Apple has been doing some of the most interesting work on CPUs in recent history, making significant leaps year over year. One of the secrets of Apple’s recent success on iOS is that it’s in completely control of both the OS and CPU which is the reason why it is the only platform to make the transition to 64bit only. I really think that if Apple can keep up this pace, then it makes an Apple ARM CPU based “laptop” inevitable. I think it is unlikely that Apple would switch away from Intel entirely for quite some time, but I would not be surprised to see at least one “laptop” like device that is ARM only as early as next year. The thing that I’m most unsure of is will it run iOS or MacOS, especially considering MacOS can run “iOS” apps already, and I only expect that to get better over time. The main hold up is Apple hasn’t transitioned MacOS to 64bit only, but that should happen with the next MacOS release. Regardless of the future of MacOS on ARM, I think Apple would be smart to consider an iOS based “laptop” with a touchscreen aimed at the premium chromebook market, and there is no reason they couldn’t deliver that today with the current A12 CPU.
I also think we might see a more traditional MacOS laptop that runs both an ARM CPU and an Intel CPU as early as next year. This is in some ways just taking what Apple is already doing with the T2 further, but with the actual OS able to do compute or run apps on both.
In a similar hybrid CPU twist, the new iPhones actually contain an Intel x86 CPU: https://twitter.com/cynicalsecurity/status/1040611124784312321
I really love anandtech’s analysis of the new Apple CPUs, which really set the stage for what is possible now and in the future:
“Apple claims the new CPUs perform around 15% better than last year’s A11 Monsoon cores – here it seems the company’s marketing was a tad conservative as the real performance figures of the new CPU are significantly higher.” [seems like Apple is quoting the minimum performance improvement]
“The take-away here is that Apple’s caches are just immense, and the A12 further expands in that regard by doubling the system cache size. In practice, we have around 16MB of useable cache hierarchy on the part of the big CPU cores – a massive amount that just puts the memory and cache subsystems of competing SoCs to shame.” [only some of the Intel i9 CPUs have a greater L3 Cache]
“Apple’s microarchitecture seems to far surpass anything else in terms of width, including desktop CPUs.”
“Apple’s SoCs have better energy efficiency than all recent Android SoCs while having a nearly 2x performance advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised that if we were to normalize for energy used, Apple would have a 3x performance efficiency lead.”
It really seems like Apple has the best CPU in terms of performance efficiency (performance per watt) of any CPU (not limited to mobile). This means Apple could definitely get even better single threaded performance with less thermal and power constraints, and could get better multi-core performance just by adding more cores. If iPad Pros come with a higher core count A12X CPU, then they could be monsters, and this is why I think Apple selling an Apple ARM CPU based “laptop” as soon as next year is very likely.
Read the full review here: https://www.anandtech.com/show/13392/the-iphone-xs-xs-max-review-unveiling-the-silicon-secrets