Johny Srouji says Apple's hardware ambitions are limited only by physics

Posted:
in General Discussion
The Apple Silicon chips in the new MacBook Pro are just the latest result in Apple's years-long plan to control every element of its products, says Johny Srouji in a rare interview.

Johny Srouji during Apple's
Johny Srouji during Apple's "Unleashed" event


As Apple's senior vice president, hardware technologies, Johny Srouji has been talked about as a successor to Tim Cook, and had been thought to be in line to take over Intel. Instead, he remains focused on developing Apple's processors, as he was when Steve Jobs recruited him in 2008.

Now as the new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors have been revealed, Srouji -- plus Apple's John Ternus and Greg "Joz" Joswiak -- have spoken about how the company got to this point. Talking to Wired, they all speak about how the aim was to have Apple design all it could, and the process was to work together.

"I always keep in mind that Apple is first and foremost a product company," said Srouji. "If you're a chip designer, this is heaven because you're building silicon for a company that builds products."

"When you're a merchant vendor, a company that delivers off-the-shelf components or silicon to many customers, you have to figure what is the least common denominator-- what is it that everyone needs across many years?" he continues.

"We work as one team-- the silicon, the hardware, the software, the industrial design, and other teams-- to enable a certain vision," says Srouji. "We sit together, and say, 'Okay, is it gated by physics? Or is it something we can go beyond?' And then, if it's not gated by physics and it's a matter of time, we go figure out how to build it."

Srouji says that Apple began its efforts "with the CPU first," and then it went into graphics. "Then we went into signal processing, display engine, etc.," he explains. "Year over year, we built our engineering muscle and wisdom and ability to deliver."

One Apple

Specifically talking about this approach applied to the new MacBook Pro, John Ternus, vice president, hardware engineering, repeated Srouji's comment about teams working together.

"Traditionally, you've got one team at one company designing a chip, and they have their own set of priorities and optimizations," he told Wired. "And then the product team and another company has to take that chip and make it work in their design."

"With these MacBook Pros, we started all the way at the beginning-- the chip was being designed right when the system was being thought through," continued Ternus.

Wired asked Ternus, Srouji, and senior vice president, worldwide marketing, Greg "Joz" Joswiak, about Google beginning to build its own silicon just as Apple has.

"Clearly, they think we're doing something right," said Joswiak.

Pressed for any advice Apple could give Google about working on new processors, Joswiak said: "Oh, I don't know. Buy a Mac."

Read on AppleInsider
patchythepiratelkrupp
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,094member
    Joz always seems like such a happy trooper
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 27
    KTRKTR Posts: 190member
    Will Google be selling the chips, or are they going to try to blend Google os and chip?
  • Reply 3 of 27
    KTR said:
    Will Google be selling the chips, or are they going to try to blend Google os and chip?
    My gut tells me they will behave like Samsung with phone screens and make incredible proprietary products for themselves, and sell off the ‘lesser’ versions to others for use in their devices. But it’s an interesting question and can’t wait to see what they do in the future. As long as someone is keeping up with, or trying to keep up with, A or M series chips, that will push innovation across the board in consumer devices.
    kurai_kagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    GG1GG1 Posts: 465member
    The Wired article is good but brief. Srouji truly is instrumental to Apple's success.

    "Srouji’s mission was to lead Apple in making its own silicon. The effort has been so well executed that I believe Srouji is secretly succeeding Jony Ive as the pivotal creative wizard whipping up the secret sauce in Apple’s offerings."

    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    Whatever Srouji has cooked up for the iMac Pro and Mac Pro will be otherworldly. Desktops with no thermal issues, no space confinements, no battery life issues, the mind boggles at what Apple Silicon might provide power users in those machines.
    auxiodocno42williamlondonplastico23patchythepirateMacProthtwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    "Pressed for any advice Apple could give Google about working on new processors, Joswiak said: "Oh, I don't know. Buy a Mac.””

    Should have said, “Shut it down and give the money back to the stockholders.” /s
    docno42patchythepirateMacProwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 27
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,397member
    602warren said:
    KTR said:
    Will Google be selling the chips, or are they going to try to blend Google os and chip?
    My gut tells me they will behave like Samsung with phone screens and make incredible proprietary products for themselves, and sell off the ‘lesser’ versions to others for use in their devices. But it’s an interesting question and can’t wait to see what they do in the future. As long as someone is keeping up with, or trying to keep up with, A or M series chips, that will push innovation across the board in consumer devices.
    The problem with Google/Alphabet is that, fundamentally, their business model is selling the best advertising spots.  Everything else they make is simply to support that.  So while they need to make sure their partners using Android on the mobile devices they manufacture are competitive with Apple (maintain that source of data), it's only a portion of the entire base of people they're harvesting data from.  They still get plenty of data from people simply browsing the web and using Google services no matter what device they're on, as well as people using Android-based smart TVs, Google Homes, and anything else Android is embedded in.  So it's not as critical to them to produce the best chip technology as it is for Apple (a company whose business model depends heavily on products).
    edited October 22 patchythepiratebadmonkthtmichelb76watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 27
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,660member
    GG1 said:
    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.
    Better hope they never go dual socket. The compromises you have to make to have two sockets are numerous and what held back the cheese grater and trash can Mac Pro's.  Heck there are performance penalties for "chiplet" packaging like AMD is using with Ryzen and Threadripper.  I get why they are doing it - it's WAY more cost effective for a bunch of reasons.  But if Apple can stomach the production for massive SOC - if you care about performance that's the real ticket and what I hope they stay focused on.  
    patchythepiraterezwitsMacProwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 27
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,496member
    So just like Intel and every other chip designer? Weird thing to say.
    thtmichelb76
  • Reply 10 of 27
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,486member
    GG1 said:
    The Wired article is good but brief. Srouji truly is instrumental to Apple's success.

    "Srouji’s mission was to lead Apple in making its own silicon. The effort has been so well executed that I believe Srouji is secretly succeeding Jony Ive as the pivotal creative wizard whipping up the secret sauce in Apple’s offerings."

    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.

    I doubt they'll double up on SoC's. More than likely they'll go with much bigger SoCs variants, "M# Ultra" or "M# Extreme". They would be so far ahead in performance that they'll only need to update them half as often as the rest of the M1 family (basically the same as they did with the "X" variant in the A-series).
    rezwitsMacProfastasleepwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 27
    602warren said:
    KTR said:
    Will Google be selling the chips, or are they going to try to blend Google os and chip?
    My gut tells me they will behave like Samsung with phone screens and make incredible proprietary products for themselves, and sell off the ‘lesser’ versions to others for use in their devices. But it’s an interesting question and can’t wait to see what they do in the future. As long as someone is keeping up with, or trying to keep up with, A or M series chips, that will push innovation across the board in consumer devices.
    I dislike Samsung but that's not accurate. The OLED screens they sold Apple for use in iPhones have been better than the screens they've used on their own flagship phones. It's just a matter of who was willing to pay more and work more.
    rezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 27
    docno42 said:
    GG1 said:
    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.
    Better hope they never go dual socket. The compromises you have to make to have two sockets are numerous and what held back the cheese grater and trash can Mac Pro's.  Heck there are performance penalties for "chiplet" packaging like AMD is using with Ryzen and Threadripper.  I get why they are doing it - it's WAY more cost effective for a bunch of reasons.  But if Apple can stomach the production for massive SOC - if you care about performance that's the real ticket and what I hope they stay focused on.  
    mjtomlin said:
    I doubt they'll double up on SoC's. More than likely they'll go with much bigger SoCs variants, "M# Ultra" or "M# Extreme". They would be so far ahead in performance that they'll only need to update them half as often as the rest of the M1 family (basically the same as they did with the "X" variant in the A-series).
    Doubling up SoCs simply won't work (at least, well enough to be worth doing, and assuming you're talking about the existing SoCs). There are all sorts of "gated by physics" issues there. But a single large SoC also seems impossible (at least if they stick with their current memory architecture). Whatever they do, it's going to be a lot more interesting. I wrote a bit more about this in comments here: https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/224623/compared-new-14-inch-macbook-pro-versus-13-inch-m1-macbook-pro-versus-intel-13-inch-macbo/p2? ; - see comments 31, 32, 35, 36.

    This is a monumental engineering challenge! If it weren't, we'd already be seeing the new Mac Pros. I fully expect to see a new Pro next year, and that it will be amazing. Don't imagine for a second that these things are easy.
    patchythepiratecg27watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 27
    dk49dk49 Posts: 185member
    lkrupp said:
    Whatever Srouji has cooked up for the iMac Pro and Mac Pro will be otherworldly. Desktops with no thermal issues, no space confinements, no battery life issues, the mind boggles at what Apple Silicon might provide power users in those machines.
    I am wondering how big those chips will be physically! 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 27
    This guy scares me!
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 27
    robabarobaba Posts: 190member
    dk49 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Whatever Srouji has cooked up for the iMac Pro and Mac Pro will be otherworldly. Desktops with no thermal issues, no space confinements, no battery life issues, the mind boggles at what Apple Silicon might provide power users in those machines.
    I am wondering how big those chips will be physically! 
    I’m wondering if they will be monolithic chips on a package or chiplets on a substrate.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    docno42 said:
    GG1 said:
    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.
    Better hope they never go dual socket. The compromises you have to make to have two sockets are numerous and what held back the cheese grater and trash can Mac Pro's.  Heck there are performance penalties for "chiplet" packaging like AMD is using with Ryzen and Threadripper.  I get why they are doing it - it's WAY more cost effective for a bunch of reasons.  But if Apple can stomach the production for massive SOC - if you care about performance that's the real ticket and what I hope they stay focused on.  
    They are zero socket now. Everything is soldered, nothing is socketed. What on earth are you talking about?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 27
    thttht Posts: 4,128member
    This guy scares me!
    Did you here him say "crush"! I had Conan deja vu.

    Well, I think Shruti said "crush" too. Always good to hear that word in that context.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 27
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,956member
    elijahg said:
    So just like Intel and every other chip designer? Weird thing to say.
    Yes. Marketing fluff and quite poor but Apple often does this when someone from engineering is put before the press.

    There was an interview recently with the CEO of Qualcomm and he was asked why the US had screwed up its national efforts in the creation of 5G and he mentioned the fact that they had deliberately taken the decision not to produce 'end products' but to supply others. 

    'Rolling your own' isn't a better or worse decision per se. They are just two different approaches and feeding off Qualcomm has proven very successful for Apple for many years.

    Johny is tacitly admitting this when he says that Apple started with CPU, graphics, signal processing etc. It's all relatively new to Apple and, of course, evidence of that is the lack of a homegrown Apple modem.

    The claims of Apple teams working together in harmony are also a little jarring given the recent cases of 'new' technologies quickly becoming incompatible with newer versions. AI has seen quite a few comments over the last few months claiming Apple's left hand hasn't been aware of whar the right hand was doing. Mainly for consumer facing technologies. For the internal core technologies that isn't the case but that isn't the case virtually anywhere.

    What he is doing is stating the obvious.

    The 'doing something right' comment should really be taken as being successful in what they are doing, not the approach itself. Either approach is fine - provided it is successful. And there is never any guarantee of that. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 27
    docno42 said:
    GG1 said:
    On some other AI thread, a poster mentioned how expensive these M1 Pro/Max SoCs were to make, especially with the variable RAM amounts. So I'm wondering if the forthcoming MacPro may just use two or more M1 Max's on a single motherboard, similar to very high end dual Xeon boards.
    Better hope they never go dual socket. The compromises you have to make to have two sockets are numerous and what held back the cheese grater and trash can Mac Pro's.  Heck there are performance penalties for "chiplet" packaging like AMD is using with Ryzen and Threadripper.  I get why they are doing it - it's WAY more cost effective for a bunch of reasons.  But if Apple can stomach the production for massive SOC - if you care about performance that's the real ticket and what I hope they stay focused on.  
    mjtomlin said:
    I doubt they'll double up on SoC's. More than likely they'll go with much bigger SoCs variants, "M# Ultra" or "M# Extreme". They would be so far ahead in performance that they'll only need to update them half as often as the rest of the M1 family (basically the same as they did with the "X" variant in the A-series).
    Doubling up SoCs simply won't work (at least, well enough to be worth doing, and assuming you're talking about the existing SoCs). There are all sorts of "gated by physics" issues there. But a single large SoC also seems impossible (at least if they stick with their current memory architecture). Whatever they do, it's going to be a lot more interesting. I wrote a bit more about this in comments here: https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/224623/compared-new-14-inch-macbook-pro-versus-13-inch-m1-macbook-pro-versus-intel-13-inch-macbo/p2? ; - see comments 31, 32, 35, 36.

    This is a monumental engineering challenge! If it weren't, we'd already be seeing the new Mac Pros. I fully expect to see a new Pro next year, and that it will be amazing. Don't imagine for a second that these things are easy.
    It’s fun to imagine a Mac Pro with 2 or 4 M1 Max chips, but I remember my G5 1.8 dual getting so hot you could fry an egg on the case, and that thing had 9 fans!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 27
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,580member
    Buy a Mac is a good advice. Apple got it right with these new MAC chips. It will drive MAC adoption in professional and enterprise world. Wish Apple could make 14" cheaper so more high school and college students can afford. In fact, 14" can become GO TO laptop for them.
    watto_cobra
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