In his excellent piece on Why Is Apple’s M1 Chip So Fast?, Erik Engheim summarizes Apple’s greatest advantage in the upcoming CPU wars.
Here we get a big problem with the Intel and AMD business model. Their business models are based on selling general-purpose CPUs, which people just slot onto a large PC motherboard. Thus computer-makers can simply buy motherboards, memory, CPUs, and graphics cards from different vendors and integrate them into one solution.
But we are quickly moving away from that world. In the new SoC world, you don’t assemble physical components from different vendors. Instead, you assemble IP (intellectual property) from different vendors. You buy the design for graphics cards, CPUs, modems, IO controllers, and other things from different vendors and use that to design an SoC in-house. Then you get a foundry to manufacture this.
Now you got a big problem, because neither Intel, AMD, or Nvidia are going to license their intellectual property to Dell or HP for them to make an SoC for their machines.
For Apple this is simple. They control the whole widget. They give you, for example, the Core ML library for developers to write machine learning stuff. Whether Core ML runs on Apple’s CPU or the Neural Engine is an implementation detail developers don’t have to care about.
Buckle in - we are in for a very interesting 2021!