Apple embarrasses Intel

“A key reason why the pace of Mac hardware updates has slowed in recent years can be placed in the hands of Intel. As they fell behind releasing new silicon, Apple was left without the parts they needed to do proper refreshes,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “True, Apple did allow the Mac to languish way beyond the release of new Intel parts.”

“That takes us to this year’s iPad Pro refresh, with Apple’s A10X Fusion chip. It’s an interesting design, with six cores, three of which operate at high power, and three of which operate at low power to improve battery life. The GPU has 12 cores,” Steinberg writes. “But none of that matters, except how it impacts performance. Here, performance for single core tasks is 30% faster than the previous version, according to Apple. For multicore tasks, it’s 82% faster. More to the point, Apple claims that the new iPads are ‘more powerful than most PC laptops.’ Intel take note!”

“If you consider the pace of growth, it won’t be long before Apple’s chips speed way beyond the best Intel has to offer,” Steinberg writes. “Even if the Mac doesn’t make another processor switch, a future iPad or a convergence computer of some sort may do things far quicker than you might expect.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By all accounts, the new Apple A10X Fusion-equipped iPad Pro models are startlingly fast!

LAPTOP reviews Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro: Amazingly fast performance beats most Windows laptops – June 12, 2017
Apple, a prodigious chipmaker, has some major competitive advantages – May 31, 2017


    1. Whether Apple will switch or not has other implications like working with Boot Camp or a Parallels/Fusion that would work on the ARM chips.

      Intel had better step up to the plate, or Apple will be taking over the laptop chips in house.

    2. A-series Macs: NO.
      – – We killed off that concept here at MDN several times in the past. (I won’t be responding to comment requests. Just leave it dead please).

      Apple Graphics cards: An interesting idea.
      – – But the problem is that Apple has no current control of the standards and would have to lease them from the current GPU designers/manufacturers. There have been lots of requests for Apple to buy AMD.

      1. I can use an Intel chip to run dozens of versions of OS X, Windows, Unix etc.
        I don’t think it’s asking too much for an A series chip designed by Apple to run Apple OS X (even if Derek Currie says otherwise).

        1. The concern isn’t whether Apple can have OS X run on their A-series chips, the concern is that you’d no longer have x86 compatibility…which means no easy/native way to run the various x86 OSs you mention. Current Intel Macs can natively run any major OS on the planet. Switching to processors that aren’t x86 native would prevent any of that.

          Sure, if you want to spend cycles converting x86 instructions to mostly equivalent A-series instructions at runtime, you could…that’s how the early Intel Macs ran PowerPC apps for a while under Rosetta.

          You can debate how beneficial the native x86 support is for your specific needs, but Mac use exploded after the Intel switch. They became well designed PC hardware with incredible software not available on other platforms. It was one less reason not to switch–you had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

          1. Many of us simply want the option to run OS X on an iPad. Apple’s Intel based laptops don’t need to be discontinued for that to happen.

            Not everyone wants to carry multiple devices. It’s been 10 years and Apple is just now getting around to features like drag and drop on iOS.

      2. How does/did AMD produce knock-off Intel x86-compatible CPUs?

        Didn’t they license the x86 capability from Intel, or something like that?

        If so, why couldn’t Apple cut a similar deal with Intel, considering the fact that Apple is making their own CPU silicon like AMD was?

        Or, perhaps it would only take a subset of the x86 codebase that would allow a specialized A-series chip that could run real OSX apps?

        Or, how about a VM that has a Rosetta-like capability of sorts or uses actual x86 code to run OSX in a separate window?

        Or, an upgradeable iPad and/or Macbook that can host TWO CPUs simultaneously, allowing either hardware to run both iOS and OSX operating systems native?

        Enquiring minds want to know . . .


  1. There are so many reasons for this. As gene mentioned Apple does not have an embedded code base to support. There is that RISC vs CISC thing that the A series chips use, and even tith 6 cores the A series chip is much simpler than a Kaby lark processor. Will apple make laptops from A series chips? Probably won’t happen as emulated x86 code will never run as fast as native intel silicon. But perhaps as gene wrote, it doesn’t matter. Foryself, my favorite computer is my iPad Pro 12 and I look forward to trying out the new iPad Pro 10. Maybe the computer of the future will really be the iPad.

  2. The chips certainly need a lot more to test them otherwise they would be better off reducing the speed improvements and concentrate on battery life but that would be counter intuitive and risk losing their lead in the following years. Sitting back on siri wasn’t a great decision as a guide, so methinks that power will start to be tested pretty soon, perhaps as early as next year.

    1. As long as you aren’t running WINDOWS, you don’t NEED Intel compatibility as long as the app is recompiled. Apple is phasing out 32-bit support so the code base in all Mac apps will be relatively fresh and should be able to be recompiled for A-series. Also, Intel is facing the limits of conventional chip design. Apple (and others) have started to diversfy, adding specialty processors for motion, secure enclave, and things like the touch bar. They’ll continue to add specialist processors because the one size fits all generalist processors are reaching their limits. They are so dense with components that it’s extremely hard to manage the heat and power, so they have to keep a huge portion of the chips unpowered at a given time. It’s one of the reasons you see ARM (including Apple) moving to processors with split functionality with a mix of high efficiency processors and high performance processors. Apple is said to be working on the Apple Neural Engine specialized processors for AI and machine learning.

  3. I doubt the need to emulate x86 would ever be needed.

    iOS was developed from Mac OS X (mac OS, whatever) and both use variants of xCode to develop applications. It seems to me that were Apple to move Macs to A Series Chips the developers would bring the OS X Code to the needs of the A Series Chipsets.

    1. Apple needs to move on, Intel is holding Apple back, when you control the hardware CPU and the OS you can go far beyond Intel’s pay grade, Apple has finally come to the point were phone modems need to be done in house and they are planning to do their own. No different than GPU’s.

    2. Yes, and Apple has said that was their fault and is fixing it. The iMac Pro is the first part. Then (hopefully next year) will be a completely new Mac Pro. Say goodbye to the trash can. The top people at the Mac team said they believed the industry would be heading in a different direction with GPU. As inventive as the cylinder MP is with it’s quite cooling system it could not handle the heat if it had one big GPU instead of two smaller ones. They said it did take them awhile to swallow their pride and start over.

      You won the argument. Stop complaining.

      1. Very nice summary of the foofaraw. In the meantime, I am happy with my whisper-quiet cylinder Mac Pro, being careful however not to use it for protein modelling or gene sequencing.

  4. It would make sense to use the A series processors in MacBooks, as those machines aren’t built around performance, and so aren’t the best for Boot Camp and Windows emulsion anyway. Apple could realize major savings and improve performance by stating that MBs aren’t for Windows users. There’s a chance that it would fracture the user base, of course, but there’s an equal chance that they could get Windows to run in macOS with emulation like Parallels. Either way, this move would make a LOT of sense…though I’d love to see them put the A processors in more of their machines.

    1. NO.

      And Parallels doesn’t use ’emulation’. It uses virtualization. Please look them up to compare the profound difference.

      If Apple dumped Intel and went all A-series CPUs, there would be NO MORE virtualization. Gone. Drastic speed compromises would result from x86 emulation. Not gonna happen. (No, I don’t respond to comment requests regarding this dead issue).

  5. Nobody is forcing Apple to stay with Intel, Apple says that isn’t going to change. Intel is mainly for the PC market anyways and always will be, I don’t think Intel really cares either way, no big loss of business if Apple ever drops them since Apple can’t get hardware out in any decent amount of time. So too bad fanbois….

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