T2 chip taking over security tasks on the iMac Pro

iMac Pro is equipped with Apple’s T2 chip to increase macOS security

When the iMac Pro it was still just a promise and no one had actually laid hands on it, rumors emerged that it would have an A10 Fusion processor (created by Apple and present on the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus) in addition to an Intel chip. Such a processor would be responsible for handling macOS boot and security. Now that the iMac Pro has been announced and tested by a few handpicked by Apple, more information has emerged.

In fact, the busiest desktop ever created by Apple is equipped with a T2 chip – a generation above the chip present in MacBooks Pro with Touch Bar, the T1. However, while on the notebook the processor is responsible for running a simplified version of watchOS (touch sensitive bar system) and for storing Touch ID information in the Secure Enclave, on the iMac Pro he definitely took on more security responsibilities.

The details were shared by Cabel Sasser, co-founder of developer Panic (creator of the apps Coda and Transmit), who was – unexpectedly – one of the lucky ones to test the machine.

1 – Design. This is obvious, but the space gray hardware is super beautiful. (The finish of the Magic Mouse even resembles the back of the iPhone X – it’s really hard to show in photos, it’s so shiny, but maybe you can see it).

In addition to extolling the design of hardware and accessories in space gray, speed (both for performing professional tasks and for playing), Sasser was the one who confirmed the presence of the T2 chip and that he is responsible for integrating components such as SMC, ISP FaceTime HD camera, audio control, SSD control, Secure Enclave and a hardware encryption mechanism.

2 – Speed. We tried to compile one of our main Xcode projects on the iMac Pro (10-core Xeon W, 3GHz) and our standard Mac Pro (6-core Xeon E5, 3.5GHz). Sure, the Mac Pro is old, but the iMac Pro compiled the project 41% faster. A very sincere leap.

3 – Games. We ran Firewatch to test the iMac Pro (Radeon Pro Vega 64) against my current iMac 5K Retina (Radeon R9 M295X). At 2560 × 1440 pixels, the iMac was at 25FPS, the iMac Pro at 62FPS!

In practice, the new chip makes storage encryption keys pass Secure Enclave to the hardware encryption mechanism on the chip, making the key never leave the chip. In addition, T2 allows hardware verification of the operating system, the kernel, boot, firmware, etc.

T2 chip taking over security tasks on the iMac Pro

To take advantage of the T2 chip, the macOS High Sierra on the iMac Pro includes a new option called “Startup Security Utility” (something like “Safe Boot Utility”). In it, users can even activate a firmware password to prevent a computer from being started from a different hard drive or CD / DVD without the password.

The system also gained new “Safe Boot” options (total, medium or none). When “Total Security” is enabled, the system ensures that only the latest and most secure software can be run, requiring a network connection during software installation. There is also the option “External Boot”, in which we can disable or not the possibility of boot from USB or Thunderbolt devices.

Strangely, nothing yet about the possibility of this processor enabling the “Hey there, Siri” feature that had been commented – something that everyone took for granted, since references to this were found in the system. In a nutshell, almost everything that was speculated about an Apple chip inside the iMac Pro is true – they just got it wrong: instead of the A10 Fusion, we have the T2.

via AppleInsider