From Intel to Apple silicon, here’s the success story of the M1 Mac

With the two-year transition from Intel to its own silicon completed, Apple has just unveiled all the M1 family’s chips for its main Macs. With that, the company is now getting ready for the next wave of computers with second generation of its processors.

In a new story from Wall Street Journalthe publication writes a profile of Apple’s Johnny Srouji, a former Intel engineer and IBM director who made Apple’s semiconductor division drop Intel for its own silicon.

After several years of Mac sales stagnating and the company even having to announce an apology for the overwhelming reception of the Mac Pro 2013, Apple is in a very different position thanks to the M1 chips on the Mac.

But it was not from one day to the next that the company revolutionized its Macs again. It’s 14 years of work behind the scenes of Mr. Srouji, who according to the WSJ had built the chip team from 45 people to several thousand across the globe, including his home country Israel.

“What I learned in life: You think through all the things you can control, and then you have to be flexible and adaptable and strong enough to navigate when things are not going according to plan,” Mr. Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, said in a rare interview. “Covid was one for example.”

In the story, the publication interviews Mike Demier, an independent analyst who has followed the semiconductor industry for nearly 50 years:

“At first it seemed a little crazy that they could actually consider kicking Intel out, but that has made them a more dominant platform in general.”

iPad Air vs iPad Pro - hardware specifications

To produce its own silicon, Apple also had to worry about this Intel transition, as in 2006 the company had struggled to move from PowerPC.

This transition involved several last-minute revisions of the laptop’s main circuit, according to a person involved in this effort. “A lot of people were afraid we were going to have the same problem,” this person said. Mr. Srouji acknowledged that the change in strategy faced a robust debate within the company (…) a mistake would be embarrassing and costly.

“First of all, if we do this, can we deliver better products?” Mr. Srouji said about the debate. ‚ÄúThat’s Question No. 1. It’s not about the chip. Apple is not a chip company. “

When the pandemic started, the Wall Street Journal reports that “one of the biggest concerns came with the arrival of Covid-19, which threatened to derail many years of preparation ahead of the M1 chip’s fall debut in 2020.” When that was not an option, Mr. Srouji on designing a new testing process on the go.

The team set up cameras everywhere in the labs so engineers could inspect the chips remotely, said people familiar with the work. It was the kind of change that would once have been hard to imagine from Apple, where secrecy and control are paramount.

On the one hand, the operation was able to turn so smoothly because Mr. Srouji’s team is spread across the globe, already used to conducting business through video calls and working across time zones, as they coordinated work in remote locations such as San Diego and Munich, Germany.

apple studio display mug

Then Apple unveiled its first batch of M1 Macs with the M1 MacBook Air, Mac mini and MacBook Pro – all praised. Since then, the company announced its first desktop with the M1 chip, the 24-inch iMac, redesigned the MacBook Pro with more powerful variants M1 Pro and M1 Max, and now it has just released its powerful Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip, which can even surpass 2019 Mac Pro.

You can read Wall Street Journal the whole story here.

What do you think of the M1 Macs and Apple’s transition to its own silicon? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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