Apple Aims to Run Up the Score

Apple Silicon with 20+ cores and 30+ cores, oh my…

Mark Gurman reporting on the state of Apple’s silicon for Bloomberg:

The current M1 chip inherits a mobile-centric design built around four high-performance processing cores to accelerate tasks like video editing and four power-saving cores that can handle less intensive jobs like web browsing. For its next generation chip targeting MacBook Pro and iMac models, Apple is working on designs with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores, the people said.

For higher-end desktop computers, planned for later in 2021 and a new half-sized Mac Pro planned to launch by 2022, Apple is testing a chip design with as many as 32 high-performance cores.

If you have yet to use one of Apple’s new machines with an M1 chip, you probably think the hype is overblown. I can assure you that it is not. I’m typing on one right now and this is by far the fastest machine I’ve ever used — so fast that even the simple things you didn’t think were slow before, like web browsing, are faster. It’s honestly sort of incredible, I had thought we were in a post-performance gains era on laptops. We were not.

And this is the M1 running on a MacBook Air with 8 GB of RAM. It’s an 8-core (4 + 4) chip. What Gurman is talking about is a 20-core chip (16 + 4) potentially coming soon. And then a 36-core chip (32 + 4 — well, presumably, who knows how many “efficiency” cores it would have) already in the pipeline. I can’t yet wrap my head around this chip, so I don’t even know what to do with that information. Other than to think Intel is screwed, that is.


Apple engineers are also developing more ambitious graphics processors. Today’s M1 processors are offered with a custom Apple graphics engine that comes in either 7- or 8-core variations. For its future high-end laptops and mid-range desktops, Apple is testing 16-core and 32-core graphics parts.

For later in 2021 or potentially 2022, Apple is working on pricier graphics upgrades with 64 and 128 dedicated cores aimed at its highest-end machines, the people said. Those graphics chips would be several times faster than the current graphics modules Apple uses from Nvidia and AMD in its Intel-powered hardware.

Admittedly, I have not done a lot of graphics work to put this current machine through such paces. And if there’s a weakness in this machine, I’m pretty sure that would be it. Perhaps the graphics are better than Intel integrated, but there’s no way they can compete with NVIDIA discreet, right?

Well, not yet, it may seem… 🤯

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