When Apple announced its first Apple Silicon system on a chip, the M1 made an industry-wide statement that its new Macs would offer more to consumers than any other laptop available.
Direct competitors have taken notice, and it looks like AMD will be countering silicon with silicon.
AMD has taken the PC world by storm with its popular Ryzen processors. The Zen 2 and Zen 3 architectures laying the foundation for their latest chips have rocketed performance levels far beyond Intel's, and at a much lower cost to consumers.
AMD’s Ryzen innovations found their way into laptops with their mobile Ryzen offerings. These have lowered the prices of Windows laptops while providing a welcome upgrade to performance.
Now that AMD has established itself as a leader in the x86-64 processor market, rumor has it that their next step may include a custom ARM-based processor. Sound familiar?
ARMed for a New Era
To compete at the level of Apple M1, competitors like AMD will have to think differently.
The M1 is optimized for Apple’s ecosystem and macOS, and not everyone can bring together custom in-house SoC designs with their own operating system.
AMD had plans for its own custom ARM chip based on the ARMv8-A platform in 2016. It was to be called the K12 Core, but the project was put to rest before it ever saw the light of day.
Now, many rumors indicate AMD has continued ARM architecture research and development beyond their initial K12 idea. Perhaps it was scrapped because it wasn’t ready at the time or didn’t perform to their standards.
Regardless, it sounds like the recently unleashed M1 has rekindled a fire within them, and they could be coming out with their own ARM-based answer to Apple Silicon.
According to leaker Mauri QHD on Twitter, AMD’s M1 countermeasures will include one chip with integrated memory and another without it. This would be interesting and would provide buyers with an additional option they can’t currently get with Apple M1.
x86 emulation on Windows for ARM isn’t the smoothest experience, and optimization in that department is still in its infancy.
If AMD were to hypothetically work together with Microsoft to expedite the process, there could be room for the kind of in-house collaboration and software optimization necessary to follow in the footsteps of Apple M1 and macOS 11 Big Sur.
It's just an idea.
With AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, slated to host a virtual keynote at CES on January 12, 2021, we could soon get an answer as to whether AMD will traverse the same ARM road as Apple.
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Apple Silicon is finally here! The 2020 MacBook Air is built around the all-new M1 processing chip. The first-ever ARM-based Apple-exclusive chip features an 8-core CPU with four performance cores, four efficiency cores, 7-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. All these upgrades make up the most powerful MacBook Air ever. The latest silent, fanless design boasts up to 16 hours of battery life.
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