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TBDR captures the entire scene before it starts to render it, splitting it up into multiple small regions, or tiles, that get processed separately, so it processes information pretty fast and doesn’t require a lot of memory bandwidth. From there, the architecture won’t actually render the scene until it rejects any and all occluded pixels.
On the other hand, IMR does things the opposite way, rendering the entire scene before it decides what pixels need to be thrown out. As you probably guessed, this method is inefficient, yet it’s how modern discrete GPUs operate, and they need a lot of bandwidth to do so.
For Apple Silicon ARM architecture, TBDR is a much better match because its focus is on speed and lower power consumption—not to mention the GPU is on the same chip as the CPU, hence the term SoC. This is probably why Apple wrote, “Don’t assume a discrete GPU means better performance,” in its developer support document. It’s all that dang bandwidth it doesn’t need.
It could also be a reason why that the Shadow of the Tomb Raider demo (running on Rosetta 2) Apple showed off during its keynote looked so good. I’m no game designer, but if Apple if helping developers port their games to not only its ARM architecture, but its GPU architecture, it just might grow some more teeth in the gaming sphere. And if that happens, Macs might actually become competitive gaming machines once you start to compare benchmarks.
I’d still be highly skeptical of the cost of Apple’s future machines, though, especially since you can currently build or buy a PC with better specs for much less than a Mac. There’s also something to be said about the DIY culture baked into the Windows-based PC market. Apple has generally made its customers rely totally on the company to fix hardware-related issued or upgrade, and if it wants to attract more developers to code their games for its hardware and macOS, understanding the PC gaming culture would go a long way. For some, it might not matter if Apple’s GPUs are technically better.
Like Intel, AMD will stick it out with Apple for as long as it can, until Apple is positive it can survive without any third-party hardware components. Then the walled garden will be fully grown.
We reached out to Apple for comment on its future AMD GPU plans, but have yet to receive a response. We will update if/whe
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