The Apple Fall 2020 Mac Event Live Blog: 10am PST (18:00 UTC)


12:55PM EST – Today Apple is expected to pull the trigger on new ‘Apple Silicon’ Macbooks. Years in the making, today we should be hearing about a lew of new devices from the Cupertino company which ditch x86 processors in favour of their own in-house designs.

12:55PM EST – We don’t know exactly what Apple has in store for us, but an upsized chip variant of the A14, maybe an A14X, is going to be a likely bet. Whatever Apple presents today, following the event, expect an in-depth microarchitectural exploration of the A14 and the Firestorm cores – with us attempting to put into context Apple’s big bet on Apple Silicon and how the competitive landscape might look like.

12:56PM EST – It goes without saying that Apple’s transition from x86 to Arm chips is a significant move. Not one without precedence (see: PPC->x86), but a major one none the less. Not even Apple changes CPU ISAs frequently

12:57PM EST – Just as in 2006, Apple is coming to a crossroads in terms of CPU performnace. Long-time supplier Intel has struggled to keep moving forward. Meanwhile Apple’s in-house team, responsible for developing their A-series chips for iOS devices, have been able to put together increasingly powerful hardware

12:58PM EST – In fact it’s outright surprising in some respects how far Apple has come

12:58PM EST – Apple’s latest CPU cores have IPCs higher than Intel’s chips, and while IPC isn’t everything (clockspeed matters as well), it’s evidence of a very strong architecture design

12:59PM EST – So for as messy as an ISA transition is, it’s one that makes sense for Apple. They think they can do better than Intel’s chips, and they’re probably right

01:00PM EST – In fact there’s little Iif any) doubt in the hardware side of matters. The bigger question on everyones’ minds seems to be the software side: backwards compatibility, bootcamp, x86 virtual machines, etc

01:00PM EST – And with that said, here we go

01:02PM EST – Starting as always with Tim Cook

01:02PM EST – This is Apple’s third major event in two months (we’ve noticed, Tim!)

01:02PM EST – Cook is quickly recapping the past two announcements: iOS 14, macOS 11, new iPhones, iPads, and Watches

01:03PM EST – “There is just one more thing”

01:03PM EST – “It’s time to talk about the Mac”

01:04PM EST – Apple’s Mac business grew by 30% last quarter

01:04PM EST – Now rolling a video celebrating Mac users

01:05PM EST – “The Mac has always been about innovation and bold change”

01:05PM EST – Now recapping this summer’s announcement of the Apple Silicon transition

01:06PM EST – That day is finally here

01:06PM EST – Now up, John Ternus

01:06PM EST – For the past several years Apple has been working on building the next generation of Macs

01:07PM EST – At the heart of this is Apple’s SoCs, also known as Apple Silicon

01:07PM EST – Announcing their first chip designed specifically for the Mac

01:07PM EST – Apple M1

01:07PM EST – Designed for low-power, portable systems

01:07PM EST – Now up, Johny Srouji on M1

01:08PM EST – “M1 delivers a giant leap in performance-per-watt”

01:08PM EST – With M1, Apple doesn’t just have their own chip, but they’re able to go SoC-style and integrate what was previously multiple chips into a single chip

01:09PM EST – Built on 5nm

01:09PM EST – And offers a unified memory pool

01:09PM EST – 16B transistors

01:09PM EST – 8 core CPU: 4 perf cores, 4 efficiency cores

01:09PM EST – “World’s fastest CPU core”

01:09PM EST – 192KB I-Cache, 128KB D-Cache, 12MB L2 cache

01:10PM EST – Meanwhile the efficiency cores have their own 4MB L2 cache

01:10PM EST – “World’s best CPU performance per watt”

01:11PM EST – M1 delivers 2x the performance of the “latest PC laptop chip” at 10 Watts, the MacBook Air’s TDP

01:11PM EST – And 3x performance per watt elsewhere

01:11PM EST – Now on to GPUs

01:12PM EST – Johny is talking up the benfits of an integrated GPU versus a discrete GPU

01:12PM EST – 8 GPU cores

01:12PM EST – 2.6 TFLOPs; nearly 25K threads at once

01:12PM EST – Again 2x performance versus an unnamed PC laptop chip

01:13PM EST – M1 has a neural engine as well with 16 cores

01:13PM EST – And Apple’s latest secure enclave

01:13PM EST – Thunderbolt/USB 4 support

01:14PM EST – “M1 is by far the best chip we’ve ever created”

01:14PM EST – macOS Big Sur has been built to maximize M1

01:15PM EST – Now up, Craig Federighi

01:15PM EST – Recapping everything introduced in Big Sur

01:15PM EST – And wasting no time into getting into what the M1 Macs will be like

01:15PM EST – iPhone-style instant-on

01:16PM EST – Safari is 1.9x more responsive

01:16PM EST – And once again bringing up the unified memory architecture

01:16PM EST – Which means Apple doesn’t have to copy data around from the CPU memory pool to the GPU (or in reverse)

01:17PM EST – Craig is also touting better battery life

01:17PM EST – iOS-style security is also coming to the M1 Macs

01:17PM EST – (For better or worse)

01:18PM EST – Apple has of course optimized all of their Mac apps for M1

01:18PM EST – Universal apps will offer binaries for both x86 and Arm processors

01:18PM EST – So the same app will run on all Macs

01:19PM EST – Developers in turn will be bringing universal versions of their apps

01:19PM EST – Big Sur also has Rosetta 2 to run x86 apps on M1 Macs

01:19PM EST – Apple claims some programs even perform better under Rosetta 2 on M1 than they did x86 Macs

01:20PM EST – And M1 Macs can directly run iPhone/iPad apps

01:20PM EST – Now rolling a video about apps that have been updated for Arm

01:23PM EST – Developers talking about what they’ve been doing with their dev kits (at a very high level and rapid paced)

01:23PM EST – Back to John

01:24PM EST – Now introducing the Macs themselves

01:24PM EST – First out of the gate: the new MacBook Air (with M1)

01:25PM EST – Now up, Laura Metz

01:25PM EST – MacBook Air is Apple’s most popular Mac

01:26PM EST – Up to 3.5x faster CPU than the previous-generation MBA

01:26PM EST – Up to 5x faster graphics performance

01:26PM EST – Up to 3x faster than the best-selling Windows laptops in its class

01:27PM EST – 9x faster machine learning performance than the previous MBA

01:27PM EST – Even the SSD is 2x faster. M1 has its own storage controller, and Apple is using the latest flash technology

01:27PM EST – And the MBA is now fanless

01:28PM EST – Up to 18 hours of video playback; 6 hours longer than before

01:28PM EST – And 2x the battery life on conference calls

01:28PM EST – Laura is also touting the M1’s ISP to offer better front-facing camera image quality

01:29PM EST – P3 wide color support for the display

01:29PM EST – (No idea if Apple has actually improved the physical camera, however)

01:29PM EST – Starting at $999 (and $899 for education)

01:29PM EST – Up to 16GB of RAM, 2TB of flash storage

01:31PM EST – Next up: Mac Mini

01:31PM EST – Julie Broms to present the M1-powered Mac Mini

01:32PM EST – Up to 3x faster CPU perf than the previous quad-core Mac Mini

01:32PM EST – 6x faster graphics

01:33PM EST – Up to 5x faster than the “top-selling PC desktop”

01:34PM EST – The Mac Mini does have a fan

01:34PM EST – But this means it’s capable of sustaining its performance

01:34PM EST – Two USB-C supports with Thunderbolt and USB4 support

01:34PM EST – Can even drive Apple’s XDR display

01:34PM EST – Starts at $699

01:35PM EST – $100 lower than the old intro price

01:35PM EST – It’s notable that Apple isn’t clarifying whether this is Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4

01:35PM EST – “We’re still not done”

01:36PM EST – The MacBook Pro 13-inch is also going M1

01:36PM EST – Shruti Haldea to present the 13-inch MBP

01:37PM EST – 5x faster graphics

01:37PM EST – (I’m really curious what the TDP is like)

01:38PM EST – As with the MBA, Apple is talking up all of the creative tasks that can be done with the laptop, and the benefits of an NPU

01:38PM EST – The MBP has a fan, of course

01:39PM EST – 17 hours of wireless web browsing, and 20 hours of video playback (10 hours more than before)

01:39PM EST – Also has “studio-quality” mics in a 3 microphone array

01:40PM EST – And like the Mac Mini, it can drive the XDR display at full resolution

01:40PM EST – Starting at $1299 ($1199 education)

01:40PM EST – Up to 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD

01:41PM EST – “The ultimate expression of what the M1 chip can do”

01:41PM EST – Now back to John, recapping the benefits of M1 and Big Sur

01:41PM EST – Performance, battery life, and security

01:42PM EST – All three Macs available for order today

01:42PM EST – They will be available next week

01:42PM EST – Meanwhile macOS 11 Big Sur launches this week

01:43PM EST – Recapping that the Arm transition will take a couple of years to complete

01:43PM EST – And one last video to roll before turning things back over to Tim Cook

01:45PM EST – “The M1 chip is by far the most powerful chip we’ve ever created”

01:45PM EST – Cook is expressing his pride in Apple’s product teams

01:46PM EST – Looking forward to 2021 and “bringing even more amazing experiences”

01:46PM EST – John Hodgman is back

01:46PM EST – Apple is back to not being a PC, after all

01:47PM EST – And that’s a wrap! Check back a bit later today for our A14 deep dive, and what we expect from the M1



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