After Apple M1, Intel can no longer “squeeze toothpaste” at will


Apple M1 YES!

AMD and Apple have been very popular recently. AMD’s Ryzen series of chips are selling well. According to the latest data from PassMark , a data research organization, AMD and Intel’s processor market share in the Q4 quarter of 2020, AMD accounted for the total share 37.8%, which is the first time this level has been reached in the past 14 years.

And Apple's recently launched M1 chip, Geekbench multi-core running score surpassed the 16-inch MacBook Pro equipped with i9-9980HK processor.

In contrast, Intel’s image in public opinion is somewhat embarrassing. In the past few years, because of the small performance improvement between multiple generations of CPU, it is more expensive than AMD’s CPU, and it has been ridiculed by users as a "toothpaste factory."

How did Intel, the former PC leader, "lag behind"?

Step by step, step by step

Compared with Apple's M1 chip and AMD's latest Ryzen chip series, Intel's most ridiculed is the backward CPU process. The Apple M1 chip has already used the 5nm process, and AMD’s desktop-level processor Ryzen series has also used the 7nm process.

On the other hand, Intel, although the low-power version of the 11th-generation Intel Core processor for notebook products has reached 10nm, the current high-performance desktop processors are still stuck at 14nm, and the 10nm desktop processors will be available in 2021. No wonder it was ridiculed to "squeeze toothpaste."

This is related to the tick-tock strategy implemented by Intel, which has been implemented by Intel since 2007. Tick and tock once a year are processes to reduce energy consumption, reduce heat generation, update processor architecture, and improve performance, respectively.

In other words, it takes two years for the processor developed and produced by Intel to have a big performance improvement. The original model is still acceptable to most consumers. After all, most people's computers will not be replaced every year, but the transition is at 14nm. In the process of 10nm, this mode failed.

Intel is too pursuing high transistor density during the development of the 10nm process stage. According to a foreign media zdnet report , the transistor density of Intel's 10nm products is even similar to that of TSMC's 7nm products. Such a high transistor density is not easy to achieve, which also leads to Intel’s low yield rate in real mass production. As a last resort, it has to continue to optimize 14nm, and the Tick-tock mode is therefore invalid. The process of updating once every two years becomes For 3 years or even longer.

The reason why the low-power version of Intel’s 10nm processor we are seeing is not too far apart from that of AMD’s 7nm low-power version is that the transistor density of Intel’s processors is high enough and single-core performance. Strong enough.

In addition to the production yield problem, the IDM model that Intel insists on also has a certain impact on its entry into the 10nm process. In the semiconductor field, Intel is one of the few companies that design, produce, and sell itself.

AMD and Apple are mostly responsible for their own chip design, and the manufacturing process is handed over to TSMC. As the new generation of EUV technology gradually matures, TSMC produces 7nm process chips with a relatively good yield.

And because it can accept orders from multiple manufacturers, including Apple and AMD, the cost per chip is significantly reduced under the scale effect.

▲ TSMC. Picture from: Associated Press

Under Intel's strategy of self-production and self-sales, although the design and production coordination can ensure higher performance, the 10nm process is difficult to produce, which slows its progress. New processes cannot be produced, and products such as processors and server chips must be sold. These must be supported by R&D personnel.

The processor is a field with extremely high technical thresholds, the supplementation and development of R&D personnel is not so easy, and the cost of building a factory and R&D is extremely high.

With high R&D costs and scattered R&D resources, it is no wonder that Intel cannot catch up with the same process progress of Apple, AMD, and TSMC in a short time.

During this period, TSMC is also a role that cannot be ignored. AMD-designed CPU chips can quickly enter the 7nm process field without the help of TSMC. Even Intel CEO Robert Swan said at the earnings conference that they are also evaluating third-party foundry and independent production.

Compared with the backward process, Intel should be more vigilant about the rise of ARM

The dispute between Intel and AMD has evolved in the PC industry for decades. Both sides have their own advantages. This time AMD is catching up after the weakness. The impact of their struggle on the entire PC industry is almost predictable. Yes, even if AMD grabs 37.8% of the processor market share, it is still far from Intel’s 62.2%.

▲Data from: PassMark

The ARM chip represented by Apple M1 enters the field of personal computers, and the meaning is completely different.

For a long time, ARM architecture chips are mostly used in mobile phones and Internet of Things. A14 and Snapdragon 865 chips use ARM architecture. Therefore, for a long time, ARM processors have been labeled as medium performance in the public’s mind. , Good battery life.

▲ Detailed multi-core running score comparison between M1 chip and other products. Data source: wccftech

But now it’s different. The performance of the M1 chip that Apple has added to the new MacBook Pro series is already strong enough, and the performance on the Mac even exceeds the low-energy version of Intel’s 11th-generation Core i7 processor and Intel’s high-performance desktop-level processing The i7-10850H is approaching.

After the M1 version of MacBook Pro was launched, after some bloggers’ tests, using Apple’s own FCP software to edit and output, the time is much faster than the Intel version. Even if it is optimized by Apple’s own software, it is so high The improvement can also prove that the ARM performance is strong enough.

▲ Blogger @ Sydney顾俊's test of M1 chip version MacBook Pro

Of course, ARM's leadership in running scores and video scenarios does not mean that the M1 chip can lead Intel's processor products in all application scenarios.

At present, the M1 chip is only used in the entry-level Mac series, and there is still a certain gap compared with Intel's high-performance processors.

It's just that many things that can be done with Intel X86 architecture processors can now be done with M1 processors with ARM architecture, and some are even better.

The ARM software ecosystem is also making up, and Adobe also started the ARM version software beta test shortly after Apple released the new MacBook Pro.

Microsoft's Office is also the first batch of supporters of software changes, and even Blizzard announced that "World of Warcraft" version 9.0 will add support for Apple's M1 chip. As time goes on, the ARM ecosystem will be predictable step by step. perfect.

Compared with the X86 architecture processing, the ARM processor that uses a reduced instruction set has the advantage of hardware energy consumption. The reason why the MacBook Pro is called "the best Mac in history" is the energy consumption advantage brought by ARM.

And this time, Apple has also added support for iOS and iPad native software. As long as the corresponding software developers provide updates, consumers can run mobile applications such as "Honor of Kings" on MacBook Pro equipped with M1 processors.

This is undoubtedly a great enrichment of the Mac's software ecosystem, which is similar to the Win10 Universal App platform introduced by Microsoft before. It unifies multiple platforms, reduces the difficulty of development, and has a better software ecosystem.

The personal computer market has never been a purely competitive market for hardware performance, and software content is equally important.

In the past, ARM failed to obtain admission to this market due to performance restrictions, but today it has shown its ability to compete at the poker table with the support of Apple's M1 chip.

▲ Picture from: wccftech

In terms of software ecology, although it is not perfect now, with the support of manufacturers such as Microsoft and Adobe, the speed of software adaptation is beyond imagination.

What's more, on the consumer side, the software used by most people will not be separated from the three categories of communication software, browsers, and Office. MacBook Pro with ARM architecture can also use mobile software, which is compared with the previous computer software ecosystem. In all, it is a great improvement.

In the face of Intel, represented by X86-based processors, ARM's offensive performance is unprecedented in the computer market. After Apple announced the migration of the Mac to the ARM ecosystem, some insiders also said that the advantages of ARM notebooks will prompt Windows camp manufacturers to switch to the ARM ecosystem .

Compared to AMD's grabbing market share, Intel should be more vigilant about the rise of ARM.

Competition is actually a good thing

The current situation is indeed extremely unfavorable for Intel, but it has not yet reached the point of collapse.

As the hegemon of the PC industry, whether it is the Wintel alliance with Windows or the alliance with many notebook manufacturers for many years, Intel's advantage is not only reflected in performance, it also has high barriers.

In the professional field, Intel still has an advantage that ARM chips can’t match. For now, although M1 has advantages in the face of Intel processors of the same level, Apple has not been able to respond to higher-performance products. According to the plan, the ARM processor versions of high-performance products such as iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro have not yet appeared.

As for when they will appear, it is not only related to the performance of ARM hardware, but also depends on the support of the corresponding industrial software. Adobe also said that software such as Photoshop will not be adapted until next year. After all, most users who buy these high-performance Macs , The main purpose is to complete production through various applications in the industrial field.

In addition, the hardware acceleration technology jointly launched by Intel and Adobe is also attractive to corresponding users, such as the Intel hardware acceleration encoding/decoding technology on Adobe Premiere Pro.

It’s even harder to say that the industrial software adaptation of complex and expensive 3D rendering software like Clarisse iFX or even the drawing simulation of the construction industry is not so strong. The relationship is more stable, and there are not many software choices for consumers in the industrial field.

Another area that is more difficult for ARM and even AMD to cross is games. Intel has established a closer relationship with the entire industry chain. Many games are specifically optimized for Intel series CPUs.

The popular stand-alone masterpiece "Total War: Three Kingdoms" a while ago, after optimization, the number of game soldiers that can be displayed on the same screen can be increased by 6 times.

Finally, there is compatibility. This is an old-fashioned question. Let me talk about a real case I have encountered. Because I have some understanding of computers, I often have friends who ask me how to buy a suitable laptop. Once someone asked whether computers with AMD processors would encounter software compatibility issues.

Although the main reason is that this friend is not familiar with laptops, the AMD processor with X86 architecture is still so, not to mention ARM, especially the software update speed is slow in China, and some office systems even use IE browser to log in , Windows +X86 processor is obviously a safe choice.

The high barriers composed of the industrial field, professional software, compatibility, and strong binding of Windows will still maintain Intel's position for a long time, and it will still have a battle in the general consumer field.

AMD is like a climber on this barrier, grabbing market share from Intel, while the ARM chip-based Mac is more like an attacker aiming to break the barrier, trying to break through the barrier and build a larger ecosystem. Now Cracks have appeared in this barrier, and ARM will hit it again and again.

Under the two-phase attack, the impact on Intel is unprecedented. In recent years, we can also see the speed of change of Intel has increased greatly, and the 10nm low-power version of Core processors has also come.

Even the new integrated graphics Xe upgraded on the 11th generation Core processor, according to the test of foreign media wccftech , its graphics performance is close to the entry-level discrete graphics NVIDIA MX350, which is not achieved by the integrated graphics in the previous Intel processors To new heights, the newly launched Evo certification also hopes to systematize the product standards of Windows computers and reduce the difficulty of consumer decision-making.

For consumers, AMD’s positive progress and the impact of Apple’s M1 are actually good things. Only competition can promote product progress. Intel’s progress and changes in recent years are the best proof. It needs to come up with better products. Fight against the invasion of AMD and ARM.

In the future, Intel may no longer be able to "squeeze toothpaste" at will.

The title picture comes from: wccftech

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