The most shocking aspect of Apple’s new M2 Pro and M2 Max CPUs, as well as its new MacBook Pros and Mac mini based on them, is not that the company released them all in mid-January. It’s that Apple can do all of this simultaneously. It’s an approach that is undoubtedly the envy of the majority of platform, chip, and system firms, and it’s yielding enormous returns for customers.
Apple has unequalled control over the entire stack, from the silicon to the system to the operating system to the ecosystem. It makes announcement days like this possible and nearly guarantees that the new MacBook Pros and Mac mini will appear on our respective lists of best laptops and best PCs.
Microsoft can manage the platform and hardware with its Surface Pro line, but the vast majority of these machines will be developed and marketed on Intel’s newest Core processor. Microsoft and the Snapdragon developer construct custom S3 silicon for always-connected hardware as part of the Qualcomm initiative (see my Surface Pro 9 5G review). However, this is the exception rather than the rule for Microsoft.
Except for the Mac Pro, Apple has migrated its entire hardware lineup to Apple silicon. It fundamentally waits on neither individuals nor partners to develop and provide its most recent systems.
Intel and Nvidia collaborate with partners to incorporate their next CPUs and GPUs, respectively, into the newest hardware, and the timing is frequently within months, weeks, days, or even hours of the silicon partners unveiling their latest offerings. Nonetheless, techniques are as diverse as system configurations. Nobody in these relationships has direct authority over the most recent Windows 11 build.
Apple, though, makes everything appear effortless. It continually generates new, more potent, and energy-efficient versions of the M-series semiconductor. Almost three years have passed since Apple debuted the first MacBook Air with its new M1 chip. This CPU debuted just three months after Apple’s announcement that it will switch its whole Mac lineup to its own hardware. At the time, I was astonished by the speed, but now I consider it a given that Apple will release new M-class CPUs and systems that run them simultaneously.
And it’s not only the coordination; Apple is also making remarkable strides in performance and energy management.
Do not assume that a company with only three years of silicon experience can offer CPUs capable of operating Pro- and even enterprise-level software and procedures. As I noted in 2020(opens in new tab), the M1 chip’s headroom for such an energy-efficient CPU was astounding. The first chip competed effectively with Intel’s desktop-class CPUs.
Now, Apple is releasing variants of the original M1 design that are 20% to 40% quicker than earlier generations, at least according to Apple. For certain mission-critical processes, they are also faster than Intel’s top-tier Intel Core i9 CPU.
And because Apple began with what is basically a mobile CPU design, Apple silicon is typically more power-efficient than the majority of Intel and AMD CPUs.
The promised 22 hours of battery life for a system (for the M2 Pro 16-inch MacBook Pro) is not unheard of (especially for those based on Qualcomm CPUs), but the level of performance, which Apple claims will remain the same regardless of whether the device is plugged in or not, is amazing.
Even in the area of compatibility, Apple has been able to allay key concerns thanks to the Rosetta 2 app translator and its close partnerships with a number of the industry’s leading creative tool developers (I see you, Adobe). I’ve never encountered a non-functioning M-class Apple system in all the years I’ve used them.
Clearly, Apple’s dominance extends to the platform and ecosystem. And it’s no accident that everything runs so nicely on Apple-based systems. Apple designed macOS to support all components and apps that operate on it.
My point is that nothing feels patchwork-like. It is always a cohesive system from top to bottom. It is also a significant competitive advantage for Apple, as it offers a level of cohesion unmatched by, say, the Windows ecosystem.
It is a formula that is almost blindingly obvious. Almost full control is advantageous for your product line and your customers. It also indicates that Apple will continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future.