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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I think a lot of the speed jumps from a 10 year old CPU to a modern one have to do with cache size and core counts. In my experience, single threaded processes tend to benefit most from higher clock speeds. I've had a 5 year old 3.5GHz dual core machine outperform a new quad core 2.4GHz machine at single threaded tasks, but the newer machine stomps the older on multi threaded tasks as expected.

I've also seen a measurable (but not quite noticeable) difference between similarly clocked machines with different cache sizes.

Given how most big commercial applications these days are still single threaded, we really won't see a huge jump in performance until that changes.

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