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Apple Executives Discuss How Apple Silicon Achieves Steve Jobs' Goal of 'Making the Whole Widget'

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In a new interview with Om Malik, Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi, marketing chief Greg Joswiak, and chipmaking chief Johny Srouji discussed the motivations behind Apple Silicon, how Apple is able to differentiate itself from its competitors, and why chip specifications are becoming irrelevant.



Joswiak explained that Apple Silicon represents the completion of Steve Jobs' vision to make "the whole widget" for the Mac:

Steve used to say that we make the whole widget. We've been making the whole widget for all of our products, from the iPhone, to the iPads, to the watch. This was the final element to making the whole widget on the Mac.

When asked about how Apple views the technical specifications of its custom silicon, Srouji remarked, "It's not about the gigahertz and megahertz, but about what the customers are getting out of it." He went on to explain that specifications cannot represent how custom silicon can be "perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it."

Federighi concurred, offering an example of how specifications cannot always indicate real-world performance:

The specs that are typically bandied about in the industry have stopped being a good predictor of actual task-level performance for a long time. Architecturally, how many streams of 4k or 8k video can you process simultaneously while performing certain effects? That is the question video professionals want an answer to. No spec on the chip is going to answer that question for them.

Srouji pointed out how Apple is in a unique position to engineer hardware and software symbiotically for a better overall result:

I believe the Apple model is unique and the best model. We're developing a custom silicon that is perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it. When we design our chips, which are like three or four years ahead of time, Craig and I are sitting in the same room defining what we want to deliver, and then we work hand in hand. You cannot do this as an Intel or AMD or anyone else.

Federighi then elaborated on how close hardware and software integration can remedy some of the inherent physical limitations of hardware and resolve specific problems:

It is difficult to put more transistors on a piece of silicon. It starts to be more important to integrate more of those components closely together and to build purpose-built silicon to solve the specific problems for a system. Being in a position for us to define together the right chip to build the computer we want to build and then build that exact chip at scale is a profound thing.

As Srouji sees it, just as the clock speed of the chip inside an iPhone is unimportant, the same will be true for the Macs of the future. Instead, it will all be about "how many tasks you can finish on a single battery life," for example.

Federighi assured that for customers who do not yet have an Apple Silicon-powered Mac appropriate for their purposes, "their day will come. But for now, the systems we're building are, in every way I can consider, superior to the ones they've replaced."

See the full interview for more information.

Article Link: Apple Executives Discuss How Apple Silicon Achieves Steve Jobs' Goal of 'Making the Whole Widget'
 
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CJ Dorschel

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Dec 14, 2019
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Ok I admit, I’m very impressed with the results so far. My only concerns are CPU’s for pro systems such as the Mac Pro, discrete GPU support, Thunderbolt speeds and connectivity, etc. I know Ampere has a 128-Core ARM server grade CPU which is insanely impressive. Windows for ARM virtualization or cold booting is the other. There’s a lot of promise ahead and I look forward to buying a silicon Mac Pro - hopefully with a more reasonable base price with BTO options.

Yet the testing results from just the first entry level M1 are pleasantly surprising.

Now just focus on OS X/macOS and iron out the issues (maybe get off the free annual release cycle and back on a 2-3 year testing release with a new beta every two weeks on a wiped Mac to debug the core OS without third party apps and plugins interfering as we did with OS X 10.0 - 10.6), but that’s a whole other topic.
 
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wood1208

macrumors regular
Aug 30, 2015
200
137
With M1 MAC, Apple giving higher performance/features per $ price when compare to equivalent Intel inside. It also helps vertical tigher integration. Since Apple controls the CPU/GPU chip design,schedule and cost; further down in cycle, Apple can easily drop the price creating value for average as well business, enterprise customers. This also helps Apple continue making more $ per MAC which fuels with Apple coming out with better MAC's on a regular basis and keep dropping price for current/older MACs faster on a regular basis. The whole strategy is WIN for all.
If M1 Macbooks were available in end of 2018; the pandemic demand would have put Apple M1 MAC in severe short supply.
 
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nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
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What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.

Apple has become the Microsoft of the 90s in both hardware and software.
 

magbarn

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2008
2,446
1,600
Playing around my son's M1 MBA has me blown away. MUCH MUCH more responsive and much cooler than my wife's 2020 i5 MBA while getting superior battery life with an integrated GPU that is actually good.

I haven't been blown away in a CPU performance leap like this since Core2Duo that killed pretty much everything in the market 14 or so years ago.

Yes, AMD is close, but consuming 5X the power to get there.

I'm definitely a believer. I'm pretty sure Apple is going to wow us again with the higher end M1 variants with decent I/O and even better GPU.
 

ghostface147

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2008
3,357
3,036
I'm still wondering if the Apple Silicon devices will come with discreet graphics down the road. An iGPU cannot compete with discrete graphics for super heavy rendering. Then again, maybe the M1 may not need discrete graphics. Also, how much more can they redesign? Thinner bezels, FaceID, and then what? It'll still be the same aluminum slab. They aren't going to turn it into a triangle or circle laptop.
 

coredev

macrumors regular
Sep 26, 2012
166
271
What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.
What a negative view on things. I can't believe some people aren't still over the whole ports thing. USB-C is the future, it's used for a lot of "standard hardware" now, so what's your point?
 

coredev

macrumors regular
Sep 26, 2012
166
271
I'm still wondering if the Apple Silicon devices will come with discreet graphics down the road. An iGPU cannot compete with discrete graphics for super heavy rendering.
Perhaps they come with a discreet Apple designed GPU. We will see what the future holds.
 
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applicious84

macrumors member
Sep 1, 2020
86
239
What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.

Apple has become the Microsoft of the 90s in both hardware and software.
I'm so conflicted on this. Apple, in general, is so opaque and shady that some of the more serious users really have to struggle to get what they need--or just can't. And then, there's this early Anandtech review, where they can migrate x86 apps for reasonable use while having benchmarks that exceed intel desktops chips for native software, using what they claim is their budget processor.

It's unfortunate that they may have such a dominant position, considering everything you, rightfully, mention. You have to adapt to them, and they can be really inflexible. But then, if they work out their bugs, which seems to be put further and further on the backburner, they'll really be performance leaders in so many ways. I'm looking forward to more benchmarks and (hopefully!!) more focus on stability.

 
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GLS

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2010
377
138
What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.

Apple has become the Microsoft of the 90s in both hardware and software.

It's pretty simple. Spend your money elsewhere.

The rest of the world is going to move on.
 

Textime

macrumors regular
Jan 25, 2016
148
273
With M1 MAC, Apple giving higher performance/features per $ price when compare to equivalent Intel inside. It also helps vertical tigher integration. Since Apple controls the CPU/GPU chip design,schedule and cost; further down in cycle, Apple can easily drop the price creating value for average as well business, enterprise customers. This also helps Apple continue making more $ per MAC which fuels with Apple coming out with better MAC's on a regular basis and keep dropping price for current/older MACs faster on a regular basis. The whole strategy is WIN for all.
If M1 Macbooks were available in end of 2018; the pandemic demand would have put Apple M1 MAC in severe short supply.
I’m pretty sure that you know what it means in the sense of costs to develop a chip which replaces Intel and AMD. I don’t want to know the number
 
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LV426

macrumors 65816
Jan 22, 2013
1,032
551
"how many tasks you can finish on a single battery life," is not my burning question.

My burning question is how well will Apple computers virtualise Windows 10? I rather like having a Windows VM on my MacBook, because it's required for work. A dedicated PC for Windows would be an inconvenience.
 
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Labeno

macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2008
324
1,003
I like the way Apple describes performance... in a real life way.
I wish all other companies would do that... for example, car companies love to state horse power, but not 0 to 60 times.
0-60 times mean something to people, not horse power.
 
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