Plenty of folks commented on what seems to be a comical distinction in the new MacBook Air specs, between the $999 base mannequin and the $1249 model.
Each fashions have an 8-core CPU with 4 carry outance cores and 4 effectivity cores, together with a 16-core Neural Engine. However whereas the higher-spec mannequin has an 8-core GPU – additionally seen within the new MacBook Professional and Mac mini – the bottom mannequin solely has a 7-core GPU …
On the face of it, it appears a weird level of differentiation. All of the extra so when the real-world efficiency distinction is prone to be slight. Why on earth would Apple select that as a spec distinction between fashions?
The reply is that the corporate isn’t fairly selecting that as a differentiator. The reason lays in one thing often known as chip binning.
No chip fabrication course of is ideal, and because the course of will get smaller, the challenges of manufacturing an ideal chip enhance. Whenever you’re working at nanometer ranges of precision, even the cleanest of fresh rooms will nonetheless comprise some microscopic parts of contamination. So what firms typically do is purpose for a selected spec, then separate out these chips which fall brief, and promote these as a lower-spec model. The chips are, within the parlance, positioned in a unique sorting bin.
That is what tends to occur with clock speeds, for instance. An ideal chip will be capable of run on the highest-rated clock pace, whereas a barely imperfect one would possibly overheat, however nonetheless be capable of function correctly at a considerably slower pace. So those which fail testing at full pace are bought as slower ones.
That’s what will likely be occurring right here. Apple isn’t asking TSMC to supply a model of the M1 chip with a 7-core GPU as an alternative of an 8-core one. Relatively, it’s taking these chips which suffered a tiny quantity of harm to the GPU such that solely 7 of the 8 cores work correctly. These are designated 7-core variations and allotted to the bottom mannequin MacBook Air.
The advantage of taking this strategy is price financial savings. As a substitute of throwing away the chips which don’t fairly stay as much as the complete spec, Apple is ready to use a few of them. That will increase yields and thus reduces prices.
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