Apple has released the Big Sur 11.2 – I’ve upgraded my iMac and MacBook Pro, and as noted earlier on today the issue regarding scrolling and video playback on YouTube has been fixed which means I can now go back to use the stable build of Safari rather than using the beta/technology build (although I do hope that Apple get their act sorted and make Safari 14.1 available since the scrolling is buttery smooth and a lot faster than Safari 14.0.3). The update also updated the firmware for both devices – most likely including the latest microcode update from Intel along with any optimisations to the kernel to help mitigate any performance penalties associated with the fix (in much the same way that Google created the Retpoline fix to deal with the Spectre variant 2 fix slow downs related to the microcode fix).

Speculation is building about Apple having a spring release of the next wave of refreshes which will bring Apple silicon to more devices. The technology blogs have picked up on an Apple patent regarding multi-level memory (link) which appears to be pointing to a future where Mac Pro’s for example will have super fast on SoC memory with the ability to expand it further via slots which won’t be as fast as SoC based memory but with enough wizardry in the background of swapping things around in the background, Pros will get the advantages of the new SoC with non of the downsides. I think the big question though is how Apple is going to deal with the GPU given that although so far it has performed great against other similar embedded SoC based GPUs, will they stick with discrete GPU’s as an option so that the system switches between the Apple GPU and the discrete GPU based on system demands? I guess in the coming months we’ll find out.

Next week I’m going to take a couple of days off from work (10th and 11th) since I had some lieu days earned. Normally I would cash them out and pocket the money but alas given what the economy has gone through, the business has had to tighten up – I was lucky that I was able to cash in a week of holidays before the email came out which put an end to that practice due to tough trading conditions. Regarding WWDC 2021, assuming that the vaccinations get off the ground and most of society gets back to normal then hopefully that’ll mean I’ll take a week off in June to geek out watching the various sessions regarding the enhancements to the next version of macOS. I think the interesting part will be the under the hood changes particularly around closing off access to the kernel by third parties as Apple replace the various frameworks in the kernel with a user space extension/driver model. It also makes me wonder wether that move is also an indication that Apple will start moving drivers out of the kernel so that, not that they’re aiming for some Mach purity, reducing the amount of code that needs to be running in the kernel kept to the bare minimum which will help reduce the surface attack area.

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