Apple silicon trumps Intel's at every price point

From Joel Hrusku's "Apple’s M1 Positioning Mocks the Entire x86 Business Model" posted Thursday on Extreme Tech:

Apple is betting that the M1 is good enough to serve a much larger range of markets than x86 can typically address and that the M1’s innate performance is good enough to satisfy consumers at this range of price points.

If that doesn’t seem like a fusillade across x86’s metaphorical bow, consider the issue from a different perspective: According to Apple, the M1 is the right CPU for a $699 computer, and a $999 computer, and a $1,699 computer. It’s the right chip if you want maximum battery life and the right CPU for optimal performance. Want the amazing performance of an M1 iMac, but can’t afford (or have no need) for the expensive display? Buy a $699 Mac mini, with exactly the same CPU. Apple’s M1 positioning, evaluated in its totality, claims the CPU is cheap and unremarkable enough to be sold at $699, powerful and capable enough to sell at $1699, and power-efficient enough to power both a tablet and a pair of laptops priced in-between...

Apple’s willingness to position the M1 across so many markets challenges the narrative that such a vast array of x86 products is helpful or necessary. It puts Intel and AMD in the position of justifying why, exactly, x86 customers are required to make so many tradeoffs between high performance and low power consumption. Selling the M1 in both $699 and $1,699 machines challenges the idea that a computer’s price ought to principally reflect the CPU inside of it.

"Bingo," says Daring Fireball's John Gruber.

20 Comments

  1. Peter Kropf said:
    Batting next in the lineup…

    2021’s Rookie of the Year, Apple’s M2.

    16
    April 25, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Peter Kropf: Yes! M2 in the new redesigned iMac 27” screen that because of the redesign will actually have more screen space beyond 27”.

      13
      April 25, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Apple’s stock price is going to rise this year and next. Apple is a $200 stock price!

    16
    April 25, 2021
  3. Alan Trerise said:
    The M1’s impact on financials could be substantial. They are likely using technologies like voltage scaling to fit several power and performance profiles. Using the same silicon across several product lines increases volume and yield which brings the price to Apple down considerably. It also reduces design costs and bugs and shortens engineering cycles. The M1 replaces a stack of chips in Intel Macs while adding exclusive features. Thermal hardware is a fraction of Intel Macs. I can see the margins for the Mac moving much closer to the iPhone.

    16
    April 25, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      Better thermal efficiency also helps hardware reliability. That’s probably one reason why Apple extended AppleCare coverage for new Macs.

      11
      April 25, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Alan Agree! And good to see your comments. Apple also benefits by reduction in power supply needs, components and bulk, plus less power consumption is an environmental plus and selling point.

      I suspect that once Qualcomm or Apple 5G & modem chips become cheap enough or fully available respectively, Apple will push towards an almost connection cable free desktop environment, managing all data transfer between Apple and maybe other devices strictly by WiFi, 5G wireless, local Bluetooth, etc., whichever is available and can connect.

      7
      April 26, 2021
  4. Gregg Thurman said:
    The ARM architecture is RISC – Reduced Instruction Set Computer. Much of the tasks performed by Intel processors – Complicated Instruction Set Computer, is performed by the OS.

    ARM has been designing RISC chips for nearly 40 years. They know RISC. I believe Apple has been working towards this conversion since they dropped the PowerPC Processor, not just the chip, but the OS as well. That’s why overall performance, right out of the gate, is so impressive.

    I’m guessing Apple is at least 4 – 5 years ahead of MSFT, Intel and AMD. Think about that, when Dell, Lenovo and HP finally introduce ARM CPUs, Apple with be introducing M4 or M5 models (lighter, faster and no fans).

    16
    April 25, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      Right on.

      This is massive, way beyond what analysts see, especially as more high-end “pro” software and games migrate to Apple silicon.

      Continued….

      12
      April 25, 2021
      • Fred Stein said:
        More… Early RISC chips, MIPS and SPARC fell to Intel because Intel’s higher unit volumes allowed them to invest in silicon process to achieve higher performance per watt. The higher unit volume spawned an ecosystem of cheaper ancillary chips around the CPU to reduce system cost. Then, for the first decade of the 2000’s Intel’s chip pretty much ran ‘the cloud’.

        Now, Apple has the best foundry spending “a hundred billion dollars” (1) over the next three years. All those ancillary chips? They’re all part of Apple’s System on a chip. NO ONE CAN BEAT the Apple/TSMC pair.

        (1) Austin Powers.

        15
        April 25, 2021
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          (1) Austin Powers.

          A hilarious play on words.

          11
          April 25, 2021
  5. Gregg Thurman said:
    Much of the tasks performed by Intel processors – Complicated Instruction Set Computer, is performed by the OS.

    It’s hard thinking before my second cup of coffee.

    What the above was meant to say is “Much of the tasks performed by Intel’s CISC processors is off loaded to the OS”.

    Clean, tight OS code is responsible for much of the performance boost of a RISC processor. Windows could never be described as clean and tight. Intel’s CISC processors are doing the work required by MSFT’s bloated OS

    Think of it as the difference between carrying a heavy person across a wobbly bridge, and carrying a light person across a structurally sound bridge.

    15
    April 25, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      “Clean, tight OS code is responsible for much of the performance boost of a RISC processor. ”

      Actually, most of the performance boost of a RISC processor is due to highly optimizing compilers. It’s a common misconception that C is close to the machine (unless you happen to be running on a PDP-8 or PDP-11.) Better programming languages provide additional information for the compiler to do a better job optimizing the resulting machine code.

      Sure, bad programmers can write bad programs in any language…

      13
      April 25, 2021
  6. Duane Bemister said:
    Apple Silicon, Swift, and Privacy, all that is required now for world domination is an iPad mini, priced for the student, that works with the watch. Check out Blindsides 2.3 conferencing solution. Exciting times!

    https://bbb.allwestbc.com

    9
    April 25, 2021
  7. bas flik said:
    is it possible the M1 ends up in an iphone? i would love a M1 powered iPhone.

    12
    April 25, 2021
    • Troy Thoman said:
      They don’t need to… since they are designing the processors, they can custom develop the right chip for the right device. iPhone with smaller battery and less need for certain things, gets A#. Mac with need for high end graphics and machine learning gets A#. Maybe there is a pro or server chip coming or even an AI focused chip like NVIDIA makes, maybe they start making their own eGPUs, the possibilities are endless… I’m very excited to see the innovation that happens now that the concrete shoes that is Intel is gone.

      12
      April 25, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        maybe they start making their own eGPUs, the possibilities are endless…

        Or maybe Apple starts making its own cellular radios, oh wait, Apple (via its lawsuit settlement agreement with Qualcomm) IS already developing ARM based 5G cellular radios as we speak.

        Oh what exciting times we live in today.

        9
        April 25, 2021
  8. David Emery said:
    Some future M-x system will have a lot of the processing for communications refactored, as Apple internalizes the former Intel modem group. That’ll further reduce chip count and power consumption and increase efficiency. (The notion of ‘software defined radio’ can probably be extended to the system level to be ‘system defined radio with increasing functions factored across a high performing, minimal set of components glued together by software.’)

    11
    April 25, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Looks like David said it before I did.

      8
      April 25, 2021
  9. An update on AWS use of M1 Mac mini (Siri found this link for me!)
    https://9to5mac.com/2021/02/02/m1-mac-mini-in-the-cloud/

    Keep in mind there are other providers of M1 Mac minis in the Cloud: MacWeb, MacinCloud, Mac Mini Vault and MacStadium are just a few. Developers of apps for MacOS use these devices but other applications are growing. They’re not unlike bike rental kiosks or car sharing except a business or individual rents a secure Mac mini by the minute.

    8
    April 26, 2021

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