Apple's Silicon Magic Is Over!

Snazzy Labs
20 Apr 202417:32

TLDRThe video script discusses the evolution of Apple's silicon chips, from the M1 to the M3, and the challenges faced in maintaining performance gains while dealing with the physical limitations of transistor density. It highlights the impressive efficiency and performance of the M1 series, which set new standards for Apple's lineup. However, the script notes that subsequent iterations like the M2 and M3 have shown incremental improvements rather than the groundbreaking leaps seen with the M1. The discussion also addresses the increased competition from other chip manufacturers like Qualcomm, which is making strides with its Snapdragon X Elite SoC. The summary calls for Apple to innovate beyond silicon performance and explore new form factors that fully utilize the capabilities of their chips, suggesting a shift in focus to hardware design to stay ahead in the market.


  • 🔥 Apple's M1 chip was a game-changer, offering significant performance improvements over previous Intel-based Macs, with better efficiency and no need for a fan in some models.
  • 💻 The M2 chip, while iterative, saw a performance increase but also faced thermal challenges, indicating that Apple is reaching the limits of current technology.
  • 📈 Apple's M3 chip, manufactured on TSMC's 3nm process, did not deliver the expected leap in performance, highlighting the end of an era for massive improvements with each process shrink.
  • 💡 The script suggests that the focus should shift from pure performance gains to innovative hardware design, leveraging Apple's silicon efficiency for unique form factors.
  • 🚀 The M1 series is considered one of the best computer lineups ever, but to maintain this lead, Apple needs to continue innovating and not rest on its laurels.
  • 🔍 The M2 MacBook Air was found to have more thermal issues and performance throttling compared to the M1, despite its improved performance per watt.
  • 🌡️ The push for higher clock speeds and more transistors in the M2 has led to increased power consumption and heat, which is a challenge for future designs.
  • 📉 The era of significant performance gains from one process shrink to the next is over, with new nodes becoming more expensive and less impactful.
  • 🤖 Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite SoC, based on TSMC's 4nm process, is positioning itself as a competitor to Apple's silicon, aiming for a balance between performance and efficiency.
  • 🔄 The script emphasizes the need for Apple to consider different form factors and use cases for its silicon, such as ultra-thin laptops or powerful gaming machines.
  • ⏰ The M3 MacBook Pro's fans run at full speed during video editing tasks, indicating that even with Apple's efficient silicon, thermal management remains a critical issue.

Q & A

  • What was the main issue with the older Macs before the introduction of Apple's M1 chip?

    -The older Macs had a combination of high TDP Intel chips and inadequate cooling, which led to overheating and a significant drop in benchmark scores.

  • How did Apple's M1 chip change the perception of Macs?

    -The M1 chip was a revelation, allowing Macs to maintain their thin and light form factor while offering 3.5x faster performance without the need for a fan. Additionally, it provided a 50% longer battery life without changing the battery size.

  • What were the three main factors behind the M1's incredible performance?

    -The three main factors were: (1) the modern Arm64 instruction set architecture, (2) Apple's dedicated on-chip hardware blocks for specific tasks, and (3) deep vertical control from hardware to kernel to OS to application, which streamlined efficiency.

  • What are the three options to get a faster chip like the M2?

    -The three options are: (1) shrink the size and power consumption of the transistors to add more of them, (2) keep the transistor size the same but increase their number, resulting in a larger die with greater heat and power drain, and (3) keep the transistor size and count the same but increase the voltage to push up the chip’s clock-speed.

  • How did the M2 chip address performance improvements?

    -The M2 chip moved to TSMC’s refined N5P process, which resulted in a 7% performance improvement and about 15% lower power consumption. It also increased the total number of transistors from 16 billion to 20 billion.

  • What is the significance of the Snapdragon X Elite SoC for the competition in the laptop chip market?

    -The Snapdragon X Elite SoC is a bespoke laptop chip built on TSMC’s 4nm process with high-performance cores and advanced features. It represents a significant push from Qualcomm and Microsoft into the laptop market, offering performance that competes with Apple's M2 and M3 chips.

  • Why might the era of massive improvements from one process shrink to the next be over?

    -The era might be over because the performance gains from process shrinks are becoming smaller, the time between each new node is increasing, and each new node is significantly more expensive than the previous one.

  • What is the current limitation that Apple Silicon faces in terms of technological progress?

    -Apple Silicon is facing limitations related to transistor density and the physical constraints of chip design, which are causing increased heat and power consumption as they push the boundaries of performance.

  • How does the performance per watt of Apple's M2 chip compare to its predecessor, the M1?

    -Although the M2 chip consumed more total energy at its peak, its performance per watt increased, allowing it to complete tasks more quickly and thus maintain lower energy consumption per task relative to the M1.

  • What is the author's suggestion for Apple's future direction in terms of hardware design?

    -The author suggests that Apple should innovate in hardware design, creating form factors that take full advantage of their silicon's performance per watt, such as a thinner and lighter laptop or a more powerful gaming-oriented laptop.

  • What is the author's perspective on the current state of Apple's silicon and the need for future innovation?

    -The author believes that while Apple's M1 series was groundbreaking, the company needs to continue taking risks and innovating to stay ahead of the competition, which is rapidly catching up.



😀 Apple Silicon's Evolution and M1's Impact

The paragraph discusses the transformation of Apple's Mac lineup with the introduction of the M1 chip, which addressed overheating issues and significantly improved performance compared to previous models with Intel chips. The M1's efficiency allowed for a fanless design in the MacBook Air and extended battery life without increasing its size. The paragraph also highlights the improvements in the MacBook Pro and M2 MacBook Air, and the efficiency of the M1 iMac and iPad Pro. It emphasizes that while Apple's current lineup is one of the best ever, the company must continue to innovate to maintain this status, especially with the M3 series not living up to the high standards set by the M1. The success of the M1 is attributed to its modern instruction set architecture, dedicated hardware blocks, and Apple's deep control over the entire software stack.


🤔 Challenges and Limitations of the M2 and M3 Chips

This paragraph delves into the technical challenges faced by Apple in improving upon the M1 chip with the M2 and M3. It explains the trade-offs involved in chip design, such as transistor density and power consumption. The M2 chip, while faster, was also found to be more power-hungry and harder to cool, leading to performance throttling. The M3 chip's launch on TSMC's 3nm process did not yield the expected performance gains due to the limitations of the process node and the increasing costs associated with it. The paragraph suggests that the era of significant performance improvements with each process shrink is over, and Apple must find new ways to innovate.


🚀 The Emergence of Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite

The third paragraph introduces Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite as a new competitor in the laptop chip market. It details the chip's specifications, including a high-performance core CPU, Adreno GPU, Hexagon NPU, and support for up to 64GB of LPDDR5 memory. The X Elite's performance is positioned between the M2 and M3, indicating a serious challenge to Apple's dominance. The paragraph also notes that while Apple may still lead in high-performance chips, Qualcomm's focus on efficiency and software-defined hardware for specific tasks could make them a formidable competitor in the future.


💡 Apple's Design Innovations and Future Risks

The final paragraph suggests that Apple should shift its focus from silicon performance to hardware design to maintain its edge. It proposes the idea of creating a laptop that takes full advantage of Apple silicon's performance per watt, potentially even thinner and lighter than the 2015 12-inch MacBook. It also suggests exploring the possibility of a more powerful 'gaming' laptop with an M3 ULTRA chip. The paragraph emphasizes the need for Apple to take bold risks, as it did with the M1, to stay ahead of the competition and not become complacent with its current achievements.



💡Apple Silicon

Apple Silicon refers to the custom-designed processors that Apple uses in its devices, starting with the M1 chip. These chips are a significant departure from the Intel processors previously used, offering improved performance and efficiency. In the video, Apple Silicon is credited with revolutionizing Apple's lineup of computers, providing faster speeds, longer battery life, and eliminating the need for cooling fans in some models.

💡M1 Chip

The M1 chip is Apple's first-generation custom ARM-based processor designed for Mac computers. It is highlighted in the video as a game-changer that offered significant performance improvements over previous Intel-based Macs. The M1 chip's introduction marked a pivotal moment where Apple's computers became notably faster and more power-efficient.

💡Transistor Density

Transistor density refers to the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit or chip. It is a key metric for measuring the advancement of semiconductor technology. In the context of the video, the discussion around transistor density pertains to the limitations faced by Apple and other chip manufacturers as they seek to increase performance while managing heat and power consumption.

💡Thermal Throttling

Thermal throttling is a mechanism where a device reduces its performance to prevent overheating. The video discusses how the M2 MacBook Air experienced more thermal throttling due to its increased performance capabilities, which resulted in higher heat generation. This is an important consideration in the design of high-performance computing devices.

💡Process Shrink

Process shrink in semiconductor manufacturing refers to the reduction in the size of transistors on a chip, which allows for more transistors to be packed into the same area, theoretically leading to improved performance and efficiency. The video explains that the era of massive improvements from one process shrink to the next is over, and that the costs associated with newer nodes are significantly higher.

💡Snapdragon X Elite

Snapdragon X Elite is a high-performance laptop chip developed by Qualcomm, built on TSMC's 4nm process. It is designed to compete with Apple's silicon in terms of efficiency and performance. The video mentions that this chip could represent significant competition for Apple, as it offers a balance between performance and power consumption, which is crucial for laptop design.

💡Neural Engine

The Neural Engine is a dedicated hardware block within Apple's Silicon that is specifically designed to accelerate machine learning tasks. It is part of what made the M1 chip so powerful, as it could handle specific tasks more efficiently than a general-purpose CPU or GPU. The video underscores the importance of specialized hardware like the Neural Engine in achieving the performance levels seen in Apple's silicon.

💡Unified Memory

Unified memory is a type of memory architecture used in Apple's M1 chip where the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine all share a single pool of memory. This design allows for more efficient memory access and faster data transfer between different components, which significantly contributes to the performance of Apple's silicon. The video highlights this as one of the innovations that set Apple's M1 chip apart.

💡M3 Series

The M3 series refers to the anticipated third generation of Apple's custom silicon chips. The video discusses the challenges and expectations for the M3 series, particularly in relation to the significant advancements set by the M1 series. It is suggested that the improvements from the M2 to M3 might not be as substantial as those from the M1 to M2, indicating a potential slowdown in the pace of innovation.


In the context of the video, efficiency refers to the ability of a computing device to deliver high performance while using minimal power and generating less heat. Apple's silicon is praised for its efficiency, which has allowed for thinner, lighter, and longer-lasting devices. The video emphasizes that while absolute performance is important, efficiency is a key differentiator for Apple's products.

💡Form Factor

Form factor in the video refers to the physical design and dimensions of a computing device, such as a laptop. The discussion around form factor is about how Apple could leverage the efficiency of its silicon to create even more compact and lightweight devices, or alternatively, larger devices with more powerful components without compromising on battery life. The video suggests that Apple has an opportunity to innovate in device design beyond just performance gains.


Apple's transition to its own silicon with the M1 chip was a game-changer, offering significant performance improvements and efficiency.

The M1 MacBook Air demonstrated 3.5x faster performance without needing a fan, and a 50% longer battery life.

Apple's M1 iMac and iPad Pro showcased the efficiency of Apple silicon across various form factors.

The M2 and M3 chips have iterative improvements but are now facing the same limitations as other manufacturers in transistor density.

The M2 chip, despite being more power-hungry, improved performance per watt, allowing for quicker task completion.

The M3 chip's performance gains were less significant than expected due to the limitations of the 3nm process technology.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite SoC is a new competitor in the market, offering performance between Apple's M2 and M3 chips.

The era of massive performance improvements with each process shrink is over, with new nodes being more expensive.

Apple's focus on sufficient performance with extreme efficiency is being challenged by the physical limitations of silicon technology.

Apple's MacBook lineup is criticized for being too similar in design and not fully utilizing the performance per watt capabilities of Apple silicon.

The potential for a thinner, lighter MacBook that takes advantage of Apple silicon's efficiency is suggested.

A proposal for a more powerful 'gaming' laptop from Apple that leverages the M3 ULTRA chip is discussed.

The commentary calls for Apple to take more risks and innovate in hardware design to stay ahead of the competition.

The video concludes by encouraging viewers to share their thoughts on Apple's current silicon strategy and future directions.