A Future Retina MacBook Running Apple's System-on-a-Chip

Sunday, April 12, 2015

With the release of the new retina MacBook, all of the major tech blogs have released their reviews. Arstechnica always digs deep into the technical bits of a new Apple product and I noticed something interesting buried in one of their pages.

On Page 5 of their review is the following paragraph:

Another interesting thing to note, though we didn’t include it on these charts: the MacBook’s multi-core CPU performance is nearly identical to that of the iPad Air 2. The A8X still has lower single-threaded performance—it needs a third core to match the dual-core Core M—but we’ve gotten to the point where top-end ARM chips and low-power Intel chips have very similar power usage and performance characteristics.

“the MacBook’s multi-core CPU performance is nearly identical to that of the iPad Air 2.”

Let that sink in for a bit.

We have reached the point where a first generation Apple laptop equals the performance of an iPad Air 2 when a particular benchmark test is run on each device.

When I read that, I imagine one thing: the retina MacBook is the first step to Apple eventually using their own system-on-a-chip processor in their laptops.

Wikipedia shows that iPhone’s, iPad’s, and Apple TV’s have been and are using the “Ax” series of processors. Apple created another system-on-a-chip specifically for the Apple Watch called the “Sx” series.

Given that the “Ax” series performance - when particular benchmarks are run - is practically on par with an Intel Core M processor, I would not be surprised to see a future “Ax” processor used in their laptop line. I also would not be surprised to see a new system-on-a-chip created and used specifically for their laptop line.

Assuming Apple does release a retina MacBook using their own processor, the line separating Apple’s consumer laptops and prosumer laptops becomes much less blurry compared to the past several years.

Apple’s consumer laptop line, MacBook, is ultra portable, contains minimal ports, and is using their system-on-a-chip processors. Their prosumer laptop line, MacBook Pro, is portable, contains many ports, and is using Intel’s Core processors.

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