For the rest of us. Ordinary people. It’s just too expensive.
But hold on. The iMac Pro might be too expensive for some of us, but it will also be good enough for the majority of pro users, and that is probably also the main reason why we are still waiting for a new Mac Pro. I think that Apple isn’t buying the complaints of the small pro-user group.
Historically we had two possible desktop Macs that could fit the need for pro-users:
1.) Mac mini
2.) Mac Pro
But that could change to this:
1.) Mac mini
2.) iMac Pro
2.) Mac Pro
But without a new Mac mini and Mac Pro update, we’re pretty much toast…
What do you think?