Dylan Patel, in a post with a laughably doom-and-gloom headline that nevertheless makes some interesting points about Apple’s chipmaking division and the A15 processor:
It appears Apple has not changed the CPU much this generation. SemiAnalysis believes that the next generation core was delayed out of 2021 into 2022 due to CPU engineer resource problems… Instead of a new CPU core, they are using a modified version of last year’s core. One of these modifications is related to the CPU core’s MMU. This work was being done for the upcoming colloquially named “M1X” generation of Mac chips. Part of the reason for this change is related to larger memory sizes and virtualization features/support.
Apple has, according to multiple sources, had a bit of a brain drain from its chipmaking division recently—Patel says Apple’s chief CPU architect and 100 other engineers left in 2019 to create a startup that was bought by Qualcomm, and more recently a new startup was founded with more senior Apple engineers.
Is that the reason for the A15 not being potentially as huge a performance leap as recent generations? Maybe. What about COVID? Seems possible. And, as Patel points out, Apple’s chip architects have also had to do extra work to create chips that fulfill the needs of the Mac, and that’s not nothing.