High Sierra is Apple’s new macOS, APFS finally arrives!

High Sierra

High Sierra

Apple made several announcements today at their Worldwide Developers Conference, including upgraded hardware and software, among which I find the new macOS High Sierra to be most interesting. 

  • APFS: macOS High Sierra provides an all-new file system Apple File System (APFS), which features enhanced performance, security and reliability of data and provides a foundation for future storage innovations.
    • Modern file system performance and features, reminiscent of Sun’s ZFS file system
    • Optimized for Flash/SSD storage, giving them even better performance
    • Higher performance, ultra fast copying of files in the Finder
    • Snapshots for duplicates and backups
    • High precision timestamps, for those that need them
    • Protect data from power outages or system crashes
    • Secures your files with native built-in encryption, offering a variety of security choices
    • This is a interesting offering because it indicates Apple’s willingness to adapt to modern times, HFS+  is over 30 years old and is still hanging in there but since Sun showed the world that a truly modern file system could be created, when they released ZFS, it made Apple’s HFS+ and everyone else’s file system to look antiquated. The performance, reliability and flexibility of a modern file system will help all of us, although its unlikely that many will ever realize it.
    •  The big question is: How will APFS work with Time Capsule? Will Time Capsules be updated for APFS? Will our HFS+ backups work with High Sierra?
  • Support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) also known as h.265
    • The official successor to h.274 (MPEG4), this new codec allows videos to offer the same quality but in a file that is up to 40% smaller than its equivalent h.264 file. This is a huge boon to users because video are the single largest files found on anyone’s system.
    • New Macs will offer support for h.265 HEVC in hardware, meaning that it can decode and playback videos in this format in real time, without using up the system’s resources. A small section of the built-in graphics processor on the CPUs will handle the decoding, saving the main part of the CPU to be available for the user’s needs. This also offers very low power consumption, allowing for very long viewing sessions without running out of battery power.
    • Previous Macs are supposed to also include h.265 HEVC support in High Sierra, but via software decoding, so they will experience higher CPU utilization. There is no word on which models can do this and just how much of a load it will put on the system but its great news that this ability will be available for everyone.
  • Metal 2, an update to Metal, Apple’s graphics technology powering graphics based technologies including augmented reality (AR) that Apple is now optimizing for.
  • Refinements to: Photos, Safari and Mail
    • Photos gets more powerful editing tools
    • Safari is the fastest web browser in he world (again)
    • Mail gets faster search and “Top Hits” that puts higher priority messages at the top

There were also numerous hardware announcements, with more powerful models across all of Apple’s hardware lineup. The new iMac Pro (due this December) features an 18 core xeon processor that makes it the most powerful Mac ever, with the built-in 5k display that has also been significantly improved, four Thunderbolt and a 10gbps Ethernet port, this is a model sure to appeal to creative professionals as well as fuel the vitriol speed forth by haters, for its $5,000 price tag, even though Apple was quick to point that in toady’s market, a Windows equivalent would cost $7,000.

The MacBook Pro finally cracked the 3 GHz barrier, with the top model offering a 3.1 GHz model at its starting point. If you think back to 2005 when Intel convinced Steve Jobs that the IBM/Motorola PowerPC chip was not going to ever break the 3 GHz barrier, whereas the Intel CPUs were about to demolish the 3 GHz barrier momentarily, you’ll realize that Apple was already pushing towards a mobile lineup and was hoping to break 3 GHz in its MacBook G4 lineup.

It took Intel 12 years to actually deliver a 3 GHz mobile CPU, functionally breaking the promise they made to Apple to deliver 3 GHz CPU parts. In today’s announcement we can see that the top MacBook Pro model can be optionally ordered with a 3.5 GHz quad core CPU (with a 4.0 single core turbo speed to 4.0 GHz). Its unclear if Intel’s new turbo architecture, which enables turbo speed on two cores, instead of only one core, will be enabled, but it sure is very welcome if it does ship in these models.

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