How did “Apple chips” save Mac computers from stagnation?

Apple had a problem with Mac sales. While iPhone sales were very high, Mac sales were stagnant as customers were unhappy with its design and performance.

Now, five years later, Mac sales are growing and the turnaround is due to a tremendous, multi-year effort to build one of the most advanced chip design processes in the world.

Apple, in collaboration with Intel, launched Apple’s semiconductor division, and the goal of this risky venture was to replace the INTEL processors that had powered Apple laptops and desktops for 15 years with chips manufactured at Apple’s factory.

These so-called M1 chips are the most energy efficient from Intel and have enabled Macs to run faster and generate less heat, paving the way for Apple’s line of computers and the company has now gained control of a key component in the same time. when a chain crisis has caused supply disruptions in the chip market.

The American Wall Street Journal said the chips, designed by the company’s engineer and general manager Johnny Srouji, who had already designed the chips that power iPhone devices, helped Apple improve the profitability of its smartphones and computers, and also enabled Apple to think With extra futuristic products like cars or augmented reality headphones.

The fourth and final version of the M1 chipset is the M1 ULTRA, which first appeared last month and entered the design of advanced Mac devices aimed at video and graphics professionals.

Apple’s experience has prompted other tech giants to mimic Apple’s approach, as Tesla, Amazon and Meta are working to produce their own chips amid widespread competition between them for the specialized computing needs of self-driving cars, data centers and virtual reality, and in the meantime, suppliers are getting mixed up. Chips are changing their strategy in response and are investing heavily so that they can produce chips that other companies have designed.

After Srouji joined Apple in 2008, he initially designed chips for the iPhone based on Apple-specific device needs, and his approach allowed for a more powerful and efficient chip than using a ready-made chip from a supplier.

Srouji noted that many details are important for using a battery-powered device that is used for hours and involves many heavy-duty tasks in the processor, such as video and games, and he explained that Apple’s special chips for devices iPhone, which began production in 2010, worked to increase battery life and allowed With better software integration to improve other features like camera.

Pursuing its chip manufacturing strategy has made Apple a giant in the semiconductor world, according to Wayne Lam, an analyst at CCS Insight, who estimated that Apple’s spending last year on its semiconductors ranks it as the company of the second largest chip in the world. from income ..

In 2017, when Apple was making huge profits from its iPhone, Apple and H devices, it was facing a lot of complaints from customers about its Mac line.

Then Apple did something that other companies rarely do. Apple executives held a press conference, apologizing publicly for all the shortcomings of their high-end Macs and promising better products already at work.

Criticism went beyond Apple’s high-end computers, and months later, new laptops featuring Intel chips were criticized for poor performance, and Mac sales stalled compared to iPhone sales, which account for about two-thirds of revenue. of the company.

In the end, Apple decided to extend its iPhone chip strategy to include Mac devices, building a scalable silicon architecture from which chips are made on the iPhone to those used in computers, and Apple developed the technology so that the Mac could equipped with M1 chips can use software developed for Mac computers.

Over the years, Apple has spent billions on investment, research and development, and acquisitions of smaller companies to increase chip production.

The emergence of the Corona epidemic was one of the biggest concerns that threatened to disrupt the years of preparation for the debut of the M1 chips in 2020, but the chips passed final verification and were discovered in November 2020.

The first computers to be classified as M1 chips were the MacBook Air and Mac Mini, which went on sale, and in 2021 the chips were used in high-end computers carrying the PRO and MAX series, as these devices included the first M1 chip. . with 16 billion transistors.

That number doubles with the latest versions of the M1.M1 Ultra, which contain 114 billion transistors and contain a processor unit that is eight times larger than the first version.

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