Apple’s proprietary system-on-chip

Apple’s proprietary system-on-chip (SoC) for driving Mac OS’ was introduced at Apple’s annual developer event WWDC2020 on the 23rd under the name of Apple Silicon.

“This is a historic day for the MacOS family,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Currently, Intel-based MacOS products are also being developed (in the pipeline),” he said. “It will take about two years for the (complete) transition to Apple Silicon.”

It is a big move that means macOS will support native iOS apps and macOS apps side by side on the new devices in the future.

Apple will release the first Mac with Apple silicon at the end of this year, and it plans for the full transition to take two years. New Intel-powered Macs are still in the pipeline.

To help developers prepare for the transition to Apple Silicon, the Developer Transition Kit (DTK) was provided with a Mac mini (monitor detachable desktop) with an A12Z SoC. The A12Z was first used in the iPad Pro, which was released earlier this year. In terms of performance, similar to the previous generation iPad Pro (released in 2018) SoC, the A12X.

“The first start was from the iPhone,” said George Srudge, vice president of hardware technology at Apple (SVP). Apple has developed its own SoC (A4) since the iPhone 4 in 2010. “In the meantime, the CPU performance of the iPhone has improved over 100 times,” said George Vice President.

The iPad, which used the SoC for the iPhone, was equipped with the A5X, the first dedicated SoC in 2012. “The A5X doubled the graphics performance by adopting a larger GPU and a wider memory subsystem than the SoC for the iPhone at the time,” said George. Compared to, it is over 1000 times faster.”

Apple is also using its own design SoC in the smart watch product ‘Apple Watch’. “We optimized the performance for Apple Watch’s unique low power needs,” said George. “It’s our plan to deliver higher performance with less power to the Mac family, and the reason for switching to a self-designed SoC.”

In the SoC design of Apple, packaging technology has been attracting attention. The fan out wafer level package (FOWLP) was used in the SoC design for the iPhone, and the system in package (SiP) was applied to the Apple Watch SoC design. Apple SoCs for Mac products are said to be assembled at South Korean packaging factories.


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