Apple Executives Discuss How Apple Silicon Achieves Steve Jobs' Goal of 'Making the Whole Widget'

In a new interview with Om Malik, Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi, marketing chief Greg Joswiak, and chipmaking chief Johny Srouji discussed the motivations behind Apple Silicon, how Apple is able to differentiate itself from its competitors, and why chip specifications are becoming irrelevant.

new m1 chip

Joswiak explained that ‌Apple Silicon‌ represents the completion of 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.

When asked about how Apple views the technical specifications of its custom silicon, Srouji remarked, "It's not about the gigahertz and megahertz, but about what the customers are getting out of it." He went on to explain that specifications cannot represent how custom silicon can be "perfectly fit for the product and how the software will use it."

Federighi concurred, offering an example of how specifications cannot always indicate real-world performance:

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 pointed out how Apple is in a unique position to engineer hardware and software symbiotically for a better overall 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.

Federighi then elaborated on how close hardware and software integration can remedy some of the inherent physical limitations of hardware and resolve specific problems:

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.

As Srouji sees it, just as the clock speed of the chip inside an iPhone is unimportant, the same will be true for the Macs of the future. Instead, it will all be about "how many tasks you can finish on a single battery life," for example.

Federighi assured that for customers who do not yet have an Apple Silicon-powered Mac appropriate for their purposes, "their day will come. But for now, the systems we're building are, in every way I can consider, superior to the ones they've replaced."

See the full interview for more information.

Top Rated Comments

MacFather Avatar
21 months ago
It all started here...

Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coredev Avatar
21 months ago

What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.
What a negative view on things. I can't believe some people aren't still over the whole ports thing. USB-C is the future, it's used for a lot of "standard hardware" now, so what's your point?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GLS Avatar
21 months ago

What a bunch of bull. Apple is increasing removing the differentiators and making, at least, the macOS line nothing more than a much marketed, hobbled PC. Removed MagSafe. Removed lighted Apple logo from laptops. Removed enough ports so that it cannot connect to any standard hardware. Removed reliability. Removed software flexibility. Etc.

Apple has become the Microsoft of the 90s in both hardware and software.
It's pretty simple. Spend your money elsewhere.

The rest of the world is going to move on.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
magbarn Avatar
21 months ago
Playing around my son's M1 MBA has me blown away. MUCH MUCH more responsive and much cooler than my wife's 2020 i5 MBA while getting superior battery life with an integrated GPU that is actually good.

I haven't been blown away in a CPU performance leap like this since Core2Duo that killed pretty much everything in the market 14 or so years ago.

Yes, AMD is close, but consuming 5X the power to get there.

I'm definitely a believer. I'm pretty sure Apple is going to wow us again with the higher end M1 variants with decent I/O and even better GPU.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamw Avatar
21 months ago
Great thoughtful interview. It really explains much of Apple's philosophy.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
justiny Avatar
21 months ago
The thought of upgrading my MBP 16” in two or three years to a machine that can potentially double performance and battery life makes me damn giddy. I don’t even care if it’s redesigned or not.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

m2 feature purple

Evidence of M2 Apple Silicon Chip Spotted Ahead of Apple Event on Tuesday

Sunday March 6, 2022 6:39 am PST by
Evidence that Apple is testing the M2 Apple silicon chip, expected to debut first in a new MacBook Air and refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro, has been spotted by a developer ahead of Tuesday's "Peek performance" Apple event. As reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, a "developer source" has informed him that in recent weeks, Apple has been testing a chip with an...
f1646764298

Apple Announces 'M1 Ultra' Chip With 20-Core CPU, Up to 64-Core GPU, and Support for 128GB of Memory

Tuesday March 8, 2022 10:28 am PST by
Apple today announced the M1 Ultra chip, the third iteration to the M1 family, and it represents the next "breakthrough" for Apple Silicon. M1 Ultra consists of two M1 Max chips connected with die-to-die technology called "UltraFusion." The new highest-end chip of Apple Silicon features 114 billion transistors, with higher support for bandwidth memory at 800GB/s. "M1 Ultra is another...
Intel Not Mac Pro Feature

Macs With Intel Processors Still Coming Amid Transition to Apple Silicon

Tuesday December 21, 2021 10:55 am PST by
While Apple is rapidly transitioning its Mac lineup from Intel processors to its own Apple silicon, it's worth highlighting as 2021 wraps up that the relationship between Apple and Intel hasn't been entirely severed as reports indicate Apple still has one more Intel-based Mac in its pipeline that's yet to be released. With the Mac Pro, Apple is not expected to entirely transition its most...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Again Rewarding Some Engineers With Up to $200K in Stock Bonuses

Friday March 25, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Apple is again providing stock bonuses to some engineers in order to encourage them to stay with the company, reports Bloomberg. Select hardware and software engineers are receiving bonuses of up to $200k, a rare offering from Apple. Back in December, Apple provided up to $180,000 in bonuses to select engineers in silicon design, hardware, and operations, while the new bonuses are going to...
General Dropbox Feature

Dropbox Planning to Add Native Apple Silicon Support to Mac App in First Half of 2022 [Updated]

Thursday October 28, 2021 6:41 am PDT by
Update 9:45 a.m.: In a reply on Twitter, Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston apologized for the confusion sparked by the "not ideal" support responses and said that Dropbox is "certainly supporting Apple silicon" with a native Apple silicon build planned for release in the first half of next year. Original article below. We're certainly supporting Apple Silicon, sorry for the confusion. We've ...
m1 pro vs max feature

Leaked Intel Roadmap Reveals More Efficient Chip Than M1 Pro and Max to Launch Within Two Years

Thursday February 24, 2022 2:11 am PST by
A leaked roadmap by Intel suggests that the company is developing a new lineup of CPUs that are targeted at outperforming Apple's 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips by late 2023, or early 2024, which would be almost two years after the new chips and laptop made their debut. The roadmap by Intel, initially leaked by AdoredTV and interpreted by Wccftech, explicitly states...
apple celebrates m1 year

Apple Engineers Celebrate End of First Year of Apple Silicon Transition With Special T-Shirt

Monday January 3, 2022 6:31 am PST by
Apple is gifting engineers and staffers who worked on the M1 chip a unique t-shirt to commemorate the end of the first year of the Mac's transition to Apple Silicon, according to an image shared on Twitter by an Apple engineer. Andy Boretto, who works at Apple as a senior software engineer, tweeted an image of a special t-shirt with the M1 chip and its accompanying glow, alongside a card...
onedrive m1 macs

Microsoft Releases Preview of Native OneDrive Client for Apple Silicon Macs

Wednesday December 8, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Microsoft today offered OneDrive users a pre-release version of its OneDrive syncing client for macOS that is optimized to run natively on Apple silicon. The official support for M1 Macs should make the OneDrive Arm preview run faster on Apple's latest machines, since the client will no longer need to go through Apple's Rosetta 2 translation layer. OneDrive users need to be in the Office ...

Popular Stories

macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
Mac Studio IO

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished Mac Studio Models

Thursday June 30, 2022 7:42 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling refurbished Mac Studio models for the first time in the United States, Canada, and select European countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, two refurbished Mac Studio configurations are currently available, including one with the M1 Max chip (10-core CPU and 24-core GPU) for...
top stories 2jul2022

Top Stories: M2 MacBook Air Release Date, New HomePod Rumor, and More

Saturday July 2, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
The M2 MacBook Pro has started making its way into customers' hands and we're learning more about how it performs in a variety of situations, but all eyes are really on the upcoming M2 MacBook Air which has seen a complete redesign and should be arriving in a couple of weeks. Other top stories this week included a host of product rumors including additional M2 and even M3 Macs, an updated...
original iphone 2007

15 Years Ago Today, the iPhone Went On Sale

Wednesday June 29, 2022 4:43 am PDT by
Fifteen years ago to this day, the iPhone, the revolutionary device presented to the world by the late Steve Jobs, officially went on sale. The first iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and went on sale on June 29, 2007. "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator... these are not three separate devices," Jobs famously said. "Today, Apple is going to reinvent the...
rootbug

Major macOS High Sierra Bug Allows Full Admin Access Without Password - How to Fix [Updated]

Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:33 pm PST by
There appears to be a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check. The bug, discovered by developer Lemi Ergin, lets anyone log into an admin account using the username "root" with no password. This works when attempting to access an administrator's account on an unlocked Mac, and it also provides access at the login...