Mac ARMs defy skeptics: Early Mac mini developer tests let Surface Pro X bite the dust

The transition from Macs to “Apple Silicon” represents a radical change for these computers, which leave the chips from Intel behind. The change raises many questions, but one is obvious: How powerful will these chips and Macs be?

Now we start to glimpse the answer: the first performance tests of the developer teams. better than Surface Pro Xs with more powerful chips from Qualcomm, and they also do so with a major drawback.

A performance that stands out and promises above all

Several were the developers who used the famous Geekbench 5 benchmark to publish the results that the Apple Developer Transition Kit (DTK) showed in this test.

So the DTK with a two-year-old iPad chip runs x86_64 code, in emulation, faster than the Surface Pro X runs it natively ? Oh boy Qualcomm, what are you doing next?

– Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) 29 juin 2020

This « Mac mini ARM » is a team that Apple has started to send to developers to move their applications to new processors and thus prepare for the transition. It’s a team with an Apple A12Z SoC, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD and that it has macOS Big Sur preinstalled in its developer version and that it also has the Xcode development platform.

The scores in Geekbench 5 of these teams are remarkable: taking the average of several published results the team obtains 811 points in Single Core and 2871 points in Multi Core in this test. A Surface pro X based on the Qualcomm SQ1, the company’s most powerful chip – which runs at 3 GHz – for Windows 10-based convertibles, hits 726 in single-core and 2,831 in multi-core.

As our colleagues at SamaGame explain, this is even more remarkable when you consider that the DTK Geekbench works in emulation via Rosetta 2 with a processor from two years ago that runs at a lower frequency (2.4 GHz vs. 3 GHz in Snapdragon SQ1 cores) and which is theoretically at a disadvantage.

Doing a bit of math on the A12Z benchmarks against the DTK, Rosetta runs at around 70% native performance – on an iPad chip that’s essentially two years old, not designed for macOS. I imagine Geekbench does the static and JIT translation, so static applications can be faster

– Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) 29 juin 2020

Developer Steve Throughton-Smith reported that, according to their accounts, Rosetta 2 allows the benchmark run at around 70% of what the native app would perform. It also has merit because the chip is, as we say, already veteran and not designed to run macOS. In fact, other developers point out that it only uses four of the A12Z’s eight cores (the four most powerful, yes).

All of this suggests that Apple’s leeway here is remarkable, and of course the performance of these « raw » computers is promising for future Apple computers that they have dedicated chips and their power will theoretically be higher, as they are not designed for mobile phones or tablets, but for laptops or all-in-one computers such as the iMac.

What happens when comparing with Intel machines?

The truth is that comparing this Developer Transition Kit with the Apple A12Z with a Surface Pro X may not be so striking when precisely what is expected is how future ARM Macs will perform. compared to equivalent machines based on Intel microphones or AMD.

At the moment, there are no direct tests to make this comparison, but we have, for example, the analysis made by SixColors. MacBook Air with Core i5 in its latest edition 2020.

When comparing the performance of these devices with that of the 2018 iPad Pro, the results were also surprising in favor of Apple’s ARM chips. In the Geekbench 5 test IPad Pro outperformed MacBook Air in single-core and multi-core benchmark performance.

The iPad Pro (2018) chip is actually the Apple A12X, while the Apple A12Z used in these Apple DTKs is according to experts a « refined » version of the previous one with one more core for your GPU.

It should be noted that in this comparison iPad Pro ran Geekbench version for iOS and its micro ARM while the MacBook Air was running the version for macOS and its micro Intel with an AMD64 / x86-64 architecture. Compared to the Surface Pro X that « Mac mini ARM » was running Geekbench for Intel via emulation, we insist, which puts it at an even greater disadvantage when checking data.

It remains to be seen how far Apple can go with these future Macs based on “Apple Silicon”, but of course these early data – and everything we’ve seen before – makes the expectations remarkable for these teams.

Source : Engadget