Up to three Macs coming with T-series security chips, shift to Apple CPU inevitable

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Over the years, Apple has amassed personnel and materials to become a chip design juggernaut, with a new report claiming that Apple is including the T-series chip in forthcoming Mac models including a laptop refresh and a new desktop model, and has its eyes on replacing Intel as the supplier of the Mac CPU.




In an account published by Bloomberg on Monday, the push started in 2008 when Apple bought chip manufacturer P.A. Semi. The acquisition led to the design of the A4 processor, popularized in the original iPad released in 2010.

However, just the purchase of P.A. Semi wasn't enough to kickstart Apple's ambitions in the space. Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji also joined Apple in 2008, and his leadership not just in Cupertino, but also in Herzliya, Israel has led the way.

Apple has custom silicon in most of its products released over the last two years. The AirPods and some Beats models have the W1 wireless chip. The W2 is in the new Apple Watch, with the S-series chip used as a System in a Package (SiP) since the creation of the device.

The iPhone and iPad continue the run of Apple-designed processors, with the 2017 iPhone 8 family and iPhone X sporting the A11 Bionic processor.

Even the last two Mac models released have Apple-designed chips controlling security and other functions. The MacBook Pro refresh has the T1 chip to control the Touch Bar and Touch ID, with the iMac Pro amping up what is controlled with the T2 chip managing nearly every aspect of the boot process, security of the microphone and camera, amongst other functions. Apple's iMac 5K and iMac 4K refreshes at the 2017 WWDC did not include a T-series processor.

Bloomberg claims that there are "at least three" updated Mac models with custom co-processors coming as soon as this year, including updated laptops and a new desktop according to "a person familiar with the plan. Bloomberg also believes that "it's just a matter of time" before Apple silicon is used as a processor in a Mac, supplanting Intel for the first time in over a decade.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Unless Apple Buys AMD - which is cheap - then Apple will not be making Intel compatible CPUs for Macs.

  • Reply 2 of 34
    Keep in mind Bloomberg's Mark Gurman also said Apple Watch 2 would definately have a camera for FaceTime, and that this was a key, necessary feature for selling watches. It's not remotely news nor timely reporting that Apple is making its own silicion. Typical recycling of known facts and baseless speculation from an anynomous self-described expert sold as a Bloomberg "report."
    king editor the grateracerhomie3propodjbdragontmayschlackmacxpresschiaksecJWSC
  • Reply 3 of 34
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,858member
    The interesting tidbit here is a reaffirmation that Apple is committed to designing security into all of its new and major-redesign macOS hardware platforms. The Apple designed T series chips are obviously one of the enabling technologies for delivering this quality. 
    schlackrepressthisfastasleepstantheman
  • Reply 4 of 34
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,031member
    The part of the report that claims Apple will put ARM-based, customized silicon in future portable and desktop Macs is something of a no-brainer. As Daniel points out, the speculative part that Apple will soon drop Intel is (allow me to use the technical term) cuckoo bananas. These ARM chips are secondary and supplemental in nature, not doing the heavy lifting, and that’s a great role for them. I could certainly imagine a MacBook (not Pro) someday running on a “A15” chip in a few years as the primary processor, sure ... it and the MBA are light-duty machines. But not In the pro and desktop line, at least in the foreseeable future.
    repressthisfastasleep
  • Reply 5 of 34
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 110member
    I worry about a future where the security chip only allows Macs/iPhones/iPads to run Apple supplied operating systems, and the device is old enough that Apple no longer provides security updates.

    At least with a current Mac, you have the option of switching to Linux, once your hardware is old enough that Apple no longer provides security updates.
    croprrepressthis
  • Reply 6 of 34
    GG1GG1 Posts: 215member
    Unless Apple Buys AMD - which is cheap - then Apple will not be making Intel compatible CPUs for Macs.

    Would AMD's x86 licensing transfer in the event of a purchase? I don't know.

    When Apple moved to Intel years ago, the Intel compatibility (for Windows) was a selling point (for businesses) for Mac hardware, but I doubt it is as big a selling point NOW vs. THEN. I'm sure Apple know their audience, so maybe Apply may shed Intel compatibility when they think the time is right, even if it leaves a few people stranded.

    As more applications move to the cloud, the OS becomes less of a feature/differentiator.
    repressthisrandominternetpersonjony0
  • Reply 7 of 34
    birkobirko Posts: 60member
    chasm said:
    The part of the report that claims Apple will put ARM-based, customized silicon in future portable and desktop Macs is something of a no-brainer. As Daniel points out, the speculative part that Apple will soon drop Intel is (allow me to use the technical term) cuckoo bananas. These ARM chips are secondary and supplemental in nature, not doing the heavy lifting, and that’s a great role for them. I could certainly imagine a MacBook (not Pro) someday running on a “A15” chip in a few years as the primary processor, sure ... it and the MBA are light-duty machines. But not In the pro and desktop line, at least in the foreseeable future.
    ARM have come a long way in the heavy lifting department of late.
    JWSCmacky the macky
  • Reply 8 of 34
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 597member
    We will all understand why one day, when Apple makes an OS and mac/armbook, that (almost) COMPLETELY alleviates ALL RAM, and everything is stored on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_XPoint 3D NAND, disk, and if all of your "Memory/System Morsels" are on the "HD" aka SSD aka NAND drive, easily readable at anytime there will only be one answer/solution =  ENCRYPTION at ALL TIMES...  good bye Spectre good bye Meltdown... using these new encryption methods Apple is working on.  Yep the future is now!
    fastasleep
  • Reply 9 of 34
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,338member
    My fantasy is that Apple goes to MS and offers to develop an ARM desktop processor family for the two companies, optimized for Windows on ARM, iOS, and MacOS. Let Intel fab it if that makes any difference.

    Wintel isn't dying of natural causes fast enough; it needs an accelerator.
    JWSCrepressthis
  • Reply 10 of 34
    schlackschlack Posts: 675member
    chasm said:
    The part of the report that claims Apple will put ARM-based, customized silicon in future portable and desktop Macs is something of a no-brainer. As Daniel points out, the speculative part that Apple will soon drop Intel is (allow me to use the technical term) cuckoo bananas. These ARM chips are secondary and supplemental in nature, not doing the heavy lifting, and that’s a great role for them. I could certainly imagine a MacBook (not Pro) someday running on a “A15” chip in a few years as the primary processor, sure ... it and the MBA are light-duty machines. But not In the pro and desktop line, at least in the foreseeable future.
    Apparently the A11 chip is outperforming my 2016 13" MBP...according to reported benchmarks...which is kind of shocking...so perhaps for lower end MBP machines they have already reached parity...but what's to stop Apple from creating a 12 or 24 core version of the A11 that compares to high end MBP machines?
    JWSCrepressthisbonobob
  • Reply 11 of 34
    croprcropr Posts: 871member
    GG1 said:
    Unless Apple Buys AMD - which is cheap - then Apple will not be making Intel compatible CPUs for Macs.

    Would AMD's x86 licensing transfer in the event of a purchase? I don't know.

    When Apple moved to Intel years ago, the Intel compatibility (for Windows) was a selling point (for businesses) for Mac hardware, but I doubt it is as big a selling point NOW vs. THEN. I'm sure Apple know their audience, so maybe Apply may shed Intel compatibility when they think the time is right, even if it leaves a few people stranded.

    As more applications move to the cloud, the OS becomes less of a feature/differentiator.
    Moving everything to the cloud is fine, but it does not change the requirements for software developers, who make the cloud solution possible.  And bear in mind that all these cloud servers run Linux.

    If the Mac would no longer run Windows and Linux at (almost) native speed, a Mac would become a 2nd class developing machine for cloud solutions.  I would have to drastically reduce the number of Macs in my software company.     Only the graphical designers who use Sketch and the iOS app developers who use Xcode would still get Macs.  The rest will have Dell XPS with Linux. 

    repressthis
  • Reply 12 of 34
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,669member
    schlack said:
    chasm said:
    The part of the report that claims Apple will put ARM-based, customized silicon in future portable and desktop Macs is something of a no-brainer. As Daniel points out, the speculative part that Apple will soon drop Intel is (allow me to use the technical term) cuckoo bananas. These ARM chips are secondary and supplemental in nature, not doing the heavy lifting, and that’s a great role for them. I could certainly imagine a MacBook (not Pro) someday running on a “A15” chip in a few years as the primary processor, sure ... it and the MBA are light-duty machines. But not In the pro and desktop line, at least in the foreseeable future.
    Apparently the A11 chip is outperforming my 2016 13" MBP...according to reported benchmarks...which is kind of shocking...so perhaps for lower end MBP machines they have already reached parity...but what's to stop Apple from creating a 12 or 24 core version of the A11 that compares to high end MBP machines?
    As a whole, the 13" MacBook Pro is still faster. It was I believe 1 single test where the A11 was faster. Overall, the dual-core Core i5 that is used in the 13" MacBook Pro is still a faster chip. 

    You do however bring up a great point and one that I think will happen sooner, rather than later. I still predict Apple will have a Mac of some sort (Mac mini) with an Apple CPU in it. 
  • Reply 13 of 34
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,669member

    Keep in mind Bloomberg's Mark Gurman also said Apple Watch 2 would definately have a camera for FaceTime, and that this was a key, necessary feature for selling watches. It's not remotely news nor timely reporting that Apple is making its own silicion. Typical recycling of known facts and baseless speculation from an anynomous self-described expert sold as a Bloomberg "report."
    Haha...Apple Watch with a camera? LOL! If there's one thing I hope NEVER comes to Apple Watch, its a damn camera. I don't need cameras all around me 24/7/365. Doing FaceTime on a small screen would be such a poor experience. I can't see how Apple would ever even make this a good experience. 
    anomechia
  • Reply 14 of 34
    I read the Gurman article and it makes a lot of sense.  I've always thought that Apple might try to make an x64 chip of their own at some point.  Is it complicated?  Certainly.  But it's not like others haven't done it and currently, AMD competes against Intel across many product sectors.  While Apple could certainly buy AMD with money they have in the couch cushions, there are serious problems with that approach.

    First, Apple's usual plan in acquisitions is to have the acquired company's technology appear in Apple's products exclusively.  They have even gone through the trouble of severing existing customer relationships (P.A. Semi and the US Government, the israeli company that invented the Touch ID technology and their customers, etc).  For AMD, even though they are a fraction of the size of Intel's sales, they are considered to be the main competition with Intel around the world.  Apple probably wouldn't be comfortable for their business model getting into the x64 general purpose chip business.  And then there's the graphics card market which the market depends on an alternative to Nvidia.

    And frankly, given the experience Apple has with microprocessor design, I think everyone knows they could do a x64 chip.  The question is whether the scale works.  While Apple is Intel's fifth largest customer, Apple benefits from Intel's other customers subsidizing the effort to get those chips in their machines.  If Apple can make a chip family that can be made at a low enough cost to deal with the scale of Macs these chips would go in, then it could work.  Of course, it may not make a lot of sense to make a Xeon capable chip for the Pro models which would leave Apple coming back to Intel.  But if Apple is not buying Intel chips for the main product line anymore, they wouldn't benefit on best pricing from Intel, which would raise the cost/lower the margins of those machines.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 15 of 34
    Windows already has arm compatible operating system so it seems like bootcamp should work right? Someone more technical could probably answer that but I'd be interested to know if an arm based Mac would be able to run arm based windows too? 
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 16 of 34
    rezwits said:
    f all of your "Memory/System Morsels" are on the "HD" aka SSD aka NAND drive, easily readable at anytime there will only be one answer/solution =  ENCRYPTION at ALL TIMES...  good bye Spectre good bye Meltdown... using these new encryption methods Apple is working on.  Yep the future is now!
    Merely encrypting all memory blocks (with a single key for the entire system) won't prevent Spectre/Meltdown style attacks at all, as those attacks don't directly access the memory, but rather have the CPU perform work on memory they don't own and then use cached vs cache miss timing to guess the values. Now, if each process/sand boxed unit has its own key...
    JWSCrepressthis
  • Reply 17 of 34
    ksecksec Posts: 1,527member
    One could argue it is the Intel x86 that is the co processor, not Apple's T Series. Since Apple is basically have the whole boot process themselves, and likely more basic, under the hood OS function will move to have the T2 doing it.

    One of the great thing about T2 is how it has integrated SSD Controller, so Apple could standardize parts across all Mac. And it is likely WiFi and Bluetooth will be integrated as well. That is $40 - $50 BOM cost saved.... likely being spent in other parts of the Mac.

    I dont think it make sense for Apple to build its own x86 chip across the range of TDP in Macs, scaling from 10W to 150W. It makes much more sense for Apple to have their GPU used on the Desktop as well. Since scaling GPU across TDP is much much easier. But then it is hard to imagine Apple writing their Windows drivers for GPU. One possible way is that the GPU is only usable on macOS. On Windows you are stuck with Intel's iGPU.
    GG1
  • Reply 18 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    If Apple dumps Intel in favor of their own custom ARM SOCs in Macs, it will be a sign that Intel miscalculated in negotiations. This is very possible -- Intel has miscalculated before. But it would be a big and risky miscalculation on Intel's part. 
  • Reply 19 of 34
    I am a hardware tech layperson but these T chips and whatever might unfold in the future would seem to eliminate the possibility of a Hackentosh running MacOS at some point. It’s not hard to imagine that is part of Apple’s plan.
    xzu
  • Reply 20 of 34
    GG1GG1 Posts: 215member
    MisterKit said:
    I am a hardware tech layperson but these T chips and whatever might unfold in the future would seem to eliminate the possibility of a Hackentosh running MacOS at some point. It’s not hard to imagine that is part of Apple’s plan.
    See the comments on a previous AI article:

    https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/203235/apple-details-imac-pros-t2-chip-which-handles-secure-boot-system-management-isp-more/p1

    The gist is that the T2 chip is not specifically targeting Hackintoshes at all, although they will be a casualty. Hackintoshes are a rounding error to Apple (to quote Ballmer).

    See Ksec's post above (second paragraph).
    randominternetpersonchia
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