How Apple and the M1 Chip Revolutionized the Entire Chip Industry

Nowadays, most people hate Apple and there are many reasons behind it, such as increasing the price of phones and accessories day by day, making phones intentionally unusable, holding the market aggressively, and so on. But even after so much, Apple is still contributing to taking the industry forward. Apple has managed to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop PCs. Apple has proven that ARM-based CPUs can beat Intel’s CPUs.

The main difference between phones and desktops is the processor. The processors used in the phone are commonly called ARM and the processors used in the desktop are called x86, x86 can be Intel, AMD, etc. To make ARM more efficient, the x86 was originally designed in a simpler way, and the x86 is designed for a bit heavier work, although things are changing now. And things are changing, as evidenced by the fact that today our phones can do different things faster than computers. Now the question may come to your mind if the processors of the mobile go close to the performance of the laptop or desktop, then what will be the processor of the laptop? My answer is, naturally those processors will get more powerful batteries, of course, there will be enough space to work. But many do not believe it, but it happened! And Apple has shown it.

Built with ARM-based M1 chip MacBook whose performance was outstanding. Internet reviews of MacBooks made with the M1 chip were great. It has been found that the battery backup of the MacBooks was very good even after a long time of use. M1-based MacBooks without a fan can do a lot of heavy work that lags on Windows without any hindrance. Many people think that these MacBooks are ordinary, but it was a great invention of Apple.

So in today’s analytical Article, I’ll try to show how Apple managed to build a MacBook with an ARM-based chip, and how Intel has made the biggest mistake in technology history by refusing to work with Apple.

Origin of Intel

To find out how Apple accomplished this, you need to know some history. Central Processing Units or CPUs are called computer brains. They make billions of calculations every second to get our devices running. And these CPUs basically do the work by following different instructions. The instruction is the data of the smallest bits so that the computer will know what to do when. Some instruction sets are input to perform the tasks on the CPUs.

And since the beginning of the battle between mobile and desktop CPUs, we have been trying to figure out how to make this instruction sets more efficient and easy.

Intel started its journey as a mainstream computer CPU in 1986 with Obert Noyce and Gordon Moore. They acquired the name x86 after the popular chip series in the late 60’s and early 80’s. And the x86 instruction set began to dominate the architecture market.

Since the 1980’s, manufacturers have begun to input more complex instructions into these x86s and limit the physical space of the chips, making it impossible for these chips to be used on other systems at once.

Origin of ARM

At the same time, in 1983, a company called Acorn Computer in the United Kingdom wanted to take a different path. They wanted to make things easier, not complicated. They went against Intel and came up with Reduced Instruction Set Computing or RISC technology. At the time, some experts were optimistic about the new technology, and some said it would not work. However, the RISC technology was later used in mobile phones Acorn RISC Machine or ARM chip.

In this Article, we understand RISC as Simple CPU or ARM and CISC as Complex CPU or Intel.

Acorn Computer built its first prototype in 1985 and the first ARM-based computer in 1986. ARM has since collected licenses to make chips for other manufacturers.

ARM chips were not suitable for use on desktop computers due to their low performance, but ARM was the first choice for portable devices. All companies from Nokia to Ericsson started producing phones using this chip.

Why ARM chips are Power Efficient

When we talk about computer CPUs, we measure them in Gigahertz, which means its clock cycle per second. This is different for the two types of chips. ARM chips run one simple instruction per hour cycle, while Intel chips run multiple complex instructions per hour cycle. As a result, Intel CPUs require more power supply, which is less efficient and produces more heat. If there are billions of cycles per second, think about the power supply and the amount of heat. On the other hand, since ARM runs simple instructions, it also requires less power supply which is quite Power Efficient.

At that time this Simple Instruction Set was great for Design or ARM, Engineering, and Graphics! Computers used this technology to create Jurassic Park, Toy Story, and some other graphics-based movies. CPUs were also used on game consoles such as the Nintendo 64. But the desktop market was still dependent on Intel.

Apple wanted to keep the CPUs of their devices simple

In 1991, Apple, IMB, and Motorola jointly created PowerPC, which relied on Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC). The funny thing here was the PowerPC desktop chip but it was made with a Simple Instruction Set. In the 90’s, Apple proudly used these chips in their computers. Later in 2001, the iPod used the ARM chip, which became very popular as a portable device. By 2002, there were 1 billion ARM chip devices from MP3 devices to mobile.

If Apple had advanced using ARM on portable devices, it would not have been able to compete with Intel with PowerPC because complex or CISC CPUs were ahead in terms of performance.

Apple entered into an agreement with Intel to capture the desktop market and started using Intel processors on MacBooks. When Apple signed an agreement with Intel in 2005, Apple realized what was coming next and what users would want! They wanted Intel’s chip for their iPhone. But Intel will never forget what happened then, as Intel’s then-CEO Paul Otellini turned down the offer, saying that the deal behind the phone might not work or that the cost of research and chip-making could not be raised by selling the phone. He had no idea what the iPhone was going to be in the future and he missed the great opportunity.

The rise of ARM through Apple

The first iPhone to make history was made in 2006 with ARM, CPU. If Paul Otellini had agreed to Apple’s offer, Intel might have owned a large part of Apple’s business today. However, without Intel, Apple started their iPhone journey.

In 2006, Apple purchased an architecture license from ARM, which allowed Apple to design chips for itself. At the same time, Apple bought Low Power chip designer PA Semi. And this strategic acquisition gives Apple the opportunity to compete with Intel.

In 2012, for the first time, Apple built their own custom-designed CPU called the Swift. The Swift is used for the first time on the iPhone 5. The great thing was the first generation chip but it was twice as fast as the previous iPhone.

The biggest shock in the industry came in 2013 when Apple made the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture. This chip is used in the iPhone 5s. Apple proves so efficient that they even surpass ARM’s core CPUs. The next ARM launched its 64-bit CPU on the Galaxy S4 in 2014. Apple then said it was building a desktop-class architecture. People didn’t believe it then, but ultimately that’s what happened.

In 2014, there were 50 billion ARM devices worldwide, from which the iPhone simultaneously gained skyrocketing popularity and received millions of dollars in dividends.

Looking at the A12 chip in 2016, it seemed that Apple might be catching Intel. Notice in the chart below that where Intel has increased their flagship performance by 26% in five years, Apple has increased it by 300%. If we notice, Intel’s Core i9 10900k chip was a desktop chip that needed 125 watts, and the A14 needed only 5 watts. Multiple YouTubers have won the A14 chip by checking the performance between these two chips.

Intel has lagged far behind in innovation over the years, while Apple is constantly moving towards all new innovations.

The new-look of the desktop computer through M1 and the victory of Apple

Now we will see the result of so many years of hard work of Apple! Their groundbreaking innovation and the only way to defeat Intel. In November 2020, Apple unveiled a new processor and placed it on a PC. Which is named M1. It has 16 billion transistors, which is 35 times more than the M14 used in the iPhone 12. Since it is an ARM-based CPU, the new MacBook can also run apps on iPhone and iPad.

Discussions, reviews are going on on the internet from this new MacBook release. In most of the reviews, YouTubers have been quite surprised by its performance.

If Apple kept their innovation going, we might not be able to imagine what the tech industry is going to get in the future. Commenting on Apple’s groundbreaking innovation, Anandtech said, “Apple claims the M1 is the world’s fastest CPU since their A14 chip has already beaten all of Intel’s designs and surpassed AMD’s Zen3, so we can accept Apple’s claim. Maybe Apple won’t be able to catch the power efficiency.

Disruption Technology and ARM

Clay Christensen discusses Disruption innovation in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma. He said that new technologies are basically part of Disruptive technologies. New technologies are basically created through existing technologies, combining the two into something that no one has ever seen before.

So notice that ARM chips have been around since the 1980s, although they are commonly used on smartphones, they were likely to be useful for use on desktops or laptops, but Apple proved it after so many decades. Steve Jobs always said at the time of his next computer launch that the lifetime of all systems or architectures is ten years.

Compatibility of M1

From all the reviews, it is known that the compatibility of the new chip is great! It is quite a powerful CPU. The performance of apps that weren’t specifically designed for it was also excellent.

Last word

The new M1-powered MacBook is remarkable in terms of innovation, even though it doesn’t have an upgradeable RAM or external GPU. It may be further improved in the future to add more benefits. Since Apple has done it so others will try to come up with something better to compete with which is definitely good news for users.

Copyright @ srraihan

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