“When we make bold changes, it’s for one simple reason – so we can make better products”. That’s the words Apple CEO Tim Cook said while introducing Apple Silicon.
Apple announced the new system on a chip (SoC) and system in a package (SiP) processor named Apple Silicon. It will be the new custom-built processor designed by Apple Inc. Apple’s processors mainly use the ARM architecture. And these are known as the basis of major Apple devices. For example, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePad, iPod touch, as well as Apple TV. Apple has been using intel’s processors for more than a decade. And, now Apple is planning to move forward with its custom-built processors. Moreover, now the developers are also adapting the changes of ARM-based Macs to develop new apps, accordingly.
Moreover, if we talk about their changing architectures, Apple does not seems a newbie. Since the launch of the Macintosh, Apple has been changing architectures frequently. Apple launched its first Macintosh with Motorola 68000 and used Motorola chips for several years while focusing on its evolution. Later, things changed timely and a joint group came into existence named AIM alliance. As a result, Apple released the Power Macintosh with a new processor named PowerPC. After that, in 2006, Apple joined Intel which had a major existence in the CPU’s market. However, Apple mentioned that Macs with the intel processors also are available in the market.
Further, Apple introduced these Soc’s as M1 on Mac and A14 on iPhone. Techstorify just spotted the trend of Apple Silicon. So today you’ll know about the features, specifications and everything essentials about these new processors.
So let’s get started.
- What is Apple Silicon?
- What is A14 Bionic Chip?
- A14 Bionic Chip Specifications
- What is M1 Custom Processor?
- Specifications of M1 Custom Built processor
- What we can expect from Apple Silicon?
- The Drawbacks of Apple Silicon?
- When to expect the first Apple Silicon in the market?
What is Apple Silicon?
This is the first question that pops up in your mind after reading the word “Apple Silicon.” Today I will simplify it for you. According to Apple, the meaning of Apple Silicon is “industry-leading performance per watt.” And it is designed to give a better performance to its users. Moreover, Apple Silicon is not a particular type of chipset or processor. Apple refers to it as the whole custom silicon of the company. Therefore we’ll get Apple’s product which has designed without having any part of another company.
In short, Apple created its ecosystem and named it Apple Silicon. And, in the next years, Apple will create the iPhone, Mac, and other Apple products using their custom-built chips. It’s the exact opposite of the mac that comes with an Intel CPU.
Further, It’s allegedly said that intel didn’t want to design chips for iPhone. Therefore, Apple didn’t have a choice rather than building his custom-built. And, this was also to ensure the vertical integration of the software.
Apple released its custom-built chip for the iPhone as A14 Bionic. And it is one of the powerful chipsets designed in the market. Even if you compare it with Qualcomm and intel. On the other hand, Apple also launched the M1 processor for its upcoming Mac.
Now let’s know about both of them one by one.
What is A14 Bionic Chip?
However, Apple launched its first custom-built iPhone processor on September 9, 2015, as Apple A9. Still, everyone seems pretty excited about the new A14 Bionic chip. Well, it has its own reasons. But what exactly it is? Let’s get a deep dive into this.
Apple launched the first Apple A14 Bionic chip on September 15, 2020. The A14 Bionic is a 64-bit ARM-based system on a Chip (SoC). According to Apple, this chip includes a 16-core neural engine and new machine learning matrix accelerators with an amazing performance of twice and ten times as fast.
Apple features this chip in the products below:
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Mini
- iPad Air with the fourth generation
- iPhone Pro
- iPhone Pro Max.
A14 Bionic Chip Specifications
Moreover, TSMC is the manufacturer of A14 Bionic while on their first-generation 5 nm fabrication process. As a result, it is the first commercially available chipset with 5 nm and a 16-core AI processor. Also, it contains 11.8 billion transistors with Samsung LPDDR4X DRAM. And it is a 38% increase as compared to A13 which was 8.5 billion.
Meanwhile, it also includes a Samsung 6-core CPU, and 4-Core GPU. And because of this configuration, it can perform real-time machine learning capabilities. Apple mentioned that the A14 CPU is 40% faster than the A12. On the other hand, GPU can perform up to 30% faster as compared to A12.
Further, Apple has designed iPhone 12 with A14 Bionic using Qualcomm 5G modem. But as compare to Qualcomm processor Snapdragon 865, A14 performs enough better. With a primary core of 3.1 GHz, 4 little cores of 1.8 GHz, Apple is way ahead of other processors. And it can easily beat them in benchmark comparison of Geekbench.
What is M1 Custom Processor?
As Apple released its custom-built iPhone processor in 2015, but the new A14 Bionic chip seems quite evolutionary than its predecessor. In the same vein, M1 is the first custom processor for Mac. So obviously it seems more exciting too. Let’s know a little more about the first custom processor of Mac.
Apple announced the first ARM-based Macs with an M1 processor, on November 10, 2020. And named or market them as Apple Silicon or Silicon macs. The M1 chip is also manufactured by the TSMC and its 5nm process. Also, if you’ll see the other fundamentals of it, you’ll notice one thing. It’s almost the same as the A14 Bionic chip that Apple used in iPhone 12. Also, it works on the same fundamentals basis as the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic. However, Apple upgraded its specifications so it will match the standard of a Laptop or computer performance.
Moreover, these are the Apple products where you can expect the M1 processor.
- MacBook Air
- Mac mini
- MacBook Pro
Specifications of M1 Custom Built processor
As you see M1 has the same fundamental basis as A14 Bionic. But it is developed specifically to give a Laptop grade performance. A14 Bionic chip comes with four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance cores. And a total CPU cores of six. On the other hand, M1 upgrade the configuration to 8 high-performance cores by adding another set of core.
Also, the GPU of M1 has upgraded by Apple. As compared to A14, M1 comes with 2 extra pairs of cores. Therefore, you can expect the capability of running 25,000 threads simultaneously with 2.6 teraflops of throughput. As a result, a better graphic performance than its predecessor.
Usually, you’ll see all the chips for GPU/CPU or RAM in Mac acts separately. On the flip side, the M1 features all the chips as well as Thunderbolt control and the T2 chip as a combined chip. And Apple named it as a single system-on-chip.
M1 also features the Neural Engine, with 16 cores. This is the same you’ll see in A14 Bionic. It’s 11 teraflops of machine learning acceleration and considered as the next step to developers that write ML apps.
Meanwhile, the camera of the new macs will remains 720p. But you can expect a better image quality due to ISP and ML improvement.
What we can expect from Apple Silicon?
Alongside these specifications, there would be some special components. And Apple doesn’t want to reveal information about them yet. But the M1 chip is already efficient enough to replace an Intel i7 processor.
Better Performance and Cooling efficiency
Also, Apple states that they added the fastest integrated graphics that you won’t see on any laptop. Apple also claimed that the M1 chip performs twice faster as any latest laptop chip in the market.
” Apple says the MacBook Air with the M1 chip is faster than 98 percent of all PC laptops. Not just “thin and light” laptops or “laptops in its class,”
However, if you’ll see the benchmark numbers of Apple, they’re not that big. Still, Apple managed its hardware systematically to get more out of it. Well, it also comes with a few pros and cons. For example, you’ll see a smaller system logic board due to the new single system-on-chip. Therefore, you can expect a better cooling efficiency for the system. On the other hand, you can’t change or upgrade the memory size from 8GB to 16GB.
A14 has six performance cores and two cores for efficiency. And M1 comes with four performance and four efficiency cores. Also, you’ll get four GPU cores in A14 but eight in the M1. Well, without making it much complicated, just see the physical core numbers. And you’ll understand M1 is better as compared to A14, especially in multi-core tasks.
A smart user checks the thermal design and the size of the device or computer before making a purchase. Apple-designed the A14 Bionic without the limited battery size. As well as without any significant cooling options. Also, some publications mentioned that A14 must draw power from a battery the same size as we saw in the iPhone 12 mini. In short, it is basically designed or the amount of power drawn of A14 is restricted for smartphones.
If we’ll talk about the cooling options, adding a cooling fan into the system is the best. However, it is not a practical option for an iPhone. On the flip side, Mac with an M1 chip is much larger than the iPhone. Even as compared to its predecessor. Still, it doesn’t come with a fan in it. Therefore, it will use the efficiency cores rather than the performance cores. And, as a result, the system will generate less heat due to using only a tenth of its power. Meanwhile, you will find cooling fans in Mac mini to better performance for a longer period of time.
In short, M1 is designed for larger devices to provide a bigger battery life. And you can expect 8 hours of battery performance in the MacBook Air. And the A14 Bionic is ideal for small devices with a limited amount of battery storage.
For now, Apple requires a 5G Qualcomm modem in the iPhone 12 series to perform 5G connectivity. But Apple just created Apple Silicon means an Apple product with a whole Apple ecosystem. Therefore, you can expect an eSIM on board to add a cellular plan. You may know about the iPad Pro which will possibly release in early 2021. And, it has more than enough chances that it will be the 5G compatible device.
Better Applications accessibility
Apple Silicon would be a better approach from the perspective of a developer. For example, when they will find a common architecture to make applications such as iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. And as a result, there would be fewer complications for them. Also, it will easier to write, create, and optimize an app/software for them because now they have to create software once for an entire Apple ecosystem. In that way, they can easily create apps for the Mac which are already available on iOS and iPadOS.
Moreover, Apple also introduced a new type of app binary named Universal 2. This new thing allows all the apps to work on across all of the Apple Silicon devices as well as Intel Macs. Meanwhile, there would be many apps that will work on ARM and Intel platforms, even from the start.
The Drawbacks of Apple Silicon?
The core benefit of Apple Silicon is better performance than its predecessors and competitors. But can we actually expect an ultra-efficient performance from Apple Silicon? Qualcomm is known for the best processor named Snapdragon. And these processors actually perform tasks at an efficient speed. However, some of its new processors didn’t seem as efficient as before. Still, Apple is talking about beating this product which doesn’t seem an easy task.
Also, Apple talked about its best dedicated AMD graphics. And things will be interesting when Apple will launch it in the upcoming Macbook Pro with M1. However, is everyone sure about the M1 chip and dedicated AMD graphics will beat or match the other beast in the market. For example, Nvidia, and AMD.
Moreover, it’s not confirmed that Apple Silicon Macs will be able to Windows. However, it could be possible yet no substantial proof. Also, you can expect no more Boot Camp in the new Macs. Meanwhile, Apple demonstrated that you can run Linux on it. Moreover, Apple told that its own translation technology which is Rosetta 2 can run present Mac apps. Even, if these apps/plugins are not updated on ARM-based Mac systems. Apple also can launch its key apps alongside their versions for Apple Silicon Macs.
Well yes, it seems like Apple made a kinda huge promise to its users. But in practice, things take a little time to turn into reality.
When to expect the first Apple Silicon in the market?
Apple just launched the refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac in 2020. However, Apple also stated that Intel-based Macs will also be developed. And it’ll also be available for the consumers to buy.
Later we can expect the Mac with Apple Silicon Ecosystem at the mid or the end of 2021. However, I was thinking about two different Mac’s ads- Intel-based, and the Apple Silicon-based. This sounds a little confusing. But it will be interesting to see how Apple manages and market both Macs at the same time.
Apple leaps forward with the new approach of Apple Silicon. First, they launched the A14 Bionic chip and now with the M1 chip in Mac. Both the chips seem efficient and competitive to its competitors. But as it is an evolutionary step to make everything on its own. Therefore, we can expect a few drawbacks and tiny mistakes to see in the future. Still, Apple Silicon is a bold step. And it will take enough time to get an appropriate level of expansion.
So this was all the things we were thinking about Apple Silicon as a normal user. Hope you’ll like this post and it helped you to understand this revolutionary step in a simplistic way. Let’s know what do you think about Apple Silicon and the effects it can make on our present workflow. And don’t forget to share it with your friends who still haven’t heard about the word Apple Silicon.