If you were skeptical about how good Apple Silicon would be on launch, you weren’t alone.
In switching over from Intel chips to its own processors, Apple was opening out a huge surface — both hardware and software — to show-stopping bugs. But now that Macs powered by M1 hardware have hit the streets, we can all see that they are everything that Apple said they would be — the Mac experience, but without the Intel processors.
Sure, there have been a few glitches — such as Google Chrome crashing in a spectacularly fast way, and iPad apps needing some work — but these are far from show-stopping.
M1-powered Macs blow away their predecessors in so many ways — from performance to power consumption. The M1 wasn’t just “good enough,” they were jaw-droppingly good.
And these are first-generation chips.
So, what does the future hold?
Let me whip out my crystal ball and make a few predictions as to what we’ll see happen over the next couple of years.
First, we’re at the beginning of exponential performance growth.
Forget what we’ve been seeing from the chipmakers over the past decade. We’re at the beginning of serious performance-per-watt growth.
We’ve seen the performance of Apple’s A-series chips for the iPhone and iPad double yearly, and I expect to see Apple Silicon take a similar aggressive path (something which should be worrying for companies like Intel and AMD — but let’s come to that at a later time).
Another limitation that I see disappearing over the coming months is the 16GB RAM limit. Like I said, the current crop of M1 chips were more than good enough for the launch, so this wasn’t a launch priority for Apple.
But with high-end pros wanting more RAM, I can’t see Apple not giving them this (or selling them this, for a reassuringly large sum) very soon.
Graphics is another place where I see Apple making significant headway over the coming years. There was a lot of commentary during the M1 launch about Apple not offering discrete GPUs in any of the systems, but I think this was by design and how Apple intends to move forward.
It’s clear that with the shift to M1, Apple doesn’t want its Macs to be a mishmash of chips and wants it all to be in-house.
It makes sense.
I’m also now convinced that Apple will be able to kick Intel out of its high-end Mac Pro and iMac Pro systems over the next couple of years. To accomplish this, Apple will need to make Apple Silicon ready for workstation workloads, and those chips will be a completely different animal to their current chip, but seeing what they’ve delivered out of the gate with M1, I no longer think this is beyond the company.
And this will be another blow for Intel (and AMD), and could open up new opportunities for Apple.
And performance aside — and what an aside that is — the move to Apple Silicon will bring Devices and Macs closer together, allowing more integration between the two platforms.
And there I was thinking that processors had become boring!