2015 iPhone 6S A9 Single 552; Multi 1015
2019 iPhone 11 Pro Max A12 Single 1325; Multi 3437
2016 9.7” iPad Pro A9X Single 640; Multi 1181
2020 10.9” iPad Air A14 Single 1585; Multi 4194
2015 13” MBP i5 Single 761; Multi 1624
2020 13” MBP M1 Single 1692; Multi 7305
I was curious about the developments in computing power between these devices. I have all but the M1 MBP, and I daily use the others except the 6S. Between 2015 and 2020, we can generally see that this year’s Single Core scores out-pace 2015’s Multi-Cores.
Interestingly, the Intel 2015 MBP is about on par with the 6S, and is vastly out-computed by the A14, let alone the M1. The key difference, naturally, is that the A9X iPad uses one-third the power, and none of the Ax devices need a fan. Even without a fan, the M1 MBA outpaces both the Intel MBA and Intel MBP, again with no fan:
2020 M1 MBA Single 1748; Multi 7676
2020 Intel MBA Single 1182; Multi 2987
2020 M1 MBP Single 1559; Multi 7445
2020 Intel MBP Single 1203; Multi 4402
Intel barely compares with the A14 while using significantly more energy for similar tasks. This clearly illustrates the flaw of the x86 architecture, and reflects Apple’s core values – apart from just turning a profit: improving technology, making it a better tool, and rendering technology more accessible to more people.
All of Apple’s core products reflect this, right back to the original Apple I in 1976, best exemplified by the 1984 Macintosh, and proceeding with iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The progress of hardware underlying these standard-setting devices is paralleled by the software running on them.
All current Apple software originates from Steve Jobs’ NeXTSTEP OS from the late 80’s, a scalable operating system based on Unix and implemented by Apple as OSX in the early 00’s. By designing the software, and their own hardware since the late 00’s, Apple has gradually tailored both to each other and customer usage scenarios.
Through the years since 2010, iPhoneOS has diverged into iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, and TVOS, with the underlying software also applied to the T1, W1 and ISP subsystems. The amazing portability of this software has seen it coded for Intel x86, DEC Alpha, Power PC and ARM processors. Although the move to M1 is touted as another shift, iOS has been ARM-based since 2007: for Apple, this is more a case of how non-ARM coded software can run in emulation and transcoding, rather than a monumental shift for MacOS.
The results of Apple’s drive to bring better computing to more people has of 2020 resulted in the above leap in processing power with M1. Intel has been designing processors since the late 60’s, Apple since the late 00’s. Despite this 50-year head-start, Intels best chips are on par with Apple’s performance-capped Ax chips.
The leap from Ax to Mx clearly demonstrates the benefits to progress in computing by moving away from a commodity product. I’m interested to see how the M2 or the M1 Pro extend the gaming and professional-level performance of these systems.