PC 2020: Apple’s M1 chip breaks the X86 monopoly

On the night of the winter solstice on December 21, the two stars of Tumu were converging in the night sky. The once-in-800-year astronomical spectacle made the brightest stars in the night sky a few more. I took off my mask and looked up at the sky at 45 degrees. “This year will be like this… Next year will be a good year.”

Looking back at PC 2020 while looking into the distance

The new crown epidemic has undoubtedly brought heavy damage to the global economy and life. Only a few industries can survive the shadow of this epidemic. With the use of home isolation scenarios and the rise of remote video, online education, games and other industries, home computers have also ushered in an astonishing increase that has been rare in many years. It is expected that shipments in 2020 will exceed 300 million units! At the same time, Apple’s M1 self-developed processor, AMD grabbing shares, and the new form of flexible folding notebooks are taking turns. In the year of the epidemic, the PC market jumped out of its own rhythm and was surprisingly lively. The new year is approaching, let us look back at PC 2020 while looking into the distance.

status shakes Apple M1, wave of self-developed processors

The top news in the PC circle in 2020 is bound to be Apple’s self-developed chips and the new Macs equipped with M1 processors. In a nutshell, Apple’s move is expected to include its own ecological products, enabling iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iMac and other products to complete the closed-loop mobile ecosystem, bringing users a more seamless experience. At a macro level, the launch of the Apple M1 may be a great moment of profound significance to change the PC landscape .

There is a saying that I think is right. Apple has never been a creator, it is an optimization master.

Feature display of Apple’s first self-developed processor M1

If you look at the integration of mobile platforms, Microsoft and Intel’s attempts are earlier than Apple.

In the three or four years from 2012 to 2015, the Microsoft and Intel Wintel alliance wanted to promote the integration of mobile platforms. After Microsoft acquired Nokia, it launched one after another colorful Lumia phones, hoping to rely on Windows Phone phones and PC platforms to form a better integrated closed loop. Intel did not spend less money on the x86 architecture phones of the Atom processor. Intel not only deployed a large number of engineers to debug Atom, and made it adapt to Windows, but also adapt to Android. As a result, various problems in power consumption, performance, and application adaptation have emerged. . The integration from the mobile phone to the PC failed. Later, Microsoft also tried to make the 835 processor Win10 notebook directly from the PC. At that time, the first cooperation between Microsoft and Qualcomm caused a lot of market shock. However, everyone must know the results of these attempts, and without exception, they ended in failure.

Why is it said that Apple’s self-developed processor is useful for integrating mobile platforms?

The “optimization master” has actually played a lot of chess and arranged a lot of games in the past few years, and finally ushered in today’s node, including the previous system update and function design, which are all towards self-developed The direction is going. Compared with previous attempts by Microsoft and Intel, Apple has its own system ecology. macOS can adapt to x86 chips or ARM. At the same time, Apple has the ability to guide system migration. Important software service providers in the macOS system will almost Follow Apple to adapt to ARM overnight. Apple’s launch of its own M1 processor will undoubtedly completely control the software and hardware ecology.

Apple’s self-developed processor development needs most of the adaptation tools and time

Although Apple’s self-developed M1 processor is only compatible with MacBook and Mac mini, from the external evaluations and actual test performance since its introduction, Apple has reasons to continue to launch M1 follow-up products next year to continue to update products. Line, even more MacBooks, or iMacs and so on. Interestingly, Apple’s phased success may have greatly inspired the confidence of other technology giants in self-developed chips.

According to previously released foreign media news, Microsoft is likely to also launch a self-developed processor next year. Companies with an international vision such as Google and Amazon are also eyeing them. With Apple’s proofing, who will be the fastest to launch self-developed chips next year? Will some manufacturers follow the trend and launch notebooks with ARM processors? Let’s have a brainstorm.

The epidemic economy is driving PC shipments to 300 million. Is the sales volume short-lived?

If you want to select the top ten news of the PC industry this year, I think that the surge in PC shipments will be at least the top three. After all, computers have not experienced positive growth for a long time. Since the advent of the Apple iPhone in 2007, consumers’ mobile screens have been firmly occupied by touch-sensitive phones. The frequency of PC user usage and shipments have continued to decline. In recent years, PC manufacturers have had to make changes on their own. Separate product types, improve product forms, and launch game sub-brands to stimulate PC sales.

Unexpectedly, an epidemic that began at the beginning of the year directly took off the global PC sales. Because many users are isolated at home, doing remote learning, remote working, and playing games for entertainment, the demand for computers from family members becomes tense for a while, and users have to buy computers for their families.

IDC forecasts PC shipment changes and trends in the next 5 years

From the perspective of production, due to the surge in global demand for notebooks and desktops in 2020, the world is still in short supply. Suppliers including Intel and other upstream manufacturers and screen manufacturers are working overtime to produce, and the PC supply chain appears A tense situation not seen in years. According to the forecast data released by the well-known research organization IDC, global PC shipments will reach about 300 million units in 2020, and there will be a slight increase in 2021 due to the long tail effect.

Canalys released the changes in global PC shipments during the ten-year period from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2020

According to the report data released by the well-known research organization Canalys, in the third quarter of 2020, PC shipments were 79 million units, a year-on-year increase of 13%. It is estimated that by the end of 2020, PC shipments will reach about 300 million units, a year-on-year increase of 15%! At the same time, Canalys also predicts that next year’s PC trend will continue to be affected by the market’s long tail effect. It is estimated that the global PC and tablet installed capacity will reach 1.77 billion units, an increase of 130 million units from 2019.

Therefore, according to the research data of IDC and Canalys, if the expected 300 million units can be reached by the end of 2020, relying on market inertia and long-tail effect, PC shipments will not be short-lived, and the upward trend will remain at least until the end of next year.

The CPU share drops by 9% in a year. Can Intel, a 53-year-old comrade, still have enough food?

Intel, which was born in 1968, is already an evergreen tree among global technology companies. The problem is that the 53-year-old “old comrade” does not seem to have a smooth life in 2020.

Aside from 5G, AI, cloud computing and other businesses, Intel not only has to face potential competition from self-developed processors in the PC market, but also witnesses AMD grab market share with 7nm and high cost performance, while also lowering its head to polish its own GPU , Watching the stock price fall by 20% as if nothing happened.

The Intel 11th-generation Core and Iris Xe core display logos that broke out on the Internet

Yes, as I pointed out just now, Intel is facing a small difficult period.

From Intel’s perspective, just how big a splash Apple’s self-developed processors and Apple’s own systems can make, Intel really can’t intervene, after all, Apple is completely free to control core technology from software to hardware. Regarding the issue of self-developed processors, if only Apple can do it in the end and no longer continue to expand, then this may already be the best result for Intel. Whenever ARM-based self-developed processors can make a big wave in the PC market, it will be an unimaginable heavy blow to Intel, which has been working on x86 for decades.

Steam hardware statistics in December: Intel shares 73.49%, AMD shares 26.51%

AMD’s grabbing market share is a long story, and it should go back to 2016 when the Ryzen generation just came out. Now after 4 years of development, AMD’s processors are not only worthy of Intel in terms of high-end product performance, but also have a more affordable price. It is AMD’s old routine to use cost-effective advantages against Intel. This year alone, Intel’s processor share has dropped from 82% to the current 73.49%, a decline of 9%. On the other hand, AMD’s share has reached 26.51%, a record high in recent years. Going on with this tone, if no surprises, AMD’s share will continue to expand next year, users are not stupid, and the performance and price are all on the bright side.

Schematic diagram of Xe-LP architecture GPU that Intel is doing

In terms of GPU, AMD’s chief architect Raja has resigned from AMD to Intel for three years. Although Intel continues to release news of GPU development, there is still no shadow. It is widely speculated that if it goes well, Intel will release the latest GPU and graphics card products at Computex next summer, and it is said that it will use the 7nm process. We have to wait and see whether Intel’s graphics cards can compete with NVIDIA’s high-end products. In short, for Intel, 2021 is full of challenges.

Flexible folding, a new form of notebook?

The notebook has been developed for decades, and the basic structure has not changed. A screen and a keyboard form the basis of the notebook. The most significant morphological change during this period was undoubtedly the Intel Ultrabook Project. Thin and light, two-in-one has also become a common form of notebooks today. With the blessing of new technology flexible screens, will notebooks usher in a new form of change, turning them into half-folded screens?

Intel flexible screen notebook reference design engineering prototype displayed at CES

As early as at CES in January, PC manufacturers could not help but display prototypes of flexible screens for notebooks, including Intel, Dell, and Lenovo ThinkPad, which either showed or released notebook products based on flexible screens. In the following year, manufacturers continued to explore flexible screen products, and also released star like Huawei Mate Xs. However, one year later, the flexible screen does not seem to arouse much waves. It is still just a brand image product with a high level, and it has not really approached the market. This is true for mobile phones, let alone notebooks.

ThinkPad X1 Fold, the first folding screen notebook

To realize the new form of flexible screens on notebooks, there is still an important problem to be solved, that is, do you need a keyboard? As a general productivity tool, at this stage, a notebook without a keyboard is difficult to be a major task. This is actually a big problem in front of flexible screen notebooks. There are voices speculating that next year notebooks will usher in a new form of explosion after the blessing of flexible screens. For this kind of conjecture, I personally feel that the basis is not very sufficient and I am cautious. Speaking of the popularization of notebook flexible screens next year, I think it is really not as reliable as blindly guessing mobile phones.

5G, AI? Not as good as a good screen in the short term

At the end of this year, the domestic 5G network has basically covered every prefecture-level city. But looking around, there are not many users who actually use 5G , especially in the sinking markets of tier 2, 3, and 4 cities. The package cost of 100 yuan + is at least twice as expensive as the 4G package, and the signal coverage is not enough. For ordinary users, 5G not only brings faster download speeds, but it is theoretically faster to scan small videos. When you make a call, bring a video ring back tone. It seems that there is no reason to upgrade. This is actually 5G. Difficulties in popularization among users.

Samsung’s first 5G notebook, priced at RMB 16,000

This is especially true for notebook users. 4G was not successfully promoted on notebooks in the past, but can 5G be realized now? One word, difficult. Even if OEM manufacturers provide all products with 5G functions by default, users may not actually use them. Based on the current comprehensive needs of most users for PCs, usage scenarios, and actual needs for mobile networks, I think 5G may still be a mobile office method that only a few high-end users choose. I want to popularize 5G for notebooks next year or in a short time. It’s still quite difficult.

At this stage, AI functions are far more gimmicky than practical for notebooks

With the launch of Intel’s 10th-generation Core and 11th-generation Core, the application of AI technology on PCs has gradually come into people’s sight. Everyone suddenly realized that this thing is right by our side, and it is not very tall. However, after actual use, users find that AI’s functions such as photo enhancement, game sound enhancement, intelligent picture blurring, and intelligent noise reduction seem to stay at a more theoretical level, and the support of third-party software is the last word. It is true that these AI functions will play a huge role in the future, but at present, at least one year in the future, the application of AI on PC still needs to be patiently cultivated. For ordinary consumers, at least in the near future, there is no need to spend money on AI gimmicks.

In contrast, whether it is thin and light notebooks, gaming notebooks or Lenovo ThinkPad, which is known for its backward screen configuration, the display quality of notebook screens has improved at a speed that is visible to the naked eye in recent years. Looking at the current notebook market, products with resolutions below 1080p must be extinct, and 1080p and 2K resolutions firmly occupy the mainstream market. At the same time, the screens of various notebook products also provide users with a better experience in terms of color gamut, wide viewing angle, brightness, and refresh rate.

Will OEM manufacturers equip their high-end notebooks with Mini-LED technology screens?

The Mini-LED technology that has shined at CES this year has better dynamic range, better contrast and longer service life than the current highest-end OLED screens. It is believed that this technology will be used in the next year. Home use for flagship and benchmark products, and then lead the trend of notebook screens.

From aliens to low-end 2K-3K prices, it can be said that a good-looking screen has become one of the core competitiveness of the product. And next year, I think that as the epidemic factor fades, the production capacity of PC parts suppliers will gradually recover, and the price of notebook screen parts may be further reduced. More and more notebooks will be equipped with higher-quality screens to attract users. The trend of rapid display improvement will continue.

2021 is worth looking forward to

For Intel, 2020 is a difficult year. For Apple, 2020 is a year to fully demonstrate its innovative capabilities. For AMD, it is a year of steady growth and full stock. A sudden epidemic in 2020 has made the world re-examine the great value of the PC industry and embrace this “sunset industry” of the past decade. With annual sales of nearly 300 million units, this will be a huge carnival in the PC market in recent years. The PC market in 2021 is worth looking forward to!



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