Apple Silicon Was Something Bound To Happen

Apple decoupling from Intel and developing their own processors using ARM-based technology.


Vincent T

3 years ago | 4 min read

Back in 2018, or approximately 2 years ago, I wrote an article about what I felt was the direction Apple was taking. In it I wrote:

“Now I hear Apple has built a new engineering team that will concentrate fully on processor design. This is where I think Apple can reclaim some technical advantage. Apple will no longer need to use x86 based processors from intel for the MacBooks, iMacs or Mac Pros when they can develop their own CPU using ARM designs. This can also lead to a new line of products that have never been made before now that Apple has more vertical integration from the development standpoint.”

That was an article I wrote on Steemit (”Apple Had Signs Of Trouble Before: A Lack Of Innovation & Premium Prices”), so I have my testimony on the blockchain.

Apple did indeed create their own processors and it was ARM-based. Back then Apple did have the A series chips like the A12 and later A13 and A14 on their tablet and mobile devices.

That gave the iPhone X a very powerful chip unlike any other smartphone.

Now they are moving to using their own chips for their computer line up. It is not just about performance for Apple, but also energy efficiency and compatibility across the ecosystem.

Apple has increased the performance per watt level with their Apple Silicon processor. That not only improves on performance, but also saves battery life. That is a big plus for laptop and tablet users who will not need to charge as often to keep their devices powered up.

For Apple, this is all about vertical integration of most aspects of their production process. They still source materials from the outside, since they cannot obviously produce everything.

What is important is that they have more control of the design, development and manufacturing process which they didn’t have when they had to source their chips from the likes of Intel. Now they are producing their own chips, the M series, for laptops and the desktop computer line.

This begins the separation from Intel, but they will still provide support for their existing Intel-based products for the time being.

Apple’s new chip is the M1 processor. It initially debuted in three products, all part of the computing line up. The M1 runs on the 2020 Macbook Air, 13” Macbook Pro and the Mac Mini.

The M1 is a departure from the Intel x86 architecture. This allows Apple to streamline their ecosystem to work smoothly under a common architecture. That means the apps a user runs on their iPhone will be able to run natively on an M1 Macbook Pro or iMac.

There is no more need for developers to build different versions to support Apple’s variety of devices.

This means build once, run on any Apple device. This should also save developers time and resources since they no longer need to have different teams working with different architectures.

This was the plan all along, but even non-native M1 applications apparently run better than on an x86. It seems that the Macbook Air with M1 can outperform the 2019 Macbook Pro 16” during some tests.

That is mind blowing. The "Air" beating the "Pro" is like comparing a Civic to a Ferrari, if you look at it in terms of class. But when you put a souped up engine in the civic, it can beat the Ferrari (in theory).

In other words, the new Air is even better than older Pro models that don't use an M1 processor. At sustained workloads, I would have to say that the Pro (with updated cooling system) can still beat the new Air due to thermals.

The Pro is capable of much heavier lifting when it comes to video and audio production, as well as graphics design. The Air can quickly outperform the Pro, but when it comes to rendering TB of data, I would still have the Pro as the better workhorse.

Apple is always up for a challenge when it comes to creating their own. They did that with the iPod, followed by the iPhone and now their own line of processors. It even works brilliantly for backwards compatibility with older applications using an x86 instruction emulation engine Rosetta 2.

Despite that, the older applications still work the same if not better. Although you cannot expect Apple to suddenly drop prices, it seems that would eventually happen. I am not talking about their inventory of Intel-based computers, but for the next generation of M processor releases.

The next thing we can expect from Apple now are M series chips for their higher-end products like the Macbook Pro, iMac Pro and Mac Pro.

The next thing for Apple is to improve their Apple TV service to become more competitive with Netflix, AmazonPrime and Disney Plus. Even though Disney got Mandalorian, I don't care much about the rest.

I feel Apple can put more resources into their production of original content and talents to attract a larger audience. What they need is that "Stranger Things" moment and then some.Let us also not forget that the Apple Car is on going development, so that is another thing that might be bound to happen.


Created by

Vincent T

Involved in blockchain development and imaging technology.







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