Apple hardware execs discuss 'profound' changes in chip business

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware

Apple's work to bring the design of components in-house is the most "profound change" for the company in the last 20 years, an interview with its hardware chiefs reveals.

John Ternus [left] and Johny Srouji [right], via CNBC
John Ternus [left] and Johny Srouji [right], via CNBC



In an interview recorded in November and aired on Saturday, Apple SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji and SVP of Hardware Engineering John Ternus talked to CNBC about Apple's chip business, among other related topics.

The marriage between the two teams, as well as the software team, makes for a unique working relationship, Srouji explains, letting Apple "build integrated products that are fully optimized for the product," with the development starting four years out from release.

On bringing its designs of chips and components in-house, Ternus starts by talking about how Apple was "using technologies from other companies" for its products, and that Apple was "building the product around that."

While Apple did have a design team that made "incredible" products, "they were constrained by what was available, and I think one of the most, if not the most profound change at Apple in our products over the last 20 years is now how we do so many of these technologies in-house," Ternus said, and "top of the list was our silicon."

When asked if the typical Apple customer knows where the chips come from, and if they care, Srouji states "they know, and I believe they truly care, and here's why. We're not a chip company, but we have a very, I think best in class, world-class chip team, and the fact that we're working together and we're building that silicon exclusively for our products gives my designers the freedom to design for exactly those."

All accomplished "without compromising design, without compromising focus."

TSMC and diversification



With the introduction of 3-nanometer chips in Apple products, the question was raised about production capacity, and if that was an issue, Srouji said he couldn't answer much on the topic, since it was really a question for the foundries. Mentioning its work with chip partner TSMC, Srouji offers "we believe they have scale for our volumes, and capability for our volumes.

Asked about whether there's any urgency from having chip production focused in Japan, Srouji offers Apple "always want to have a diversified supply. Asia, Europe, and the U.S., which is why I think TSMC building fabs in Arizona is great," and that other foundries are doing the same diversification.

"We do rely on TSMC for a good part of our internal chips, and when I think about it, it's actually very complicated," Srouji continued. "Those transistor technologies are very advanced and complicated, but it is still down to a few principles."

"We always want to deliver and build the best chips on the planet, for the best products, so that's our North Star." This, Johny added, means requiring access to the best tools and technology, as well as a partner where they have aligning objectives, reliability, and can scale with Apple's needs.

While Apple has a long relationship with TSMC, Apple is always "exploring options," and is always open to other foundries if they are up to Apple's standards and can handle its requirements. "I think there is goodness to diversify," Srouji believes, but that Apple should always go to the principle of whether doing so can meet its needs.

On geopolitical tensions that could affect production in Taiwan, Srouji states that he cannot disclose future plans, but Apple will "always look ahead, we have strategic bets, and we are very careful with our planning."




Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    edited December 2023 watto_cobraiqatedochasmdanoxradarthekatAlex_VAfarstarjony0macike
  • Reply 2 of 19
    XedXed Posts: 2,711member
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    It is amazing. I wish we saw this with more companies.
    watto_cobrameterestnzradarthekatAlex_VForumPosth4y3sjony0
  • Reply 3 of 19
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 189member
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    h4y3s
  • Reply 4 of 19
    XedXed Posts: 2,711member
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    What vertically integrated device does MS sell?
    watto_cobraradarthekatForumPost
  • Reply 5 of 19
    The great thing about Apple is the long term vision and stop on a dime preparedness. 

    The way they e been able to leapfrog entire industries time snd again by secretly preparing for a possible paradigm shift internally, then releasing developer tools that make such an impossible transition become an easy task, then, boom! Drop the hammer, wave goodbye to historically great tech that will only hold them back in the future. They’re simply not afraid to prune the vine when needed or plant an entirely new tree if that’s what’s going to propel them forward, further, faster. 

    When it was time to say goodbye to 32 bit, they had already prepared internally then gave developers the resources snd time to transition. 

    When it was time to say goodbye to PowerPC, they had already spent the previous 5 years prepping. When it was time to introduce Apple Silicon, they had dev kits ready to go, Xcode ready to go, a stable mobile silicon team with history already under its belt, and Rosetta 2 up and optimized. Masterclass. Even with the pandemic and fallout, Apple weathered the storm, slowed hiring when everyone else was inflating their staff, and everyone else had mass layoffs. When other companies were slashing prices post lockdown, apple was increasing theirs (annoyingly to customers) and keep profit margins healthy. 

    They simply operate consistently in wide principles, avoid fad style trends, and press on with their mission of building the best products on the planet. 

    I still remember Steve Jobs holding a retreat for his staff, challenging them to do something crazy, sacrifice even a great thing if it means getting the best thing, and the next thing we knew, they killed the hugely successful mini - only to replace it with the even more successful iPod nano. Crazy. But smart. 

    Dang guys. Kudos. 


    edited December 2023 Xedwatto_cobraradarthekatAlex_VForumPostkiltedgreenh4y3skurai_kagejony0
  • Reply 6 of 19
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    I use Dell notebooks for work, and the experience is not nearly as good as a Mac, no ifs or butts. The fact that the fans still kick in on Windows machines sitting idle is a joke — the opposite of the sort of benefits gained from vertical integration. Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward.

    Nope. 
    watto_cobrachasmdanoxtmayradarthekatAlex_Vdope_ahminejony0macike
  • Reply 7 of 19
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,826member
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Now, to get that capability into an EV, either Apple's own or someone else's. A British motoring magazine rated 88 EVs for the end of 2023 and concluded with the Porsche Taycan as best overall car - maybe there is hope. Merry Christmas all. 🎄

    (Image - Porsche and AppleInsider.)

    tmayAlex_Vh4y3swatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,431member
    sirdir said:
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    As someone who now works with Windows nearly every day helping people untangle issues, I'd say you can have an experience that is "good" with a Windows PC, but you'll never get to Apple levels of greatness until you do what they did -- control 98 percent of the entire hardware and software experience. The closest MS has come to this is the Surface/Surface Pro tablets, and they're good -- but they're no iPad.

    To borrow an analogy, there are two ways to design a highway system: you can a) assess what is needed now, build that, and then bolt on and bolt on as needs expand -- or b) you can visualize where you'll need to be in 10-20 years, build THAT, adjust slightly where your prediction didn't meet reality, but basically have long-lasting system, and be unafraid to replace it outright with another long-lasting vision when the 20 years is up.

    Apple do the latter, and Microsoft does the former. MS is definitely getting slowly better at longer-term thinking, but now their users hate them for it because they've been long trained to expect no significant changes (just worsening performance) for decades at a time. Windows 11 looks nicer than Win10 IMO, but underneath the window dressing is ... a GUI built on DOS, still. As far as I can tell, the biggest genuine infrastructure change to Windows in the last decade is going to be the bolting-on of Co-Pilot all over the place.

    Apple, by contrast, has trained its users to expect change all the time -- every year in some areas -- and big changes can be incorporated within that. We are 23 years in to the reinvention of UNIX + GUI as Mac OS X (ten), and we are still running on macOS 14, which is still using the same underpinnings. The infrastructure has been so well thought-out that frankly we'll probably be on it until quantum computing is a mainstream thing.

    PS. While I've come to genuinely appreciate some things Windows has and does over recent years, NO operating system that forces users to see ads from outside advertisers in its system notifications can EVER be called great. Microsoft does this; Apple does not. And I'm not even going to bring up how wasteful of resources and power Windows is compared to Macs.
    edited December 2023 radarthekatAlex_VStrangeDaysForumPosth4y3swatto_cobrakurai_kagejony0macike
  • Reply 9 of 19
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,826member
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    I use Dell notebooks for work, and the experience is not nearly as good as a Mac, no ifs or butts. The fact that the fans still kick in on Windows machines sitting idle is a joke — the opposite of the sort of benefits gained from vertical integration. Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward.

    Nope. 
    'Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward' Is Windows still DOS based... or am I just showing my age?
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,115member
    It's never too late Amiga OS, Sun OS, Irix, Atari OS, Digital OS, OS/2, SunOS (Solaris?), RISC OS, BeOS, WebOS and Linux (forked?) can all be updated to run today by their owners with dedicated in house hardware and can be built on the level of Apple computer (the last vertical) designed to power them, but there is no real will to do so, and most have given up long ago in the face of the Wintel Behemoth.

    The next Steve Jobs who doesn't know the word impossible may change that equation, but that person is in Kindergarten in East Asia, America, Europe or somewhere else in the world oblivious to the computers (tech) of Christmas past......

    The current AI Buzzword or Android certainly won't do it and Microsoft, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel are probably feeling no real sense of urgency but Qualcomm is hoping Microsoft feels a just little. :smile: 
      
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    chasm said:
    sirdir said:
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.

    Apple do the latter, and Microsoft does the former. MS is definitely getting slowly better at longer-term thinking, but now their users hate them for it because they've been long trained to expect no significant changes (just worsening performance) for decades at a time. Windows 11 looks nicer than Win10 IMO, but underneath the window dressing is ... a GUI built on DOS, still. As far as I can tell, the biggest genuine infrastructure change to Windows in the last decade is going to be the bolting-on of Co-Pilot all over the place.

    Apple, by contrast, has trained its users to expect change all the time -- every year in some areas -- and big changes can be incorporated within that. We are 23 years in to the reinvention of UNIX + GUI as Mac OS X (ten), and we are still running on macOS 14, which is still using the same underpinnings. The infrastructure has been so well thought-out that frankly we'll probably be on it until quantum computing is a mainstream thing.


    Windows hasn't been a "GUI built on DOS" for over 20 years. Since Windows XP all Windows releases have been based on Windows NT (which itself was largely based on the solid VAX/VMS architecture). 

    There have been some significant changes to Windows since the introduction of Windows 10. One really important addition is the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The Windows Terminal is another great addition. Useful dev tools like a native package manager (winget) and Dev Home have also been added. And yes, Co-Pilot is going to be extremely useful. 

    Microsoft is improving the core Windows experience but has very intelligently made the Linux Subsystem a critical part of it. Latest tools such as the Windows AI Studio require WSL to run, and this is a smart move (in terms of interoperability and taking models from the cloud to run locally... nearly all machine learning models are of course trained on Linux).

    Whilst macOS is a fine operating system if it can meet your needs, Windows with WSL is an excellent alternative if you need a seamlessly integrated Linux environment / certain Windows applications / virtual machines that require x86.
    edited December 2023
  • Reply 12 of 19
    iqatedo said:
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    I use Dell notebooks for work, and the experience is not nearly as good as a Mac, no ifs or butts. The fact that the fans still kick in on Windows machines sitting idle is a joke — the opposite of the sort of benefits gained from vertical integration. Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward.

    Nope. 
    'Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward' Is Windows still DOS based... or am I just showing my age?
    I don’t think so, but there’s still evidence of years of bolt-ons. In settings, for example, there are two or three GUI styles — the newer Windows 10 flat menus, but then also legacy Windows panels and expanders and stuff. Some articles about it. 
    iqatedowatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,453member
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    I use Dell notebooks for work, and the experience is not nearly as good as a Mac, no ifs or butts. The fact that the fans still kick in on Windows machines sitting idle is a joke — the opposite of the sort of benefits gained from vertical integration. Then there is Windows itself, which is still kludgy and awkward.

    Nope. 
    My customers have a very good experience with their Windows notebooks, most of them ThinkPads.  And based on what I have seen, noisy fans is because of poor efficiency of the x86 processors they use and not because of Windows. If the same Windows notebook had a powerful + efficient processor it would not have a noisy fan.  We'll have to wait and see what happens with Qualcomm Snapdragon X notebooks.  

    And while I agree that Windows is awkward in some cases, the same can said of macOS.  At the end, there is no perfect OS.  
    ctt_zh
  • Reply 14 of 19
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,453member
    Xed said:
    sirdir said:
    h4y3s said:
    The incredible vertical alignment that Apple is able to achieve is going to lead to superior products, and the "It just works" principal for years to come. We should feel lucky to live in such an age
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    What vertically integrated device does MS sell?
    You don't need vertically integrated devices to have a good experience. Although I agree Apple integration between devices is very good, there are cases where it doesn't result in a good experience.  One example is gaming.  For years gaming in Apple devices have been terrible.  Windows PC and Xbox consoles, which are not as integrated as Apple devices, offer a better gaming experience. The same could apply with CAD / CAM and 3D apps.


    IMO you'll have the best experience when you have right hardware and software, and not necessarily because of vertically integrated devices.   
  • Reply 15 of 19
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,453member
    chasm said:
    sirdir said:
    Still I‘d say you can have an experience that is almost as good today with a windows PC, something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago.
    As someone who now works with Windows nearly every day helping people untangle issues, I'd say you can have an experience that is "good" with a Windows PC, but you'll never get to Apple levels of greatness until you do what they did -- control 98 percent of the entire hardware and software experience. The closest MS has come to this is the Surface/Surface Pro tablets, and they're good -- but they're no iPad.
    IMO, the iPad is a better tablet, but the Surface Pro is a better device when using keyboard + trackpad.
    Apple do the latter, and Microsoft does the former. MS is definitely getting slowly better at longer-term thinking, but now their users hate them for it because they've been long trained to expect no significant changes (just worsening performance) for decades at a time. Windows 11 looks nicer than Win10 IMO, but underneath the window dressing is ... a GUI built on DOS, still. As far as I can tell, the biggest genuine infrastructure change to Windows in the last decade is going to be the bolting-on of Co-Pilot all over the place.

    Apple, by contrast, has trained its users to expect change all the time -- every year in some areas -- and big changes can be incorporated within that. We are 23 years in to the reinvention of UNIX + GUI as Mac OS X (ten), and we are still running on macOS 14, which is still using the same underpinnings. The infrastructure has been so well thought-out that frankly we'll probably be on it until quantum computing is a mainstream thing.

    PS. While I've come to genuinely appreciate some things Windows has and does over recent years, NO operating system that forces users to see ads from outside advertisers in its system notifications can EVER be called great. Microsoft does this; Apple does not. And I'm not even going to bring up how wasteful of resources and power Windows is compared to Macs.
    Windows does not have a GUI build on DOS.   And regarding ads, I have seen a few of them in my Apple devices, specifically Apple TV+ and Apple Music.  Ads are annoying in Windows and Apple devices.  
    edited December 2023 nubus
  • Reply 16 of 19
    nubusnubus Posts: 492member
    With M-series we lost the ability to upgrade memory and storage, the Mac can no longer use ECC memory, and we have to accept the massive Apple Tax on memory and storage that raised the true price of a Mac. As we can't upgrade after purchase, it makes the Mac less flexible and moves the cost forward and/or reduces the useable lifetime of the computer. Apple is deprecating computers from OS upgrades faster than Microsoft. Apple even removed all GPU + eGPU upgrades.

    Yes, performance on M-series is outstanding, but we have lost something precious. Now we have to believe that "8 GB for CPU+GPU is really Pro" and "Apple is ahead of Nvidia on AI".
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 19
    nubus said:
    With M-series we lost the ability to upgrade memory and storage, the Mac can no longer use ECC memory, and we have to accept the massive Apple Tax on memory and storage that raised the true price of a Mac. As we can't upgrade after purchase, it makes the Mac less flexible and moves the cost forward and/or reduces the useable lifetime of the computer. Apple is deprecating computers from OS upgrades faster than Microsoft. Apple even removed all GPU + eGPU upgrades.

    Yes, performance on M-series is outstanding, but we have lost something precious. Now we have to believe that "8 GB for CPU+GPU is really Pro" and "Apple is ahead of Nvidia on AI".
    The is a fanciful retelling of events. We lost the ability to upgrade memory and storage on everything but the Mac Pro well before the M series processors. More or less the same with GPUs. Only the Mac Pro had the option to upgrade the internal GPU. 

    The fact that  you didn’t know that means you either only used a Mac Pro or you never upgraded your Macs and are now bemoaning the loss of upgrades for the sake of complaining. 

    As far as Mac OS upgrades go, which M series has been quickly depreciated? By my count none of them have. Are we seeing intel machines deprecated faster now? Yes, but that is somewhat expected. Apple can’t keep parity as Intel machines can’t do what the M series chips can do. The option is to slow development of Mac OS to keep older systems around or accept they are going to go at a somewhat hastened pace. 

    Criticism of the move to the M series is fair but at least be honest about it. The hyperbole about losing “precious” things is a tad ridiculous. 
    edited December 2023 tmay
  • Reply 18 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,115member
    nubus said:
    With M-series we lost the ability to upgrade memory and storage, the Mac can no longer use ECC memory, and we have to accept the massive Apple Tax on memory and storage that raised the true price of a Mac. As we can't upgrade after purchase, it makes the Mac less flexible and moves the cost forward and/or reduces the useable lifetime of the computer. Apple is deprecating computers from OS upgrades faster than Microsoft. Apple even removed all GPU + eGPU upgrades.

    Yes, performance on M-series is outstanding, but we have lost something precious. Now we have to believe that "8 GB for CPU+GPU is really Pro" and "Apple is ahead of Nvidia on AI".
    The is a fanciful retelling of events. We lost the ability to upgrade memory and storage on everything but the Mac Pro well before the M series processors. More or less the same with GPUs. Only the Mac Pro had the option to upgrade the internal GPU. 

    The fact that  you didn’t know that means you either only used a Mac Pro or you never upgraded your Macs and are now bemoaning the loss of upgrades for the sake of complaining. 

    As far as Mac OS upgrades go, which M series has been quickly depreciated? By my count none of them have. Are we seeing intel machines deprecated faster now? Yes, but that is somewhat expected. Apple can’t keep parity as Intel machines can’t do what the M series chips can do. The option is to slow development of Mac OS to keep older systems around or accept they are going to go at a somewhat hastened pace. 

    Criticism of the move to the M series is fair but at least be honest about it. The hyperbole about losing “precious” things is a tad ridiculous. 
    Apple is well rid of Intel, AMD, and Nvidia something like AVP, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or the M3 Mac Studio 256 GIG UMA  (MaxHeadroom) would not be possible with those three Stooges attached to Apple.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    iGalloiGallo Posts: 2member
    I look at Johny Srouji talking and i see the new CEO of Apple.  The guy delivers.
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