Apple’s M series chips were incredibly well telegraphed when they arrived in late 2020. Apple had been designing its own silicon since the A4 appeared in the iPhone 4 just over a decade earlier. The appearance of Apple’s in-house efforts in the Mac was really just a question of when, not if...
A lot of the interview is marketing fluff, but it's interesting fluff.
These are all verbatim excerpts from the article:
MAC RELEASE SCHEDULE
As far as the “when Macs” question goes, Millet and Borchers are both in the “when possible, ship” camp. Coming out of a period pre-M1, when many in the Mac ecosystem felt that it was being underinvested in, it’s clear that Apple wants to send a message that this is not the case and they never want that to become a meme again.
“As a silicon person, I know that technology moves fast and I don’t want to wait around. I certainly want to push hard, as you can imagine,” says Millet. “We want to get the technology into the hands of our system team as soon as possible, in the hands of our customer as soon as possible. We don’t want to leave them wondering…do they not care about us? A new phone shipped last year. Why didn’t the Mac get the love?”
“We want to reset to the technology curve and then we want to live on it. We don’t want the Mac to stray too far away from it.”
Millet says that Apple’s work on cracking the gaming market started with the early days of the Apple silicon transition.
“The story starts many years ago, when we were imagining this transition. Gamers are a serious bunch. And I don’t think we’re going to fool anybody by saying that overnight we’re going to make Mac a great gaming platform. We’re going to take a long view on this.”
“My team spends a lot of time thinking about how to make sure that we’re staying on that API curve to make sure that we’re giving Metal what it needs to be a modern gaming API. We know this will take some time. But we’re not at all confused about the opportunity; we see it. And we’re going to make sure we show up.”
He also acknowledges that it will take time to build an installed base of strong GPUs in order for it to be enticing to the AAA space.
He acknowledges that Apple needs to do work to bring game developers along the road to adoption, but he says the company is happy that they’ve shipped the core ingredients in very performant systems. He says that the team has been and will continue to look at a variety of chip configurations and components through that gaming lens as well. Anyone who games on the Mac should find room for encouragement in the way Millet says that the team is focusing here, though time will tell.
Millet also is unconvinced that the game dev universe has adapted to the unique architecture of the M-series chips quite yet, especially the unified memory pool.
“Game developers have never seen 96 gigabytes of graphics memory available to them now, on the M2 Max. I think they’re trying to get their heads around it, because the possibilities are unusual. They’re used to working in much smaller footprints of video memory. So I think that’s another place where we’re going to have an interesting opportunity to inspire developers to go beyond what they’ve been able to do before.”
[My editorial comment on the last paragraph: You're talking about establishing a large installed base of gaming-capable machines, which makes sense. But the percentage of users that will have 96 GB RAM anyways for non-gaming reasons is going to be quite small; and, at what Apple charges for RAM, the percentage of gamers that will buy 96 GB RAM for gaming will likewise be tiny. So it seems unlikely game developers will optimize games to take advantage of so much RAM. A more reasonable statement would have been to mention that having, say, 32 GB available for CPU+GPU is going to become increasingly common on AS.]