It’s starting to look like history is again repeating itself. Apple is once again shipping new chips that are more massive leaps forward and leaping even further beyond all its competition, and a lot of press, pundits and critics are underestimating Apple and what it really means. History knows better. Sadly, the critics do not.
So let’s talk about what history teaches us, what power is coming, and why this is even bigger than just benchmarks.
A-Series Mobile Silicon Kicking Competitors Asses For Years
This has happened multiple times with iPhone A series chips for years and years. From their very first iPhone chip that Apple designed in house, the Apple A4 (Wikipedia link) over 11 years ago. To the first 64-bit mobile chip in the Apple A7 (Wikipedia link) in 2013, that stunned everyone when they announced it. To the first Neural Engine in the Apple A11 Bionic (Wikipedia link) in 2017.
A-series chips have been kicking everyone’s ass in mobile for years, and began kicking Intel and AMD laptop and desktop processors. Apple’s transition away from Intel to its own M1 was an obvious and necessary move.
Checkout Wikipedia’s article on Apple Silicon in the List of Apple processors section for lots of details.
Competitors Should Have Known Better
Apple had been making advances for years, blowing competitors away in mobile silicon. Desktop silicon had been rumored for years, going all the way back to 2011. Check out my article in July 2020 about Apple Silicon Macs Are About More Than Just Better Performance in the This Was Inevitable section. And yet, Apple’s M1 still took competitors in the desktop/laptop silicon space Intel and AMD, by surprise.
The mainstream press got it all wrong too, which I wrote about in July 2020 in Apple Silicon Macs: Getting It Wrong – Wash Post & WSJ.
And competitors and pundits were all wrong. Wronger than wrong. Just filled to the brim with wrongness. And it’s once again entertaining to watch them underestimate Apple… again.
Apple pundits and critics are repeating their mistakes again.
Learning From Apple’s History of Big Advances
Here are just some.
|2006||Mac PowerPC transition to Intel processors|
Apple announced the transition from PowerPC to Intel processors and shipped the first Intel-based iMac (WikiPedia). This milestone is especially relevant now because the strategy, experience and technology Apple developed then, is now empowering the transition to Apple’s own silicon.
|2008||Jobs starts Apple’s work in designing their own silicon because he’s not satisfied with the chip in the iPhone.|
|2010||First iPhone chip that Apple designed in house, the Apple A4 (Wikipedia).|
|2013||First 64-bit mobile chip in the Apple A7 (Wikipedia).|
This stunned everyone when they announced it at that year’s iPhone event, especially direct silicon competitors like QualComm, Intel and AMD because they realized they were years behind Apple.
|2013||Touch ID (Wikipedia)|
Critics claim it won’t work – they were wrong. Later competitors create poor implementations that can be hacked.
|2015||Apple Watch (WikiPedia)|
|2017||First Neural Engine in the Apple A11 Bionic (Wikipedia)|
|2017||Shipped Face ID (Wikipedia).|
I correctly predicted before it shipped that all the pundits were getting that wrong in Apple Face ID FUD or How To Tell When Someone is Clueless.
|2018||A12X Bionic (WikiPedia) ships in the iPad Pro (3rd generation) and noticeably starts to embarrass desktop class CPUs.|
|2020||M1 announced and shipped.|
Apple in last year’s M1 announcement event on Nov 10, 2020 they used these really vague graphs like the one below. That opened the door wide for skeptics to throw all kinds of shade on Apple’s claims. Once they shipped, critics were proven wrong again. They were even faster than Apple claimed.
This time in Apple’s announcement on Oct 18, 2021 they did provide some more details like the PC models they tested against, but still used those simple graphs that were similar to what spun pundits and critics into a frenzy the last time. I think it’s not entirely impossible that Apple is doing this just to screw with them.
It’s About More Than Just Benchmarks
I wrote this before in my article in July 2020 about Apple Silicon Macs Are About More Than Just Better Performance. And once again the M1 Pro and M1 Max are more than just insanely fast raw performance. They do beat nearly everything out there, beat every Intel and AMD laptop class processor, beat nearly every laptop class discrete GPUs from Nvidia and AMD, beat some desktop class Intel and AMC CPUs, and even compare to and beat some workstation class CPUs like the Intel Xeon.
The benchmarks that have leak are showing, to those of we who pay very close attention to Apple and understand Apple well, what we expected. CPU performance boosts that are a little higher than a multiple of the M1. And GPU scores that are blowing away a lot of discrete GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.
Here are some CPU Geekbench scores from 8-Core 14-Inch MacBook Pro Around 20% Slower Than 10-Core Models in Multi-Core Benchmark – MacRumors. And check out the latest in Geekbench’s Mac Benchmarks page, on their Geekbench Browser site under Benchmark Charts > Mac Benchmark Chart.
|M1 Pro (8-core)||1,767||9,948|
|M1 Max (10-core)||1,764||12,380|
The Performance That Really Matters
The benchmarks only just begin to measure performance. With these insanely great Apple Silicon based Macs, there are a whole lot more to the gigantic performance boasts that you’ll see.
Beyond raw power in CPU and GPU that you’ll feel and be able to measure, everything just feels snappier. You’re Mac boots faster, wakes up instantly, starts apps instantly, copies files in a blink of an eye, refreshes objects on the screen and between screens without lag as you drag and resize things, can do things that standard chips just cannot, crazy huge battery life due to dramatically higher efficiency than everything else out there.
Here’s are the highlighted feature charts from Apple’s event.
What Makes Apple Silicon Better Than Everything Else
Here’s a list of some of the many advancements that Apple has made in its M-series Apple Silicon and MacBook Pro architecture. Many of these that competitors like Intel, AMD, Nvidia, QualComm, etc. don’t have or just plain can’t do. Collectively this is what puts Apple many years ahead of everyone else, and their new Apple Silicon Macs in a new class all to themselves.
- Unified Memory Architecture provides a single pool of high‑bandwidth, low‑latency memory that allows apps to share data between the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine, without having the transfer large amounts of data between separate memory pools which is the typical bottle mark in conventional architectures.
- Insanely fast memory bandwidth – 200 GB/s on M1 Pro and 400 GB/s on M1 Max.
- SSD performance leaps up to an insane 7.4 GB/s – over double the already blazingly fast SSDs in previous M1 and Intel based models. This absolutely destroys most PCs out there.
- ProMotion displays – Not just 120hz refresh rates, but variable refresh rates for better quality displays and more battery life.
- Lots and lots of custom silicon:
- Neural Engine – 16 cores
- Media Engine – Provides hardware accelerated video decoding and encoding.
- Image Signal Processor (ISP)
- Secure Enclave
- Disk encryption
- Thunderbolt 4 on all USB-C ports and I believe it might be architected with 1 Thunderbolt bus per port.
Usually ports share Thunderbolt buses which can slow overall performance. For example, the previous Intel based Mac mini and MacBook Pros that had 4 ports had only 2 buses. Although that’s more than most PC laptops have, if they even have any Thunderbolt ports they might only have 1 bus.
- Display Super Powers
- In addition to the external displays supported by the M1 chips below, 2 additional displays are the laptop display and an iPad connected via SideCar. And AirPlay might even add another display.
- M1 Pro can drive 2 external 6K display – Total of 4 or 5 displays.
- M1 Max can drive 3 external 6K display and a 4th 4K display – Total of 6 or 7 displays.
- A lot of PCs can’t drive more than 2 4K displays, if that – some are limited to must lower quality HD level. And I’d be surprised if any can drive 6K.
Then there’s the other new features of the MacBooks Pro that are going beyond the silicon and architecture.