Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Jan 2018 23:35 UTC

For several years, Apple has been steadily designing more and more of the chips powering its iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches. This creates a better user experience and helps trump rivals. Recently the company got a fresh incentive to go all-in on silicon: revelations that microprocessors with components designed by Intel Corp., Arm Holdings Plc and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. are vulnerable to hacking.


That original “system-on-a-chip” has since been succeeded by increasingly powerful processors. Today, Apple packs its devices with custom components that process artificial intelligence tasks, track your steps, power game graphics, secure Face ID or Touch ID data, run the Apple Watch, pair AirPods to your phone and help make Macs work the way they do. The result: a chip powerhouse that could one day threaten the dominance of Qualcomm Inc. and even, eventually, Intel.

Apple's chip business really puts the company in a unique position. No other phone or PC maker can rely on such a powerful chip division, with the exception of Samsung, but Samsung's own ARM chips are nowhere near as powerful as Apple's. Assuming Apple manages to turn their chip prowess into real-world advantages for users, it'll be hard for competitors to catch up.

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Do you think Apple just feeds the blueprints into a machine and a CPU magically pops out?

It is quite reasonable to assume to that the vast bulk of the engineering process is converting a design into a working product - just like in every other engineering field.

The cynic in me thinks that a lot of Apple's engineering efforts are primarily for PR purposes and that most of the complex engineering work is done by suppliers. Tim Cook has already said that it would be impossible to build Apple devices in the US due to a lack of engineering skills.

I'm sure there are half a dozen companies that could make chips just as good. But then Apple couldn't boast about the (alleged) superiority of their own designs.

Edited 2018-01-31 08:49 UTC

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