Nvidia Is Ready To Create A Competitor To Apple's M1 MAX. We Recall The History of The Development of Microprocessors And Analyze What Can Be Expected From The Company


Apple's fall presentation this year turned the world of consumer electronics upside down. The company unveiled products that will define...

Apple's fall presentation this year turned the world of consumer electronics upside down. The company unveiled products that will define the company's face for the next decade - we are talking about Apple Silicone processors. At the moment, the devices have no competitors - they are the only ones of their kind. But they may appear soon. Let's try to figure out who it could be and what devices can turn the gaming industry over in the next few years.

Prerequisites for the creation of the ARM architecture

In order to better understand this issue, I propose to delve a little into the history of the creation of portable electronics and the emergence of microprocessors. Let's go back 40 years to the 80s.

In the photo below, Sophie Wilson is a famous British computer scientist. Wilson developed the Acorn microcomputer, the first in a long line of devices from Acorn Computers Ltd. Sophie also became the "mother" of the BBC Basic programming language and developed the ARM architecture instruction set used in most smartphones of the 21st century.

The main product of Acorn Computers in those years was a new microprocessor with a 32-bit data bus, an address space of 26 bits (64 MB), and sixteen 32-bit registers, which would later revolutionize the portable electronics market. It was introduced to the company in 1983.

The first versions had no cache and no firmware. The ARM3 version already had a 4 KB cache, which improved its performance. And in 1991, as a result of cooperation between Apple and ARM, ARM6 was born - with 35 thousand transistors.

ARM1 processor installed in an Acorn computer from Acorn Computers Ltd

The most successful was the ARM7 processor, which became the basis for hundreds of millions of microcontrollers and was present in almost every household appliance of that period.

Somewhere in the mid-90s, compact electronic devices began to gain popularity in the American market. You could take them with you on a trip, answer emails, listen to music, go online. The era of electronic assistants and PDAs began.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the first devices available to the mass buyer began to appear.

One of the first pocket personal computers that saw the light in the very early 2000s

These were PDAs from Sony, Casio, Compaq, Dell, and HP. There was no question of any unification then - each device had its own proprietary connector, its own OS, its own form factor, and its own set of features. Their historical feature was that the battery in most cases was removable.

Among the operating systems then reigned Windows Mobile 5.0 and Palm OS

The most popular was Palm OS. In 2003, about 20 smartphone models were released on it.

In 2007, it was renamed Garnet OS. And in 2009, a new version of the operating system was introduced, which was called Palm WebOS. Since 2010, it has been developed by HP, which acquired Palm. In 2012, the source codes for webOS were made public, thus the operating system began to be classified as free software. It was developed by LG Electronics, and today it is used exclusively for smart TVs.

The Sony CLIE is the first strong competitor in the portability market that Sony has introduced in opposition to the Pocket PC. A feature of the PDA was that it was controlled by the Palm OS 5 operating system.

But we have gone off-topic. Remembering PDAs and digital assistants of that time, one cannot fail to note the Sony CLIE PEG-NR70V. The device entered the market in 2002 and was equipped with a color screen with a resolution of 320x480 pixels, a QWERTY keyboard, a branded Jog Dial wheel, a slot for MemoryStick memory cards, and even a camera with a resolution of 320x240 pixels!

The power of the Motorola DragonBall VZ processor with a clock frequency of 66 MHz was absolutely not enough to play MP3, so the PDA was additionally equipped with a digital signal processor responsible for playing music in MP3 and ATRAC 3 formats.

Mass production of the above and many other devices became possible thanks to the development of Acorn Computers Ltd, which in the early 90s launched the production of microprocessors with low power consumption.

Herman Hauser and Chris Kari are the founding fathers of the Acorn microcomputer. 1978 University of Cambridge, England

Motorola, Intel and ARM microprocessors: how they differed and where they were used

Who was the competitor of Acorn Computers at that time and what did they offer the market?

Motorola 68000 is Motorola's family of CISC microprocessors, the main competitor of the Intel x86 processor family in personal computers of the 1980s and early 90s. The 68000 fell out of use as the basis for personal computers in the early 2000s due to a number of shortcomings compared to ARM processors. The family continues to be used in the embedded solutions sector, although even there it loses to more affordable and productive processors/controllers: ARM, STM32, AVR32 based on RISC architectures.

Motorola 68000 is a line of 32-bit CISC microprocessors. In the 1980s and early 1990s, they were used in personal computers and workstations. The most famous applications are the early Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Neo Geo, Sega Mega Drive, Atari Jaguar, and Commodore CDTV computers.

The first Apple Macintosh 128K computer, used a Motorola 68000 processor with a frequency of 7.3 MHz and 128 kilobytes of RAM

The Motorola 68000 line of processors has been used on systems ranging from Texas Instruments calculators to the Space Shuttle's critical control systems.

The Sega Mega Drive game console that used the Motorola 68000 processor

Motorola ended production of the 68000 series in 1994, losing a war with a new competitor in the form of ARM, which was winning in productivity. Therefore, the company focused on the PowerPC architecture, which was developed jointly with IBM and Apple Inc.

Another strong player was Intel with x86 processors. But neither the Motorola 68000 nor the Intel 8086 were suitable for portable computers. For one simple reason, even two. They used too much electricity and were too big for portable handheld devices.

“But what about desktop processors?” - you ask. The answer is transparent. They developed along the path of increasing cores, increasing frequencies, expanding the cache. Think back to AMD's debut with their first dual-core Athlon 64x2 processor in 2005. At that time, all AMD processors differed from Intel in a large amount of heat. And only the lazy did not joke, comparing system units with AMD processors with furnaces. Let me remind you that Ryzen will appear after as many as 12 years.

Early next year, the legendary Intel Core 2 Duo appeared. And at the end of 2006, a no less successful Intel Core 2 Quad model based on the Kentsfield core, was produced using a 65-nm process technology.

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6600

Every year, manufacturers introduced new models with the best technical performance.

What was the final market situation? There were two camps. On the one hand, there are energy-efficient processors that were used in wearable devices. And although they did not know how to cope with high loads, they consumed 5 watts at the peak.

On the other hand, there are high-performance CPUs that consume from 60 to 280 W, and they still need to be cooled somehow.

Presentation of M1PRO and MAX: a revolution in the technology market

And so it went until the autumn presentation of Apple, where the company introduced two truly revolutionary models of processors - M1PRO and M1MAX, which took the best of both worlds.

High power and low electricity consumption. “But what is so revolutionary there?” - you ask. The answer is money.

Apple will earn more by moving to ARM. They have been developing their RISC architecture for many years in processors from A4 to A13. Having all this, it is relatively easy to release three models of desktop processors to fill both the hi-end market segment and more budget niches. Intel, in turn, does not sell a license for the production of x86 to other companies, they say, buy a ready-made product with our margin and use it wherever you want.

But you can buy a license from ARM and make a profit from its sale. And, it would seem, how many pluses are there in the transition of all products to a common processor. And how much joy the developers will have because I wrote the program once and do not suffer further with versions for other platforms.

But the problem is not in the transition to a new architecture. As it was in 2006 from PowerPC to Intel.

IBM PowerPC is the first processor used by Apple after switching from Motorolla 68000

The problem is in the motivation of developers because you need to somehow force them to start mass developing applications for ARM. And Apple is the only company that can do that.

Has Apple opened the door to the electronics market again, pointing to a new level of achievement for competitors?

Who can create a competitor to M1MAX and why this device is needed

But let's look from a different angle. Which companies already have all the technology to create an M1MAX competitor? The answer may seem a little unexpected, but it is obvious. This is Nvidia. After all, to show the world your APU, you need experience in the development of both video accelerators and microprocessors. And now Nvidia has everything for this.

On September 14, 2020, Nvidia bought Arm for $40 billion from Japanese holding company Softbank. This is the largest deal in Nvidia's history and one of the most important for the entire processor industry. The deal is still pending antitrust approval, and if approved, Nvidia will have access to all of ARM's patents and designs.

The peculiarity and attractiveness of ARM for partners is independence and neutrality since the company does not compete with chip manufacturers. Its business model is based on making a profit from royalties, and not releasing its own processors.

But, it seems to me, the main purpose of the purchase is not to sell licenses. Could it be that the management of Nvidia appreciated the potential of the M1 and decided to release a revolutionary device after Apple? Which will compete with M1 MAX and M1 PRO or even surpass them.

A feature of the M1 is that it combines blocks with a computing processor, RAM, and a video card under its cover. Thanks to this approach, the device has minimal delays, which gives maximum performance.

M1 PRO is a system on a chip. This means that everything needed for a computer is already on the chip.

Perhaps, now within the walls of the corporation, work is in full swing on a new processor, because they now have everything for this. Intellectual property and patents of ARM and proprietary designs for ray-traced graphics cards.

The matter remains small: by signing cooperation agreements with Gigabit for the production of microcontrollers and motherboards, Nvidia will receive the same device as Apple.

It can be assumed that having experience in the development of video cards and gaming software, such as GeForce Now, a cloud gaming service, a new processor will be created for a new ray-traced gaming device. It will be unrivaled on the market and will be perfect for gaming.

If Nvidia decides to sell such a device in the $600 to $900 range, it will be a sensation. The cost of any top-end Nvidia video card this year, last year, and the year before last starts at a thousand dollars. And this is only a video card, and other components are also needed, and they also cost a lot. And here you get a finished product. Just take and use.

To date, there are several such solutions - this is Steam Deck, which uses AMD Zen 2 APUs with a quad-core or eight-core Zen 2 processor and RDNA 2 architecture.

Steam Deck is a portable console from Steam, available in December 2021 in the US, Canada, the EU, and the UK, and in other countries in 2022

This means that the CPU of the device is similar to the AMD Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors (introduced in 2019) and the GPU is in line with the graphics architecture of the Radeon RX 6000 series (introduced in 2020).

This roughly corresponds to a Ryzen 3 3100 processor (a $99 budget desktop processor), although the Steam Deck processor is slightly slower at 2.4-3.5 GHz. Likely an attempt to keep this chip within a rather limited power range, thus extending battery life and minimizing thermal requirements, the entire AMD APU in Steam Deck requires only 4-15 watts of power.

One Netbook OneXplayer is a gaming console announced on Indiegogo

The second alternative is One Netbook OneXplayer, which was created by the previously unknown company One-Netbook. This handheld game console was created with money raised on Indiegogo.

After more than two years of active work on the device, the creators still managed to bring it to mind. The novelty is completely portable, so you can use it anywhere and at any time without experiencing any difficulties and difficulties. Technical equipment meets all modern requirements and requests.

8.4" 2560 x 1600 pixel (Quad HD+) IPS display, 16GB LPDDR 4 X-4266 RAM, up to 2TB SSD, multi-fan cooling system, battery capacity 15,300 mAh, one full charge of which is enough for 6-9 hours of play, although it all depends on the load on the technical equipment, because the higher it is, the less the device will work on a single charge. In addition to everything, the device has a Bluetooth 5.1 LE and Wi-Fi 6 module, two USB 4.0 ports, a set of stereo speakers, and a fingerprint scanner.

The basis of the novelty may be the Intel Tiger Lake processor: Core i5-1135G7, Intel Core i7-1165G7, or Intel Core i7-1185G7, depending on the wishes of the buyer. The prefix is ​​available in three modifications, they differ from each other in performance and flash memory capacity.

The cost of new items starts at $699 for the base model, and the most powerful and advanced will cost $1499.

Aya Neo is a new game console being developed by a team from China

Player 3: Aya Neo with AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Hexa-core processor, AMD Radeon Vega GPU, 16GB DDR4-4266 LPDDR4X RAM, and 512GB PCIe MVMe SSD onboard storage.

The display with a diagonal of 7 inches has a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, and the battery capacity is 47 Wh. The set-top box will support Wi-Fi 6 technology.

A 47 Wh battery can officially provide up to six hours of operation, but in heavy games, this figure will not exceed two hours. But more importantly, Aya Neo supports a power-saving mode of operation with a fixed TDP of 5W (nominal 15W). It allows you to run not only emulators of old consoles, but also full-fledged PC games of past years or with little hardware requirements.

In games such as Forza Horizon 4, GTA 5, Doom Eternal, it is quite possible to get 60 frames per second by playing around with the settings, and new games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Crysis Remastered run at 30-40 frames per second. The obvious disadvantages include the relatively high cost of $600-700, which may increase in release versions, and the low autonomy of the set-top box.

As you can see, there is potential in this market and strong players have already begun to appear on it. Nvidia can now monopolize this industry in its infancy in one step. It remains only to wait for news: will Nvidia, with all the necessary devices, decide on a new revolution. We hope so, but only time will tell if this is the case.


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Digital Gamepad: Nvidia Is Ready To Create A Competitor To Apple's M1 MAX. We Recall The History of The Development of Microprocessors And Analyze What Can Be Expected From The Company
Nvidia Is Ready To Create A Competitor To Apple's M1 MAX. We Recall The History of The Development of Microprocessors And Analyze What Can Be Expected From The Company
Digital Gamepad
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