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Home / Technology / Apple must show its iPhone chip cousin is powerful enough for the Mac

Apple must show its iPhone chip cousin is powerful enough for the Mac



Apple's Arm-based Mac will be able to run software for iPads and iPhones, including the Monument Valley game.

Apple’s Arm-based Mac will be able to run software for iPads and iPhones, including the Monument Valley game.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland / CNET

Apple is risking its brain implantation for Mac computers, swapping Intel chips for custom-designed processors. Apple’s microprocessor is part of the Arm family – the kind used in iPhones and iPads – that delivers faint speeds on Windows PCs.

But Apple has a chance to accelerate that reputation. With the A-series chip, the iPhone passed Android phones in terms of performance, according to the Geekbench speed test, and the iPhone 12 passed the Intel-powered MacBook laptop in several tests. The new Mac Arm chips give Apple the opportunity to pack more circuits backed up with larger batteries.

We won’t know the speed of the chips until an expected “Apple silicon” Mac announcement on Tuesday. Performance will be critical to Mac chip transition, affecting whether Mac buyers enthusiastically embrace new models, wait a while, or even buy Windows machines running Tiger Lake chips. new Intel. With pandemic coronavirus With PC sales soaring, it’s time for Apple to try to attract as many customers as possible.

Technology analyst Avi Greengart expects two or maybe three types of Apple silicon for different types of Macs – thin laptops, more powerful laptops, and power-plugs. “Over time, Apple will bring its own silicon into all of its Macs, but the Mac Pro will likely be the last to completely separate from Intel,” he said.

Apple declined to comment for this story. At WWDC’s announcement in June, the company said it would continue to sell Intel-based Macs for about two years and maintain software support “for many years to come.”

Apple has real reason to take the chip-switching challenge. The company may more closely align its hardware and software, just as it does with the iPhone. It is possible to customize its chip with more like features WHO Outstanding processing circuit compared to PCs running Intel. It can cut component costs.

CEO Tim Cook also has a desire to “own and control” the key technologies in his products, a principle known as the “Cook theory”.

In recent years, Macs have suffered the fate of Intel as the chip maker has struggled to modernize its production. Apple silicon gives companies the freedom to get their Macs where they want them to be.

Start small

Given the power efficiency and energy efficiency of current Apple silicon chips, like the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic, an Arm-based Mac is likely a mainstream laptop that combines mid-range performance with excellent battery life. That could replace the MacBook Airs that run Intel today.

A more powerful equivalent of MacBook Pro, with the horsepower required for photographers, video editors, programmers, illustrators and musicians, would be a significant step up from the processor. iPhone and iPad. But it will allow Apple to serve customers who are willing to pay the premium for performance.


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Apple is expected to supply the 13-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 16-inch MacBook Pro with the new chip, Bloomberg reported this week.

Although Arm chips are cheaper than Intel chips, Apple will continue to charge more for its new Macs, Greengart said. “Apple already has a lower-cost computing platform,” he said. It is called iPad.

The high-end iMac and Mac Pro desktops are a completely different matter. Plugged into a wall outlet, they can consume as much power as a PC gaming rig. Apple will need powerful chips with lots of processing cores, high-speed cache, and communication links.

Apple has signaled that the new Macs will be ready for at least some heavy work in June, showcasing their own Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Affinity Photo, Cinema 4D, and Final Cut Pro on a raw silicon Mac. Apple model.

Just don’t expect Apple to use its own silicon.

The Mac monster?

Technically, there’s nothing stopping Apple from creating giant Macs with its own chips. The world’s fastest supercomputer currently uses Arm processors. Although current Arm-powered PCs aren’t that fast, it’s because chipmaker Qualcomm’s processors prioritize low power consumption and ultra-long battery life over high performance.

Still, it’s a business question of how far and how fast will Apple go. Large microprocessors cost a lot of money to manufacture, and high-end machines sell for much less. Apple pays Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) to do its chip designs.

It is relatively easy for Intel to adapt its high-end Xeon server processors for use in high-end PCs. For Apple, a large processor, a lot more powerful than its appeal.

“I don’t question if Apple can compete in high-end PCs and workstations,” said Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood. “I’m just wondering if Apple is willing to invest a lot of money in the high-end Apple Arm chip that can compete with Xeons.”

Conversion tips

The switch to Apple’s own processor is the third in Mac history. The first Mac to use Motorola’s 68000 series of chips. In 1994, Apple switched to using PowerPC chips developed by the Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance, then switched to Intel chips in 2006.

Such a transition is difficult, requiring Apple to refurbish the Mac’s electronics, rebuild MacOS and software like Safari, update developer tools that the developers. Other software manufacturers are needed to support new machines and build emulation software to allow old style applications to run on new machines.

Brookwood said that Apple’s first transition was a disaster with Apple losing market share as developers struggled to bring their software to PowerPCs. As for the transition to Intel, Apple had its own developer tools in place, and the transition was quick. Brookwood expects a similar change to Apple’s silicon.

Apple has been offering developer systems for months to give developers a head start before actual Arm-based Macs start shipping. There’s an additional incentive to support the new Macs this time around: iPhone developers will be able to bring their iOS apps to MacOS.

If Apple offered powerful Arm-based Macs, it would be another driver for developers to move quickly – and Apple customers as well.


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