Former Intel Engineer Claims Buggy Skylake Chips Hastened Apple's Switch to Custom Silicon

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At this week's WWDC, Apple confirmed its plan to switch from Intel to custom processors for its Macs over a two-year transition period. Apple said that the switch is all about platform consolidation and performance advantages, but at least one former Intel insider claims that quality control issues with Skylake chips was the reason Apple finally decided to to ditch Intel.

"The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem," said former Intel engineer François Piednoël, speaking to PC Gamer. "It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad.

"When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you're not leading into the right place."

"For me this is the inflection point," said Piednoël. "This is where the Apple guys who were always contemplating to switch, they went and looked at it and said: 'Well, we've probably got to do it.' Basically the bad quality assurance of Skylake is responsible for them to actually go away from the platform."
There have been rumors suggesting Apple has an interest in Arm-based Macs for years now, but it was only on Monday that Apple confirmed the plan, satying it expects its first Mac with custom silicon to launch by the end of 2020.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that a redesigned iMac due in the fourth quarter of 2020 will be one of Apple's first two Mac models with a custom Arm-based processor, with the other being a future 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Following Apple's announcement about its switch to custom silicon, Intel said it will continue supporting the Mac through its transition, but insisted that its processors are still the best option for developers.

Article Link: Former Intel Engineer Claims Buggy Skylake Chips Hastened Apple's Switch to Custom Silicon
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
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"When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you're not leading into the right place."

Back when I was a project manager (mostly for web pages and apps, but still), there were some projects where the customer reported lots and lots of small bugs and inconsistencies within weeks of delivery. Mostly stuff that the team - myself very much included - should have picked up easily and removed before deploying. That was not my proudest moment(s).

One (of many) reasons I switched to teaching a few years back. ;)
 

TrueBlou

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Sep 16, 2014
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The move to their own silicon has been inevitable, ever since an iPad started to outperform some Intel silicone.

Take that design, give it more cores, more thermal space, more speed and you have a very capable slice of silicone.

We’ve, well some of us have, been saying it for years. And yes, feel free to do a search and you will find posts by me saying exactly that, I just can’t be bothered. Too much stress, no sleep for 3 days, wife and mother in hospital. I’m just here for the easy stuff :D
 

ilikewhey

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May 14, 2014
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so what does apple silicon guarantee, longer battery life? the speed of 10th gen is good enough for what i do. but if the apple silicon offers tremendous all day battery life i'm willing to wait.
 
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iBluetooth

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Mar 29, 2016
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He's right and also that Apple finally has optimised the chips enough to show us a mac mini running an iPad Pro chip. Imagine what they can do with a chip designed and optimised for the desktop!

But this is also about including AI, Security, 5G, FPGA etc. into their computers also and that is just the future. It will become harder and harder to differentiate iPads from macs and they will be much more secure than Intel CPU computers.
 

TrueBlou

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Sep 16, 2014
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so what does apple silicon guarantee, longer battery life? the speed of 10th gen is good enough for what i do. but if the apple silicon offers tremendous all day battery life i'm willing to wait.
Personally, I’ve just bought a MacBook Air for now. My thinking is that in 2 or 3 years, when the transition is complete and they’ve improved on the hardware over a couple of years. That’ll (potentially) be the time to buy into an ARM Mac.
 

MOFS

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Feb 27, 2003
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Apple have not really had control of their Mac processors for some time now. Even during the PowerPC era Motorola and IBM were mostly in control. Hopefully the ARM processors gives them so control and space for innovation whilst maintaining competitiveness with the x86 processors.
 

ruka.snow

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Jun 6, 2017
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Apple have not really had control of their Mac processors for some time now. Even during the PowerPC era Motorola and IBM were mostly in control. Hopefully the ARM processors gives them so control and space for innovation whilst maintaining competitiveness with the x86 processors.
To an extent by the sheer competitiveness of the phone and tablet markets I am sure than the Mac can hang of the coattails of the iDevice development budget and drive for the next decade. macOS now has every iPad app being just a UI tweak away and Mac apps like the entire creative cloud being just a UI update away too.
 

MOFS

macrumors 65816
Feb 27, 2003
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To an extent by the sheer competitiveness of the phone and tablet markets I am sure than the Mac can hang of the coattails of the iDevice development budget and drive for the next decade. macOS now has every iPad app being just a UI tweak away and Mac apps like the entire creative cloud being just a UI update away too.
I think that’s feasible. The issue will be the power users and whether either NVIDIA or similar graphics chips are compatible or whether Apple decide to go their own way with graphics cards which is more of a risk.
 

b656

macrumors member
Aug 10, 2016
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Haha who cares about intel at this point...

Questions....
1. How would this affect thunderbolt?
2. I remember seeing something about Apple suing its former lead chip designer...
Does anybody know if the designer had a significant role in making the A chip what is now?
 
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ruka.snow

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Jun 6, 2017
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I think that’s feasible. The issue will be the power users and whether either NVIDIA or similar graphics chips are compatible or whether Apple decide to go their own way with graphics cards which is more of a risk.
That is still in the air a bit to me. Are we going to have a Mac Pro with more Radeon Pro cards with a Apple CPU or will we end up with a machine full of after burner cards.
- - Post merged: - -

Haha who cares about intel at this point...

Questions....
1. How would this affect thunderbolt?
2. I remember seeing something about Apple suing its former lead chip designer...
Does anybody know if the designer had a significant role in making the A chip what is now?
1. TB3 is now USB4 and open to all.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
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Refresh my memory... which Macs use Skylake?
All of them pretty much (if you talk about current ones).
- - Post merged: - -

so what does apple silicon guarantee, longer battery life? the speed of 10th gen is good enough for what i do. but if the apple silicon offers tremendous all day battery life i'm willing to wait.
Better performance, better battery, some cool stuff for content creators (like a hardware machine learning accelerator), a very fast GPU.

For battery specifically - Apple CPUs are asymmetric designs. They have cores optimized for performance and they have slower cores optimized for power consumption. Since most everyday work can be easily done in the slower cores, the battery saving are likely to be substantial.
 

Abazigal

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Jul 18, 2011
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so what does apple silicon guarantee, longer battery life? the speed of 10th gen is good enough for what i do. but if the apple silicon offers tremendous all day battery life i'm willing to wait.
Just look at the keynote. The same A12z chip from the iPad Pro could run tomb raider smoothly at an unoptimised state, while an equivalent intel chip in a laptop would be running the same game at single-digit FPS.

What Apple silicon will likely offer is way better performance, at lower power consumption (longer battery life) while producing far less heat (which allows for thinner and lighter form factors, and better sustained performance).

It also gives Apple the freedom to customise the chip for whatever new feature they want to include in their laptops.

It's going to be better in every way.
 
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