Discussion Apple Silicon SoC thread

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Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,561
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M1
5 nm
Unified memory architecture - LP-DDR4
16 billion transistors

8-core CPU

4 high-performance cores
192 KB instruction cache
128 KB data cache
Shared 12 MB L2 cache

4 high-efficiency cores
128 KB instruction cache
64 KB data cache
Shared 4 MB L2 cache
(Apple claims the 4 high-effiency cores alone perform like a dual-core Intel MacBook Air)

8-core iGPU (but there is a 7-core variant, likely with one inactive core)
128 execution units
Up to 24576 concurrent threads
2.6 Teraflops
82 Gigatexels/s
41 gigapixels/s

16-core neural engine
Secure Enclave
USB 4

Products:
$999 ($899 edu) 13" MacBook Air (fanless) - 18 hour video playback battery life
$699 Mac mini (with fan)
$1299 ($1199 edu) 13" MacBook Pro (with fan) - 20 hour video playback battery life

Memory options 8 GB and 16 GB. No 32 GB option (unless you go Intel).

It should be noted that the M1 chip in these three Macs is the same (aside from GPU core number). Basically, Apple is taking the same approach which these chips as they do the iPhones and iPads. Just one SKU (excluding the X variants), which is the same across all iDevices (aside from maybe slight clock speed differences occasionally).

EDIT:

Screen-Shot-2021-10-18-at-1.20.47-PM.jpg

M1 Pro 8-core CPU (6+2), 14-core GPU
M1 Pro 10-core CPU (8+2), 14-core GPU
M1 Pro 10-core CPU (8+2), 16-core GPU
M1 Max 10-core CPU (8+2), 24-core GPU
M1 Max 10-core CPU (8+2), 32-core GPU

M1 Pro and M1 Max discussion here:


M1 Ultra discussion here:


M2 discussion here:


Second Generation 5 nm
Unified memory architecture - LPDDR5, up to 24 GB and 100 GB/s
20 billion transistors

8-core CPU

4 high-performance cores
192 KB instruction cache
128 KB data cache
Shared 16 MB L2 cache

4 high-efficiency cores
128 KB instruction cache
64 KB data cache
Shared 4 MB L2 cache

10-core iGPU (but there is an 8-core variant)
3.6 Teraflops

16-core neural engine
Secure Enclave
USB 4

Hardware acceleration for 8K h.264, h.264, ProRes

M3 Family discussion here:

 
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Solution
The reason Macs don’t have them is because Qualcomm charges Apple by the SKU entry price or whatever. It’d be insanely expensive and it’s too niche.

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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Let's see what exactly did the M1 Macs replace:

M1 MacBook Air
Core i3-1000NG4 1.1 GHz, Core i5-1030NG7 1.1 GHz, Core i7-1060NG7 1.2 GHz - 9-10 Watt Ice Lake (Geekbench 5 MC score ~ 3900)

M1 MacBook Pro
Core i5-8257U 1.4 GHz, Core i7-8557U 1.7 GHz - 15 Watt Coffee Lake (Geekbench 5 MC score ~ 4050)

M1 Mac mini
Core i3-8100B 3.6 GHz - 65 Watt (!) Coffee Lake (Geekbench 5 MC score ~ 3550)

Essentially what this means is that with the new M1 Macs, Apple has replaced all its Intel Macs in these form factors* that score in the GB5 MC range of about 4000 or less.

Even A12X from 2018 beats this 4000 threshold. And so does A14 non-X in the iPhone 12 Pro Max I'm getting this week. A14X/M1 should thoroughly trounce all these CPUs. Furthermore, this doesn't even touch on all the extra goodies on that SoC, that aren't measured by general benchmark tests like GB. GB isn't a good correlate to video editor scrubbing performance on iPadOS for example. iPadOS video editors often run much more smoothly than one might expect from those scores.

*There are still some entry level Intel iMacs that score in the ≤4000 range. Thus, I suspect that Apple will use M1 in the entry level iMacs as well.

BTW, how loud is that Core i3-8100B Mac mini?


It's also literally 1.5 years newer than AMD's Zen 2 architecture, which is far more efficient and performant at any given TDP than most of Intel's chips at low TDP. At the low TDP range, Renoir is pretty much just as much of a generational leap as this over Intel's parts in MT loads.

AMD didn't progress during the Bulldozer years because of poor management decisions. When a new architecture turns out bad, you're committing to it for at least 3-5 years until you can replace it with something better. Which is exactly what happened. Intel made little progression during the "Bulldozer years" due to poor management choices, and now they're suffering from huge process problems. AMD has someone else who can deal with figuring out the really difficult process problems, which helps immensely with manufacturing.
As mentioned, Apple doesn't care about Renoir here, and quite frankly, I'd say the vast majority of their target market doesn't care either. In fact, I'd say 99% of them don't even know what Renoir is. It would be stupid for Apple to focus on that.
 
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IntelUser2000

Elite Member
Oct 14, 2003
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Can x86 be made to be highly efficient? We'll find out.

Actually yes it can. It's been done before. Intel got pretty close. Yes it was middle of the road in terms of performance and battery power, but that did prove it was possible.

What didn't make sense with the Intel phone was people aren't going to buy a new phone from a 3rd tier vendor that doesn't stand out in any way and still needs emulation to run lots of apps.

So they had to give it up since it would take years, if not a decade for any chance in growing the market.

The problem with the Apple M1 for Intel/AMD is that it beats their high end cores while using fraction of the power. So with M1 you do get best of both worlds. Yes you can reach M1 level of performance with an Intel/AMD part but using 2, 3, 4 times more power.

Look at how wide the M1 cores are. I doubt neither Zen 4 or Golden Cove are going to match it. It'll take Zen 5/Redwood Cove at least.

that massive cache in Navi2 that saves a ton of power may prove extremely useful in an ultra mobile setting....

I kinda doubt they'll use a 32MB cache for that purpose when the die size it takes just for the cache will be large as a typical mobile GPU.
 
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Staples

Diamond Member
Oct 28, 2001
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I don't know if it has been asked before but from what I've read, no one is talking about what should be the obvious question. What software will even run on these things?
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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982
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I don't know if it has been asked before but from what I've read, no one is talking about what should be the obvious question. What software will even run on these things?
This was talked about at length in their event, and before too.

All of Apple’s software (both consumer and pro) will run natively through fat binaries. If not native, most third party applications will still be able to run in emulation through Rosetta 2 that does either JIT translation or else translates at install. However, many third party applications will also run natively via fat binaries. For example, Adobe Lightroom will be native this year. Some key applications that won’t run at all are ones like VM applications to run Windows x86, and of course Boot Camp won’t work either. Kernel extensions are also toast. I wonder what this will mean for my Citrix VPN client software.
 
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Schmide

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Mar 7, 2002
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We have this Apple M1 4+4 with huge cores. Then we have 8 big cores of the upcoming Cortex-A78C. Funny how the segment suddenly leapfrogged the lower hanging fruits of x86.

2 players doing big little 2 players doing only big.
 

insertcarehere

Senior member
Jan 17, 2013
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Actually yes it can. It's been done before. Intel got pretty close. Yes it was middle of the road in terms of performance and battery power, but that did prove it was possible.

What didn't make sense with the Intel phone was people aren't going to buy a new phone from a 3rd tier vendor that doesn't stand out in any way and still needs emulation to run lots of apps.

Indeed, Silvermont looked very competitive as an earnest attempt against ARM opposition back in 2013 but instead of further iterating on it Intel did nothing for years.

We have this Apple M1 4+4 with huge cores. Then we have 8 big cores of the upcoming Cortex-A78C. Funny how the segment suddenly leapfrogged the lower hanging fruits of x86.

4 huge + 4 small vs 8 medium cores, with how terrible the in-order ARM A55 cores are I am surprised the SoC players still stuck those things in their SoCs for so long, a hypothetical 6x A77 S865 would likely have higher performance and comparable/better power efficiency than the actual SKU we have today.
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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I think you misunderstand me. I think that M1 is likely very strong. It might not beat Renoir at everything MT or Tiger Lake at everything ST, but as an entire package my intuition says that this should be the best laptop chip out there by a good margin. Cezanne might upset that a bit, but will be disadvantaged by 7nm vs 5nm.

I'm not saying that Apple resorted to marketing BS because their product is weak. I'm saying I think the product is strong, but present the product in a way that reeks of snake oil makes it look weaker than it likely is since many people are primed to automatically discount this kind of marketing.

Well think about who the audience for these Macs is - it is existing Mac owners looking to upgrade. They aren't going to think the numbers are a bunch of snake oil, even if they seem a bit overly optimistic. What they'll hear is "these new Macs are a lot faster than my current Air/MBP13/Mini" and that's true.

The wider potential audience of PC users some of whom might be induced to switch for significant performance bumps aren't going to listen to numbers in an Apple marketing event no matter how detailed they were. Those people will only potentially give Apple a look after they see unbiased reviews like the in-depth stuff Anandtech does.
 

Midwayman

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Jan 28, 2000
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I'm way more excited about what a unified architecture will mean than outright performance. They mentioned running iOS apps native which is amazing if you're in that ecosystem as well. Hopefully it gets a lot easier to share things back and forth between your phone and mac.

I'm kinda wondering if the mac mini will run tvOS apps and if I can load the tvOS ui. Having a high end replacement there would be pretty cool as well.
 
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scannall

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Jan 1, 2012
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We have this Apple M1 4+4 with huge cores. Then we have 8 big cores of the upcoming Cortex-A78C. Funny how the segment suddenly leapfrogged the lower hanging fruits of x86.

2 players doing big little 2 players doing only big.
Kinda sorta. 2 players doing big and little. And 2 players doing SMT. But how is that a lot different? In the end anyway.
 

Leeea

Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2020
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The problem with the Apple M1 for Intel/AMD is that it beats their high end cores while using fraction of the power. So with M1 you do get best of both worlds. Yes you can reach M1 level of performance with an Intel/AMD part but using 2, 3, 4 times more power.

You sure about that? AMDs 7742 is pushing 64 cores 128 threads at 225 watts. That comes out to 3.5 watts per core, or 1.75 watts per thread.

Looking at Apples marketing, it is all "up to" speak and comparisons to old intel units. From what I could see, the old intel CPUs they were comparing against did not even break 2 gigahertz. The game they showed off is said to have been on low detail with noticeable frame jumps.

They have been proclaiming the death of x86 since before I was born. I suggest putting the brakes on the hype train and seeing what Apple actually has.
 

Gideon

Golden Member
Nov 27, 2007
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You sure about that? AMDs 7742 is pushing 64 cores 128 threads at 225 watts. That comes out to 3.5 watts per core, or 1.75 watts per thread.

Looking at Apples marketing, it is all "up to" speak and comparisons to old intel units. From what I could see, the old intel CPUs they were comparing against did not even break 2 gigahertz. The game they showed off is said to have been on low detail with noticeable frame jumps.

They have been proclaiming the death of x86 since before I was born. I suggest putting the brakes on the hype train and seeing what Apple actually has.
This is the baseline of what to expect (and one that they will break, as it's an IPhone). The Mac core has more 2 more big cores (working probably at a bit faster frequency), more L2 and better memory subsystem. Whichever way you slice it, it will be impressive:

111168.png
 

Entropyq3

Junior Member
Jan 24, 2005
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The wider potential audience of PC users some of whom might be induced to switch for significant performance bumps aren't going to listen to numbers in an Apple marketing event no matter how detailed they were. Those people will only potentially give Apple a look after they see unbiased reviews like the in-depth stuff Anandtech does.
I think good performance in a super light notebook with 20h of battery life might go a long way towards catching attention.
Given that the MBP has a 20% larger battery, and 10-15% longer advertised run time, I would guess the fan is largely there to ensure it doesn’t thermally throttle, rather than raise clocks a lot.

BTW, Eug, are you the same guy I used to see posting a couple of decades ago at Ars Technica? Although using a ”surname” back then?
 

Kocicak

Senior member
Jan 17, 2019
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The real kicker would be if the M1 was scalable. I am not sure if the term scalable is correct, I mean if you could put more of these in one system.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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I think good performance in a super light notebook with 20h of battery life might go a long way towards catching attention.
Given that the MBP has a 20% larger battery, and 10-15% longer advertised run time, I would guess the fan is largely there to ensure it doesn’t thermally throttle, rather than raise clocks a lot.

BTW, Eug, are you the same guy I used to see posting a couple of decades ago at Ars Technica? Although using a ”surname” back then?
Hmmm... I did used to post at Ars but not under my surname.
 

Leeea

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Apr 3, 2020
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This is the baseline of what to expect (and one that they will break, as it's an IPhone). The Mac core has more 2 more big cores (working probably at a bit faster frequency), more L2 and better memory subsystem. Whichever way you slice it, it will be impressive:

One of the odd things about Anandtech's tests is they run on the default memory profile. IE, they do not enable XMP profile. This effectively takes the 3600 MHz memory you would see on that Ryzen, and sets it to 2400 MHz. A 34% nerf. With Ryzen series, that also nerfs the infinity fabric, or internal cpu communication. The intel chip is supposed to run at 4267 or 3200, but running it at 2400 nerfs it by 44% and 25% respectively.

Normally not that big of a deal. However, in Spec2006, which is somewhat a memory focused benchmark, that is likely to effect things.

----

It is interesting to note that Spec2006 also seems biased to large cache sizes. I would point out the official spec result for Intel's 5775C. The 5775C has one of the largest CPU caches of all time, was very power efficient, and turned out a score of 66.3. In 2015. With Anandtech's test above, it seems the i9-10900k only scored 59 in 2020. Rather odd result, eh?

 
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Leeea

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The author of the Anandtech articule also states:
There’s been a lot of criticism about more common benchmark suites such as GeekBench, but frankly I've found these concerns or arguments to be quite unfounded.

Which totally dismisses the minor detail that testing the same computer with GeekBench on Windows and then Linux yields different scores. 24%* in one case I saw. wtf?

*went searching on the internet, but the largest variation I could find in less then 5 minutes was this one https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/13631495?baseline=13629401 at 13% variation between OSes.
 

moinmoin

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Jun 1, 2017
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Personally I think Apple move to ARM based Macs is vastly overdue (I did create a thread on this very topic due to that).

As such I'm less happy that they finally did it and more like disappointed how little they so far did with it. The whole event essentially ran with the unspoken premise: compared to Intel, which is essentially still stuck in 2015, with our whole current Mac product line along with it.

Until 2017/18 this alone could have still caused a huge wow effect. Since then the PC market (thanks to AMD) is changing rapidly, and much of Apple's messaging accordingly sounds like made within its own bubble.


They are comparing their new low end Macs to the previous generation low end Macs they replaced. Remember, M1 is their latest, but it certainly won't be their greatest, when it comes to their Mac lines. M1 is entry level.

As bad as that previous MacBook Air might perform, that's was actually the previous MacBook Air they sold.

As such, Renoir is completely irrelevant in that context.
But that's exactly the thing, that's not Apple's messaging at all. You pointed out yourself the additional notes to the performance claims. Using previous Macs, with however outdated tech, is fine. But then you have a couple mentions of unnamed "latest‑generation high‑performance [tech] commercially available at the time of testing" (which was last month) without any further information.
Comparison made against latest‑generation high‑performance notebooks commercially available at the time of testing.
Comparison made against the highest-performing integrated GPUs for notebooks and desktops commercially available at the time of testing.



In the long run all this will not matter much anyway. Independent benchmarks will show how well ARM Macs fares within the PC market. And Apple will follow up M1 with bigger chips, hopefully sooner than later. It's just a huge bummer Apple keeps bringing these low information extended commercial breaks meets telemarketing as events.
 
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Antey

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i love the fatalist posts about amd and intel. i remember when ampere was announced and everyone was in panic saying things like ''AMD has no future'', ''they won't even compete in the low end'', someone even made a post in r/amd saying that amd future was dark, etc, etc. i don't know how to name it, post announce panic?

well, fortunately, in the end, it wasn't that bad for AMD Radeon (like 1 month later they released something better than the 3090). i wouldn't be that worried about intel or amd, yes, apple cores are very wide, really good ipc, frequencies are not bad and so on, but, intel knows this, amd does as well.
 
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biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
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As far as I can see it is a bit like comparing pears to apples, so to speak. The M4 being a SoC it has all kind of extra accelerators that a normal CPU doesn't have. These accelerators help in specific workloads, but not in others. Being a brand that is known for video and photo work, it make good sense that Apple add specific accelerators that boost the typical work of a Mac user. I think it sounds like a really interesting CPU that makes good sense for many users. A typical CPU is a jack of all trades, master of none and that is still the case for x86 CPU's. I think it will be interesting if AMD and Intel will and work specific accelerators to their CPU's in laptops, beside the integrated GPU. Also there will be cases where 8 zen3 cores will be more powerful than the M1 (albeit at a higher TDP).
What also will be interesting is how apple will reform their Mac Pro workstation, and if these CPU's will be in systems with dedicated GPU's etc.

I wonder what the cost of this chip is. It can't be cheap.

I like hardware and competition, so the launch of M1 is good, but I won't switch to the techworlds answer to communist china. ;)
 
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beginner99

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Interesting but I will never invest in a closed system.

On that note the big gains most likley come from better performance rather than less power. Yes, they list better battery life but not much better given they are comparing ice lake based macs to their new m1 macs. Ice Lake wasn't clearly better in terms of battery life than 14nm products in contrast to Tiger Lake.

Ultimately apple is coming from mobiles into laptops while Intel/AMD are coming from server into laptops. Eg. apple chip is geared to consumer use while x86 are geared for server use. Huge, wide cores with excellent ST performance make sense for consumer products. But how far will they scale?
My point being as Apple "creeps" up the device range to higher power, their advantage will diminish. Is it coincidence we aren't seeing any compilation benchmarks? All the video/image stuff could be accelerated by a custom chip/core/dsp on the SOC like QuickSync on intels side.
 
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dacostafilipe

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Oct 10, 2013
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I was no fan of the ARM transition and the release yesterday did not help.

We will oder a unit for testing, but compared to the 6-core 32GB Mac minis we have at work, this is not that impressive.

I hope the improved ST performance makes up for the 16GB limitation.
 
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Qwertilot

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Nov 28, 2013
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They're not replacing those models yet. That's for their next wave. This is entry level and cheap.

That the CPU is so fast and capable in a number of ways can conceal that a bit.