Why M1 Macs are so Fast 😍| Custom SoC and the Future

If you’ve been recently following the Apple product launches, you probably know the fact that the new M1 Macs have hit the ball out of the park.

They have outperformed every single laptop on the market and are so good that they’ve managed to grab a spot among the best performing CPU (including the desktop CPUs).

As technology is emerging and a lot of new things are coming up in gaming. In fact, gaming on the new Macs is finally possible! They have been able to achieve this because of Apple’s in-house silicon- The M1 chip but what makes it so special?

System on Chip (SoC)

What is SoC?

Instead of the traditional approach, where all the components of a computer are separately installed on a motherboard, what Apple has done this time is that they have brought together all components: 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, unified memory, SSD controller, image signal processor, Secure Enclave, on a single chip! (each of these components deserve an individual article).

This approach is known as an SoC (system on chip). At the same time they’ve also enhanced the performance of the individual components. 

SoC Architecture:

They have also switched from the traditional x86  instruction set (desktops -Intel, AMD)  to the ARM-based instruction set (used in smartphones and tablets).

This has made the M1 macs very power efficient but surprisingly they have also retained the computing power.

There are several benefits of this approach.

You can read more detail in M1 announcement from Apple.

SoC benefits:

Three things.

  • Apple is using a Unified Memory (UM) this time which helps the CPU and GPU exchange information faster. With the unified memory, the CPU and GPU have access to the memory at the same time rather than copying data to different places. (Also read, CPU vs APU- which is better?)
  • Another benefit of using a Soc is that it brings all the elements a lot closer, which significantly reduces the time that data takes to travel (even if they travel blazing fast).
  • Finally, make use of the Nvme storage in an interesting way. They call it virtual memory(VM). So when the system runs out of RAM, it can use the storage from the hard drive! That’s how crazy fast the Nvme storage Apple has used. RAM and graphics card both are important for gaming.

All this has contributed to immense success and performance boosts of the M1 Macs. Also given the fact that all the components are designed and manufactured in house makes it almost impossible for the other OEM’s to mimic this success.

Performance boost also gives great experience using M1 Mac for gaming. Along with Mac what all you need is gaming monitor. What you will experience is thriller. 😀

But still some of them have started on this path including Google!

Well, rumors suggest that the new Pixel 6 will come with their very own Google silicon and it’ll be very exciting to see how Google will take advantage of the technology given that it already rocks at the software part!

We have also seen some similar approaches from Samsung with the Exynos processors. But, I think it’s a far way to go for these manufactures especially in the laptop/desktop market and until then Apple will reap the fruits of its innovation🍎

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