Over the years, Apple has consistently revealed how ARM-based chips in its mobile phones are accelerating the performance of the most robust silicon you’ll find inside laptops or desktops – in 2018, the company claimed that its new iPad Pro was faster than 92 per cent of notebook
But are Apple’s ARM chips powerful enough to replace Intel and AMD? This remains an open question because, at Apple’s 2020 World Developers Conference (WWDC), the company avoided giving us a definitive answer.
This time, the specific types of charts, benchmarks, and company claims for each new generation of “new and faster” ARM silicon were entirely MIA. Apple won’t talk about it when we ask. Even a predetermined conversation with one of your silicon architects doesn’t provide much information. Instead, the company showed a handful of canned demos and made some vague promises that the future could be faster.
Using the same Apple A12Z Bionic chip that it would find on the $ 800 iPad Pro, the company demonstrated that low-power ARM desktops can already handle a variety of advanced user applications on Mac, including:
Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Lightroom versions run natively in ARM
Three professional careers 4K video streams simultaneously in Final Cut Pro
A photorealistic movement around the stone face in Cinema 4D
AutoDesk’s Maya Animation Studio has over 6 million polygonal scenes, with textures and shadows across the top
Rendering effects in the Unity game engine
Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dirt: The Rally game is running smoothly on Mac (but with low resolution and details)
Also, Apple ARM Macs will be able to automatically translate some existing Intel apps to Apple’s Rosetta 2 conversion software: while looking a bit ugly, Shadow of Tomb Raider and Dirt: Rally this way They were walking, viz. Autodesk Maya. But, for the most part, it appears to be asking developers to trust that ARM will unlock “a whole new level of performance” without looking at how performance.
That is to say, if you build a Pro-size MacBook chip with a MacBats Pro-sized heatsink and case, as well as a Macbook-sized battery, then your iPhone processor theoretically has a lot of work to do. But it’s always true that ARM-based processors are more efficient than the competition, and scales don’t dump on their own. Accelerating a chip doesn’t just give it more juice: you have to design a fairly robust processor (or, for example, the world’s fastest supercomputer) around that efficient architecture and Apple.