Why Apple’s M1 Chip is a Real Threat to Intel and AMD

Apple last year launched its ARM based chip, the M1 SoC. M1 is the first desktop CPU to be made on non-x86 CPU architecture to challenge companies the PC market giants AMD and Intel. Apple not only diched Intel and reduced Intel’s market share. It also can be a serious threat to both companies in long-term. Before moving on let’s discuss what is ARM architecture and x86 architecture.

ARM vs x86 as quick as possible

ARM is a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) architecture while x86 is a CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) one.

The core difference between those in this aspect is that ARM instructions operate only on registers with a few instructions for loading and saving data from / to memory while x86 can operate directly on memory as well. Up until v8 ARM was a native 32 bit architecture, favoring four byte operations over others. Additional advantages of ARM is that

  • Lower board cost
  • Lower power
  • Easier manufacture
  • Smaller form factor

So ARM is a simpler architecture, leading to small silicon area and lots of power save features while x86 becoming a power beast in terms of both power consumption and production. To learn in-depth about ARM vs x86, comment down below and we will make a article on it.

Image Credit: GSMArena

M1 is an SoC not CPU

The M1 is actually not a CPU, its an SoC. Which means it does processing + graphics + IO + system memory, all in the same package. Apple actually had prototypes of M1 earlier but they waited until they could leapfrog the rest of the industry in terms of performance per watt.

Since apple had a decade-long experience working on specialized hardware for the iPhone, By applying some of those principles into desktop hardware, it’s brought on hardware-level optimizations to typical workloads which means M1 can be extremely fast for some tasks including JavaScript, encoding/decoding, image processing, encryption, AI, (and very clever of Apple), even x86 emulation. This reminds us of Intel MMX extensions of yesteryear, but on steroids.

How the M1 Threatens x86

The reason why M1 is a treat to Intel and AMD isn’t that Apple is going to dominate the PC market. In fact, Mac’s net market share gain is likely to be in the single digits, near-term.

The main problem for AMD and Intel is the design architecture. For past 25 years x86 has been dominating the market and all chip manufactures were using x86. But now for the first time in 25 years, a company without an x86 license is building a consumer microprocessor that competes with x86 chips and even beats it in some aspects. Being first generation of ARM chips it still out performs x86. As new generation of ARM chips come , it improves its position relative to Intel and AMD. This bought everyone’s attention to ARM. Firstly Nvidia, Nvidia recently purchased ARM regulator which is yet to get approval. Now Microsoft has also begin to make their own ARM based processors. It is expected that Intel and AMD can be put in a worse situation.

Previously Intel and AMD hasn’t needed to be concerned with what non x86 CPU manufactures were doing. Apple’s M1 and many follow-ups of different companies start to kill x86 market slowly now. And many companies going with cloud services it affects the processor market.

Long back Microsoft got Intel’s, but under Satya Nadella, the company has pivoted hard towards the cloud and cloud-based services and also Microsoft is building their own ARM based chips.

The long-term threat to x86 companies i.e Intel and AMD is the loss of mindshare, margins, and market power if x86 is no longer seen as the best processor choice. If that happens, Apple alone wont be a threat, many companies together would kill x86.

How does it affect consumers?

Consumers are not directly affected by M1. But in long term it may have an impact on our CPU choice. It is directly affect ultra portable higher end laptops like the HP Elitebook series, Dell inspiron series. It will also affect the software industry. When more people move from Windows to MacOS softwares are also likely to affect. More software would be written for ARM based chips.

Does it affect gamers?

To be short and sweet gamers, PC enthusiasts and PC builders are entirely unaffected. With upcoming new generations of ARM chips Apple can actually claim the best PC but even if they do, Apple’s ecosystem is not the same place where gamers live. In fact, for every user that will buy only Apple, there’s at least one that will never buy Apple, too.

So that’s it for today. Also do check it out our post on M1 MacBook. Do share this article and follow us on our socials for updates. Thanks for reading and Have a nice day!

Kevin Joe Harris

Tech enthusiast who loves to share his knowledge and express his thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *