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Apple Engineers Talk M1 Representing Steve Jobs’ Vision of ‘The Whole Widget’ for Mac

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In a new interview with Om Malik, Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi, marketing chief Greg Joswiak, and chipmaking chief Johny Srouji to discuss the company’s new M1 chip that has upended the industry with its fast speed and low power consumption.

Greg Joswiak said that the release of Apple’s M1 chip is a representation of the late Steve Jobs’ vision to make “the whole widget” for the Mac:

Steve used to say that we make the whole widget. We’ve been making the whole widget for all of our products, from the iPhone, to the iPads, to the watch. This was the final element to making the whole widget on the Mac.

In regards to the tech specs of Apple Silicon, Johny Srouji noted that “It’s not about the gigahertz and megahertz, but about what the customers are getting out of it.” He explained that specifications never fully represent how custom silicon can be “perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it.”

Everyone’s favorite software engineering chief, Craig Federighi, agreed with Srouji, giving an example:

The specs that are typically bandied about in the industry have stopped being a good predictor of actual task-level performance for a long time. Architecturally, how many streams of 4k or 8k video can you process simultaneously while performing certain effects? That is the question video professionals want an answer to. No spec on the chip is going to answer that question for them.

Srouji notes that the Cupertino company is unique in that it can engineer its hardware and software together, thus creating an overall improved result:

I believe the Apple model is unique and the best model. We’re developing a custom silicon that is perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it. When we design our chips, which are like three or four years ahead of time, Craig and I are sitting in the same room defining what we want to deliver, and then we work hand in hand. You cannot do this as an Intel or AMD or anyone else.

In the same light, Federighi explains how such close development of both hardware and software help issues with physical limitations of hardware:

It is difficult to put more transistors on a piece of silicon. It starts to be more important to integrate more of those components closely together and to build purpose-built silicon to solve the specific problems for a system. Being in a position for us to define together the right chip to build the computer we want to build and then build that exact chip at scale is a profound thing.

Srouji on Apple’s unique business model:

We’re developing a custom silicon that is perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it. When we design our chips, which are like three or four years ahead of time, Craig and I are sitting in the same room defining what we want to deliver, and then we work hand in hand. You cannot do this as an Intel or AMD or anyone else.

The entire interview is well worth read read over at Om Malik’s blog.

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