Apple Says Throttling Issue Is A Software Bug

Apple has looked into claims by a YouTube blogger that the company’s newest MacBook Pro doesn’t deliver on promised performance and is slower than the previous model. In their research, they substantiated the claims and discovered a software bug was the issue.

Apple took the blogger, Dave Lee, seriously and investigated the issue, which I reported on earlier this week. They found the issue was not a design fault with the cooling system, a conclusion many people jumped to, but a “missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system” according to a statement released to media outlets.

Lee’s testing found that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor couldn’t hold its base 2.9GHz clock speed while rendering a five-and-a-half minute 5K video in Adobe Premiere Pro – something the previous Core i7 model could do faster.

Apple has released a supplemental update to mac OS High Sierra 10.13.6 that addresses this specific issue. It doesn’t just affect the the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro Intel Core i9 model tested by Lee but also quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 configurations, with the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar also hit by impaired performance.

How Does this Happen?

This entire episode is symptomatic of a bigger issue in my opinion. I find it hard to believe that no-one at Apple thought to test production units of their new computer, equipped with one of the fastest processors ever produced for consumers to ensure that it performed better than the previous model.

The good news is that because so many things are now under software control they can be fixed with relative ease. Of course, that puts the onus on fixing it back on the people that bought a computer that costs more than $4,000 that doesn’t perform as specified. In order to get what you paid for, you need to download and install a software update. That will cost you some work time from your day.

One Last Thing

A couple of commenters on the story I published on Monday suggested I ought not report on what was, at that time, an unconfirmed claim. I think it’s important to report on such matters as, if they are substantiated, put the pressure on vendors to fix things promptly. While the speculation about the cause of the issue was incorrect the fact the new computers didn’t work as promised was corroborated by Apple.

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