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A Leading Market Analyst Firm Positively weighs-in on Apple's decision to 'ARM' Macs with Apple Silicon

1 x Apple Silicon

 

On June 22 Patently Apple posted a report titled "It was a Historic WWDC Keynote as Apple introduced Macs with 'Apple Silicon' coming to market this Fall." On June 29 Microsoft's former head of Windows praised Apple's shift to Macs with Apple Silicon by calling it a 'Fearless Strategy.' Today a leading market analyst has weighed in on Apple's shift to Apple Silicon in a positive way.

 

A new analytical report posted by Counterpoint today states: "At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC20), Apple announced that its entire Mac product line will switch from Intel chips to Apple Silicon within two years. Based on ARM cores, Apple Silicon is a series of Apple-designed SoCs meant to fulfill the requirements of new Macs that allow iOS apps to run directly on the new Mac OS – macOS Big Sur. Apple plans to ship the first Mac with Apple Silicon by the end of this year. The developer transition kit with the A12Z SoC has already been released to the developers." The report provided a quick analysis of Apple's major move.

 

Quick Analysis

The benefits of migrating to the new architecture (Apple Silicon):

 

  • Reducing reliance on a single supplier
  • Differentiating products from competitors
  • Gaining control of the ecosystem
  • Allowing developers to develop apps for both mobile and computer applications using the same APIs and programming tools.
  • Reducing cost

 

Cost reduction is one of Apple Silicon’s advantages over Intel CPUs because the former will be produced with TSMC‘s advanced technology. In the past few years, Intel has been struggling to improve its chip manufacturing process, which has stayed at 14nm/10nm, falling behind TSMC’s 5nm in 2020. This gives Apple a motivation for the migration and a belief that the performance of its self-designed chips can be better.

 

Future Apple Silicon

 

Counterpoint analyst Brady Wang further stated in his report that "although the developer transition kit uses a modified Mac mini with an A12Z chip that has been used in iPad Pro, we believe Apple is unlikely to merely reuse existing chips for iPhone or iPad in Macs.

 

There could be two lines of Mac-specific SoC processors for different markets – one for light laptops such as MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and possibly iPad Pro, and the other for ultra-high-performance desktop Macs such as iMac Pro and Mac Pro.

 

The primary goal of a laptop-grade SoC would be to have balance between performance and power consumption. The highly integrated PCB and the laptop-grade SoC, which is smaller than Intel’s CPU, can reserve more space for battery packs. Conversely, in situations where battery life and chip size are not major concerns (like in a desktop Mac), the performance of the chip can be maximized.

 

The initial production linewidth of Apple Silicon will be 5nm. However, since Apple and TSMC need to cooperate together to improve the performance of the new chips. The Apple Silicon is expected to stay at 5nm for two or three years."

 

Future Macs

 

Brady added that "Components on PCB will be more compact in future laptop Macs, including MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, allowing the new Macs to use the up-to-date high-performance processors and other components in a smaller package, leaving more room for battery packs.

 

New Macs may adopt BGA-SSD or even raw NAND that will be managed directly by Apple Silicon. This can save some space and costs of controllers.

 

Since the ARM core will consume less power, it will not require a large fan as in Intel-based Macs. The saved space will be used for the battery as well.

 

The functions of MacBook Air and iPad Pro will become very close. The former is like a clamshell laptop and the latter is like a detachable laptop.

 

Future Macs are expected to integrate more sensors, such as 3D sensing and ultra-wideband (UWB). The SoC here will incorporate more powerful NPUs to process the image captured by iPhone 12 and iPad Pro." 

 

Although the cost of Apple Silicon is lower than Intel’s CPU, Counterpoint believes that the price of future Macs will not necessarily be cheaper than the current models. For more on this, read the full Counterpoint report.

 

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