Apple has a clear performance advantage over Intel when it comes to laptop processors, and the move to M1 silicon has paid off for that. Even Intel itself agrees that it has been surpassed. Former Mac boss Jean-Louis Gassée and former Windows president Steven Sinofsky have dispelled any remaining doubts.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger reluctantly admitted that Apple’s silicon was “pretty good” and better than any Intel chip. However, there have been voices downplaying Apple’s leadership, saying, “Even based on Apple’s own performance estimates, the chip will be slower than Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake CPU.” In independently published blog posts, former Apple boss Jean-Louis Gassée directly dismissed the Alder Lake comparison, highlighting how speculation compares a current production laptop chip with an upcoming chip for desktops. Gassée said Apple was working on a faster desktop chip for the upcoming Mac Pro and that would be a fair comparison.
For context, Jean-Louis Gassée once directed Macintosh development, a role that Steve Jobs took on. At one time, he was strongly advised to become the company’s CEO. In his blog postHe rightly said that Intel has not successfully implemented the key to Apple silicon success – integrating all of the necessary components on a single chip.
“In the case of x86 devices, Intel’s SIP (System In a Package) is an admission of the inability to integrate all CPU organs into a single SoC (System on a Chip). As a result, SIP performance suffers from lower connection speeds, especially when compared to a fully integrated SoC. To the example, the memory transfer of the M1 Pro and Max reaches 200 and 400 gigabits per second, speeds that are unattainable with a SIP-CPU implementation. “
Separately, Steven Sinofsky called the M1-based MacBook Pro “an overwhelming innovation”. To bring you up to date, Sinofsky has retired as President of Windows after 20 years at Microsoft. His role meant he was well aware of the workings of Intel’s x86 microarchitecture and the challenges facing the operating systems that support it. This gives it an important and unique perspective on the success of Apple’s M1 line.
In his blog post Sinofsky told the history of Apple chips from the PowerPC to the M1. He compared Apple’s decision to ditch Motorola in favor of PowerPC processors with its decision to ditch Intel now.
“Apple was essentially dumped by a chip partner when its centerpiece for customers was a computer. That seemed like an impossible situation …
The M1 chip was an implementation of all iPad and iPhone work (sensors, OS port, security, power management, graphics and more).
Not only did the M1 aim to fix what was suffering from Intel, it also aimed at PPC. It has learned from the last ten years. “
Sinofsky reiterated that the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the new MacBook Pros can beat Intel and pretty much anything, not just performance.
“When you look at the M1 Pro / Max today, it’s tempting to look at this in terms of performance, but performance per watt AND integrated graphics AND integrated memory AND integrated application processors are innovation in a completely different direction …
The M1x capabilities of shared memory, SoC that is not only smaller but also has so many aux functions, ProRes, super fast SSD, even multiple TB ports – all of these things require deeply integrated software (from chipset to experience) . “
We’re inclined to agree with both Sinofsky and Gassée, because while Apple’s claims about the performance of the M1 Max and M1 Pro are a little off, the processors are simply miles ahead of their Intel and AMD counterparts. However, if you have the time, we highly recommend reading the engaging blog posts from these two great industry veterans.