Apple chips are on the table

Apple’s transition to its own processors is almost complete. The company’s recent spring event saw the launch of Mac Studio and M1 Ultra processor – its most powerful piece of silicon. But it also reveals what the future of Apple computers will look like.

For the first time, all of Apple’s chips are on the table.

The first important takeaway is that Apple is now a force to be reckoned with when it comes to chips (if not already). The reception was overwhelmingly positive for the first wave of M1 computers, along with its similar success M1 Pro and M1 Max support MacBook Pro last year’s laptop, establishment of company rights. But the M1 Ultra has seen Apple hit its biggest break yet, with what it boasts is “the world’s most powerful chip for personal computers”.

These chips became the selling point for computers. Buying a Mac isn’t just about getting Apple’s software or design aesthetic – it’s about getting performance and battery life that no one else offers.

Apple has fired on Intel’s flagship processor, the Core i9-12900K, which claims a 90% improvement over the M1 Ultra in multi-threaded performance at the same wattage, and the ability to match the best of Apple’s numbers. Intel while using less power than 100W. Company same win over Nvidia’s RTX 3090 GPU, which Apple claims to beat in terms of performance while consuming 200W less power. (Obviously, we’ll be looking to check those numbers for ourselves in the coming days and weeks). The Apple Silicon transition isn’t an experiment anymore – it’s Apple’s future, and it’s the future PC makers will have to pay attention to.


How many times can Apple double it?
Image: Apple

Next, that’s how Apple is making its chips. Currently, Apple has four different models of Arm-based M1 chips, which blur the lines between product form factors in a way we don’t often see in semiconductors. Apple has been taking a different approach – instead of building chips for specific devices, Apple has effectively built just one really good chip: its A-series processor. And all it’s doing is scaling, seemingly without limits. From phones, to laptops, to arguably the most powerful desktop computer, Apple’s secret sauce seems to be nothing more than double the size of each of its chips and more cooling at each step. But it’s notable because no other company has done it before – and because it allowed Apple to create an entire portfolio of computers. from $430 arrive $8,000 (and continuing to rise) around a single point in its silicon architecture roadmap.

The M1 in the MacBook Air or iPad is the same chip as in Apple’s iMac and Mac Mini desktop computers, running at roughly the same speed and efficiency. The M1 Max from a MacBook Pro laptop makes the transition to a desk with Mac Studio. And even the company’s super powerful M1 Ultra isn’t a purely desktop-centric design, as it’s really just two M1 Max processors in one jacket. Devices are differentiated based on specific features or form factor, not necessarily just how powerful they are.


The M1 MacBook Air shook the industry when we saw how capable the Arm was.
Vjeran Pavic’s photo / The Verge


Beefier MacBook Pro survives by throwing more cores and cooling the same problem.
Photo of Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

That’s the kind of expansion we’re likely to see with Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro, By Bloomberg Mark Gurman’s report will launch later this year with up to 40 CPU cores and 128 graphics cores on a single chip (equivalent to four M1 Max processors combined, or two M1 Ultra chips). It’s once again doubled – presumably with extra cooling to compensate.

Just as Apple is differentiating the Mac Studio from the Macbook Pro with different form factors, ports, and feature sets, we will likely see a similar change to help the new Mac Pro stand out from the Mac Studio. . The Mac Pro is currently Apple’s most powerful (and most expensive) product, and it fits into a very different niche than some of the company’s other computers – and the company’s product with a large margin of error. company over the years like Apple misjudged what power users need from their hardware.

An M1-enabled Mac Pro will likely need more than a double the core count of the M1 to satisfy professionals; it needs extensibility, modularity and customizability. Things like PCIe cards, user-accessible memory slots, and compatibility with discrete graphics cards and external hardware accelerators – that’s what made the 2019 refresh a success. recent (and omission of 2016 Model “trash bin” almost immediately). None of Apple’s Arm-based designs offer any of that, and it remains an open question whether Apple is interested in offering them to any degree.

A glowing rainbow M1 Ultra chip, surrounded by memory modules

There’s no RAM slot on this M1 Ultra – those black squares are internal storage.
Image: Apple

The sheer power of Apple’s CPU and GPU cores could mean it can beat today’s RTX 3090; The 128-core GPU in the Mac Pro should provide an even bigger buffer for a longer period of time. But without user-upgradable parts, Apple will force future Mac Pro buyers to anticipate all of their needs from the start. However, we’ll have to wait for a more official announcement to see if Apple can avoid the trap of relying too much on non-upgradable systems again.

The increasingly hazy line between products also applies to the chips themselves – while the number of cores and division between the effective and efficient cores vary between models (and even within microprocessors). logic, where Apple offers a variety of configurations), the cores themselves are the same: the Firestorm performance cores on the $999 MacBook Air are roughly the same as on the $3,999 Mac Studio M1 Ultra, immediately down to the clock speed of 3.23GHz, although the more powerful chips have more cache and DRAM bandwidth. From a technical standpoint, the M1’s Firestorm cores aren’t much different from the iPhone 12’s A14 cores, although the iPhone’s cores are a bit slower.

Intel’s latest 12th Gen processors are built using an analog-to-scale approach, with a combination of performance and efficient cores from the most powerful desktop chips to the latest models. The most battery-friendly for lightweight laptops. But Intel’s chips aren’t quite as extensive as Apple’s here, with products still more traditionally broken down into groups for different types of laptop computers and desktop models. Intel’s desktop chips (for the most part) don’t make the transition to laptops or tablets in the same way Apple does.

Question M2

Finally, there’s the future of Apple’s processors. Apple Silicon is clearly here to stay (at this point, Apple only sells a pair of Intel-powered machines: the old Mac Mini with severely outdated hardware, and the soon-to-be-replaced Mac Pro). This means that at some point – possibly as soon as this year – we will start to see next wave of processors, possibly with the nickname “M2” or another name.

However, whatever Apple’s next generation of chip is, it probably won’t look like the huge leap forward that the Intel to M1 adapter has been. Instead, it will likely be a gradual, incremental upgrade — similar to changes from one generation of iPhone A-series processors to the next.

When it comes to processor upgrades, there are two effective ways to do it. You can use a new (or refreshed) architecture that introduces more powerful and efficient CPU or GPU cores, or you can switch to a smaller production node – allowing you to pack a lot of balls more semiconductors in a similar space or shrinking similar hardware further .


The M1 Ultra doesn’t actually use Apple’s latest cores.
Image; Apple

We know Apple has better silicon designs: the company’s A15 chipset has more advanced Avalanche high-performance cores and Blizzard’s energy-efficient cores, which are (at least on paper) better than Firestorm and Icestorm cores that aren’t. they replaced (which Apple originally relaunched with A14 . chip in the iPhone 12 lineup). Historically, Apple has tended to focus on improving its individual core designs with its A-series chips in the iPhone, but the dividends tend to be smaller year-over-year.

A future “M2” could go in that direction and start refreshing Apple’s line of chips with Avalanche and Blizzard cores, potentially delivering the same performance or performance as an iPhone 12 to iPhone 13 upgrade. Best a rumor from 9to5Mac indicates that Apple is looking to do just that for its M2 lineup, along with adding more GPU cores to some of its chip models.

Apple could also – as some rumors have suggested – make a more modest upgrade and take the existing M1 designs and move them down to a more advanced production node. That’s what could happen this year, with reports that Apple could ship a new MacBook Air with an almost identical chipset built on TSMC’s 4nm node, instead of the 5nm node it currently uses for the M1 chip – this could allow Apple to boost performance efficiency and/or energy efficiency.

To avoid some woes with the Mac Pro, however, it’s clear that Apple has succeeded in ditching its first generation of computer hardware. But its rivals aren’t sitting idly by either: Intel is finally shipping its own next-generation laptop chips, and AMD’s products are better than ever. And that doesn’t even account for Arm-based competition – like Qualcomm’s looming plan to bring the fight to the fore. Apple with chips designed by Nuvia in 2023.

Apple Silicon was a fresh start for the company’s computers, which propelled them to stay ahead of the competition. But with the transition almost complete, Apple has to do more than just impress once – it also needs to maintain that momentum for future products. Apple chips are on the table

Fry Electronics Team

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