Two years since CEO Tim Cook declared “a historic day for the Mac” at the WWDC 2020 conference, based on Mac ARM sales figures, analysts believe Apple is meeting its planned goals.
Despite being behind the Windows computer manufacturers in the use of ARM chips, since Apple entered, consumers have only begun to pay attention to ARM systems. So why did Apple succeed so quickly?
Experience with ARM
Apple has an experience with ARM that no other semiconductor maker or system vendor has. They were involved in the development of this architecture soon after the Acorn Computer company started working on it in the early 1980s. In fact, ARM6 is the chip of the Apple Newton PDA, despite the failure but the development. Its development is a prelude to what is to come with iOS.
Acorn then spun off and formed a new company called Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) that designs the architecture that is licensed for hundreds of manufacturers today. However, Apple still uses the license to design its own chips and delegate production to a neutral company like TSMC. Since then, ARM chips have been included in Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and wearables. So it’s only a matter of time before ARM makes its way to PC.
Apple doesn’t have the “fragmentation” problem that other platforms like Android or Windows have because they don’t have too many hardware designs to support. This is a great advantage to optimize macOS for any architecture. Apple knows exactly which Mac models it makes and how much hardware it needs to support, making it much easier to design and tweak performance and user experience.
This also makes it much more difficult to ensure reliability, performance, application compatibility, and timely updates for every computer. That’s what Windows computers have trouble with because so many different brands of hardware make it.
One of the big problems that ARM computers running Windows have had so far is performance. Snapdragon SQ2 created under the cooperation between Microsoft and Qualcomm is quite powerful in theory, but it does not handle emulation well even on notable devices like Surface Pro X: lag, freeze, program crashes…
This is not an issue unique to SQ2 as other ARM chips used on Windows laptops are not optimized to emulate x86 applications. And this is where Apple makes a difference because their M-series are suitable for emulation, resulting in better app compatibility, stable software, and outstanding performance. This puts the Apple product ahead of all the work the SQ2 did.
Mastering Hardware and Software
Admittedly, Apple has a huge advantage, which is a closed ecosystem that it has full control over. Apple creates the operating system, designs the hardware to run it, installs its own apps, and even has the final say on what can or can’t be installed on the machine. This gives Apple tight control over the experience, including the transition to ARM-based devices.
Microsoft can’t afford those luxuries. The company must license Windows to both PC manufacturers and individuals to assemble their own custom systems, as well as install applications from any source.
Another big reason why Mac ARM performs better than Windows PC is software support. Taking a 30% “commission fee” from the App Store, Apple supports developers in the transition to ARM. compiler Xcode 12 to make it easy for anyone to easily convert an existing mobile app to a Mac.
In addition to facilitating app migration, Apple also developed technology for developers to port existing iOS and iPadOS apps to new Macs without modification. Microsoft has tried its hand at promoting Windows Universal apps, but developer traction is very low.