Last year's M1 core MacBook was a "new product" bigger than the surprise of the iPhone 12.
On the other hand, the successful debut of the M1 chip also made the x86 camp accept a "cross-border strike" from arm chips, giving us an opportunity to think about the hardware design of personal computers and even the ownership of chip architecture.
Under the trend of multi platform convergence, is the future general computing field bound to x86? If we want to make better devices, which direction should chips develop? This will become a new proposition for major manufacturers.
Not long after the start of the new year, revelations about this year's new Mac followed. Many news have proved that Apple has been planning a comprehensive upgrade around the MAC after its self-developed chip.
On the other hand, facing the fierce arm, Intel, AMD and other manufacturers also put forward new directions for the future development of new technologies.
This year's PC market is bound to be very difficult to calm down.
How will the MAC change in 2021
The latest MAC forecast comes from two celebrities in Apple's news industry: mark gurman of Bloomberg and Guo Mingyu of Tianfeng international. According to the available information, the arrival of Apple's self-developed chip is likely to bring about a round of great changes in the new Mac.
This includes two core changes: reviving the MagSafe magnetic suction charging interface and removing the touchbar touch bar.
It's not new for MacBook products to move back the old design of many years ago. Earlier, the keyboard of MacBook also experienced the process of changing from scissor foot to butterfly type, and then from butterfly type to scissor foot.
This also proves that sometimes the new design is not necessarily better than the old design, the key is whether it can bring enough value.
The same is true of MagSafe. Its magnetic absorption is a design that can greatly improve the plug-in experience of MacBook power interface,The old users who have used it all know that it is good.
Here, the information also adds that "fast charging" may be a new reason for apple to revive it.
After all, with the advent of fast charging, the charging time of MacBook will be significantly shortened. Combined with the magnetic adsorption function of MagSafe itself, even if it is not a universal interface such as usb-c, I think most users will not refuse its return.
Let's analyze the touchbar touch bar. For many people, it's probably a design with "weak perception, it doesn't matter whether you have it or not.".
On the iPhone, there was a feature similar to its positioning, but it has been cancelled, called "3D touch".
To be honest, they are all very good innovative ideas, but they also have one thing in common, that is, interaction is too implicit, and they all need some learning costs.
As a result, the benefits they bring are not obvious, and it is difficult to replace the core operations such as sliding, keyboard and mouse.
Compared with the replacement of processors and graphics chips with Intel and AMD in the past few years, as well as users' complaints about interface, keyboard and other problems, the replacement of the self-developed MAC also gives apple the opportunity to make new changes to the appearance of the Mac.
It was mentioned in the disclosure that the new MacBook will adopt "a plane right angle design similar to the iPhone 12".
This also involves mold adjustments, but considering the excellent power performance of the previous M1 MacBook, Apple has no reason to follow the old design.
Last year's M1 MacBook basically copied the mold of the old model, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Picture fromiFixit
In addition, the long rumored new 14 inch and 16 inch MacBook Pro, IMAC similar to pro display XDR, and even the more compact Mac Pro are expected to appear one after another this year, and they will become a new batch of "de Intel" Macs.
What strategies will the Wintel alliance around Intel and Microsoft come up with to deal with the upcoming apple?
Architecture competition between arm and x86
Technology media AnandTech has produced a picture showing the performance evolution path between Apple's A-Series chips and Intel chips in the past few years.
From this, you can see how the gap between the two is gradually shortened, intersected and finally reversed by apple.
This is not to prove that arm is better than x86. After all, advanced manufacturing process and unique CPU micro architecture design are also one of the reasons why Apple's self-developed chips come from behind.
What's more, in the face of desktop computers with higher power consumption and server field, x86 still has its advantages, which is also an area that apple is hard to shake in the short term.
But a fact has been very clear: the chip based on arm is not as weak as we think when used in computer. As long as it is used properly, it can also be compared with the current high-end x86 processor to complete the desktop level work normally.
For many people, M1 MAC is also a sign of arm PC's maturity, which will greatly promote the development of arm ecology and win a third of an acre in the future PC market.
In principle, Microsoft has had the same opportunities as apple. In fact, it launched the attempt of ARM chip on Windows system earlier than apple. It also cooperated with Qualcomm to launch the customized ARM processor SQ1 on surface Pro X.
Unfortunately, the experience of this product is not satisfactory, and the transfer efficiency of X86 applications is not high. Other windows laptops that also use snapdragon 8cx chip do not have obvious advantages when compared with their own x86 products of the same level.
The windows 10 PC terminal with ARM processor actually appeared several years ago
Ecology may be the key reason. Considering that Microsoft has been rooted in the x86 software ecosystem for many years, it has not shown the same resolute attitude as apple in this attempt of arm architecture transformation.
This is not so much a technical problem, but more like a business shackle that the x86 alliance is hard to untie.
Over the years, the entire Wintel alliance has developed very mature. The whole chain not only has a large number of third-party developers attached to it, but also has OEM companies responsible for product development, Microsoft authorized by operating system, and chip manufacturers selling general-purpose CPU.
But from another perspective, this is also a huge burden for the x86 League. Do you want to support another platform in a highly mature ecosystem? Microsoft is hesitant, and other manufacturers can't find the motivation to move.
At present, at least on the chip side, the desktop ARM chip represented by M1 will not have a great impact on the market of Intel and AMD for the time being. Because PC users can't plug M1 into the motherboard of their desktop, and a lot of desktop work still needs to rely on the X86 platform to complete well.
Although they don't talk about it, the two manufacturers will not wait to die. Some measures around the structural reform have now slowly surfaced.
Intel, for example, has planned to launch the 12 generation core processor code named "alder Lake" in the second half of 2021. It will integrate high-performance core and high-performance core on a single chip at the same time, which is more like the heterogeneous design adopted by apple and Qualcomm when designing mobile phone chips.
This is also regarded by Intel as "a major breakthrough in the x86 architecture", depending on whether it can bring new competitiveness.
In the long run, if Apple's self-developed chip plan can effectively promote the market growth of MAC, or bring enough function subversion in the product end, manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei, which have the self-developed ability of ARM chip and have the business of pen and phone, will probably try to enter the market for ecological integration.
The transformation is doomed to be slow, so whether it is x86 holding fast to its position, or arm becoming stronger, or the two sharing the world equally, in the next few years, this struggle will bring many new changes.
The PC market is also recovering
An objective fact is that in today's PC market, devices with Intel and AMD chips and running Windows system are still the absolute mainstream, and the threat posed by MAC is extremely limited.
But the emergence of M1 has significantly boosted Apple's market share. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Apple's MAC shipment has achieved a year-on-year growth rate of 49.2%, which is the fastest growing brand in the top five.
Of course, it also benefited from the recovery of the PC market. Affected by the demand for home office and online learning, the whole PC market has turned in the past year and began to rise against the trend. Moreover, this medium and short-term demand has gradually penetrated into the mass consumer market itself.
Five years ago, most people didn't have the power to change computers, and it's hard to expect innovation.
Nowadays, it's a rare opportunity for PC processors, graphics cards and computer manufacturers, because a new round of PC upgrading is likely to come ahead of time due to the epidemic. Apple, with its own research achievements, will certainly try to eat more shares with the new Mac.
When the new platform competition situation appears, and the market demand becomes active enough again, the correlation effect will gradually appear. I'm not sure if this will lead to a new computer revolution, but I'm sure that personal computers have been silent for a long time, and it's time to make some changes.