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I am disappointed that 3nm is running about 6 months late. The A16 in iPhone 14 Pro really should be fabbed on TSMC 3nm.Hopefully, these rumors are really from TSMC “merchant” arm, while Apple’s production is being kept ultra-secret and they have the first 6 to 12 months of capacity. So, no one really knows about it and they really started production of A16 chips in June.
JP234 said:Do we have an alternate source for these chips? Looks like our congressmen have decided to provoke China over Taiwan. Does Apple (or any US manufacturer) really want to rely solely on China to supply critical semis? And trust them not to engineer some "special sauce" into them?Your questions seem to understand that Taiwan is not China, yet you still conflate TSMC as being Chinese. TSMC is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. It’s Taiwanese with most of its fabs in Taiwan. TSMC has satellite fabs in both China and the USA. You should not conflate the two.Semiconductor manufacturing is a global enterprise. One of the key components is actually a Dutch company who makes the photolithography machines that go into the fabs. Japanese, Korean and Chinese companies, also multinationals, make the modules that the chips are put in. Then, the materials and sub-components come from all over the world too.These are global multi-national companies. They are diversified and continually diversifying. They don’t do it as fast as the speed of politics perhaps, but they will do what they need to do to stay in business.TSMC’s fabs are the most advanced fabs in the world. There isn’t a competitor. The nearest “competitor” is Samsung, and if Apple used their fabs, they would have slower and hotter chips. Apple has had a decadal and symbiotic relationship with them. It’s basically because of Apple that TSMC, and their own discipline and decision making, has the most advanced fabs. If Apple is to have TSMC diversify, it will be to get them to have more fabs elsewhere in the world, not primarily in Taiwan.Lastly, there isn’t any special sauce. It’s plain old boring physics and economics. They take silicon and etch CMOS circuits onto them. Every stage from the silicon itself to the software that runs on them is validated at every stage. You don’t do anything by surprise as it could result in business destroying consequences. Apple, and every TSMC customer, knows precisely what happens to their chips.
I know you are talking about the brand name "Mac Pro" and Intel hardware, but the origin of the case and its industrial design started with the PowerMac G5 in 2003. The case dimensions are identical between the Mac Pro and the PowerMac G5, the internals were rearchitected for various PowerPC and Intel system designs, but the case is generally the same. The same handles, feet and the same access panel. The same industrial design.The original Mac Pro is 16 years old today, and it's still remembered as a high point in Apple history. As we wait to see what an Apple Silicon version will be like, AppleInsider celebrates the old favorite workhorse -- and its less-successful sequels.
Back then, the big desktop essentially served the role that the MacBook Pro serves today. I think it was even 5% to 10% of Mac sales in the early aughts. Once the MBP became the bulk seller for the higher priced machines, Apple seemed to treat the Mac Pro as a boutique machine or they wanted something that was a "widget" that could impact the market. Whatever or whoever it is at Apple, they still think of the Mac Pro as boutique. I think customers just want to keep the 2019 Mac Pro box, keep its expansion capabilities, and keep updating it.
They could have updated it with Ice Lake Xeons last year but didn't. The M1 Mac Pro model didn't make it out the door, and who knows why. Perhaps the pandemic is wreaking havoc on their plans as a Mac Mini and iMac 24 with an M1 Pro, which are a lot more important than a Mac Pro, had to be in the plans, and they didn't ship either. They need more people. Not a lot more, just enough so that more machines can make it out the door, especially once the supply chain reaches a more reliable state.
I buy it from a couple if perspectives. Stage Manager with an external display still needs a lot more work, like 1 year of driver work to cover all the idiosyncrasies of various external monitors, and 3rd party apps need more time to update to size classes, and have it work on external monitors.
I think Apple will be making good progress if Stage Manager is solid on LG UltraFine monitors in landscape. Once you start branching out to HDMI, USBC, ultrawide, and monitor orientations, things are going to get wacky. It will take a long time for apps to be updated and for Apple to get drivers working well. They also have a lot work to support TB3/4 and USBC docks.
Some thoughts on Apple's future chip directions:
1. Cellular modem hardware should be built into all A-series and M-series SoCs. All Macs should offer cellular service, including the desktops. All Watches should come with cellular. All iPads should come with cellular. All Homepods should come with cellular. I think the AirPods Max should come with cellular modem even. Just add the logic bits for cellular modems in the SoC. Cell service should have a la carte, day-to-day, or subscription services. 3 nm and 2 nm nodes will have a lot of transistors to use, use them. It's ok if they are not as performant as QCOM's modems. Once you get above 1 gbits/s, no one really cares about it.
2. They are behind in software imo. I think they should head down the path of the mutable iCloud, network client computing, but amp it up even more. If I have 2 Mac minis that are networked together, macOS should be able to automatically distribute processing across both computers depending on compute load. If I have an MBA and an iMac networked together, macOS should be able to distribute processes to minimize energy use. The MBA should be able to display an app on the iMac and vice versa. Make Ethernet-over-Thunderbolt normal. Make sure a TB4 router is available.
3. Apple devices should be able to create their on local WiFi network and any device should be able to serve as the hot-spot if not all devices with cellular modems being able to act as hot spots. Like one device is on Verizon, another device is on T-Mobile, and a third on a ATT, choose the one with the best connection.
4. Watches and AirPods Max (at least) should become independent devices. They should be able to independently access iCloud, Apple Music, essentially be an iCloud client. Eg, AirPods Max should be able to access Apple Music without a computer or smartphone, and have Siri voice interface. Make their SoCs more performant.
5. Fix Metal to scale more linearly with GPU core counts. I don't know what the issue is, whether it is software not properly optimized for TBDR GPU architectures, Apple's GPU microarchitecture, probably both, but they need to do a better job with this. A 32c M1 Max should be hitting 80k in GB5 Metal and an 64c M1 Ultra should be hitting 180k. Convert as much code to GPU compute as possible. Making GPU cores a little more generalized to make it easier.
6. More hardware variety. They really should keep an iPhone mini in the lineup. It doesn't have to have the leading edge SoC. Use a prior year's SoC and keep it in the lineup. Make it thicker so it's battery life is the same as the larger models. A MBA13 with A15/A16 8 GB for $800. A MBA15 with M2 for $1600. A 35" ultrawide display at 220 PPI of better. A 30" iMac. A 14.5" iPad. Still a mystery why the M1 Pro isn't an option for the Mac mini and iMac 24. A 20" clamshell foldable running iPadOS. A Thunderbolt mechanical keyboard and dock. A laptop with a mechanical keyboard. A laptop with an Ultra SoC.
7. Stackable RAM? 4 packages of LPDDR5/6 stacked on top of each other to achieve 512 GB to 1 TB RAM capacities.
8. The Mac Pro needs to be 1.5 kW and be able to run 4 to 5 "Extreme" SoCs.
9. AR glasses as an external display. So connect the glasses to your iPhone or Mac, the glasses present additional display space.
10. Don't skimp on the CPU cores. The M1 Max is basically a GPU with some CPU cores attached.