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Apple Captures 90% Share of Arm PC Chip Revenue: Report

Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's transition to its own custom Arm-based system-on-chips enabled the company to increase its systems' sales and made it a dominant supplier of PC-grade Arm SoCs. As for Arm, its instruction set architecture now commands nearly 9% of the global PC market. 

"Apple established itself as a distant market leader in Arm-based notebook PC processors with almost 90% revenue share [in 2021]*," wrote Sravan Kundojjala, Director of Handset Component Technologies service at Strategy Analytics.  

Companies like Acer, Dell, and HP have been shipping Chromebooks and Windows-on-Snapdragon always-connected PCs (ACPC) based on various Arm-powered SoCs for years. However, these PCs have never been truly popular due to mediocre performance and/or uncompetitive pricing. With its M1-based iMacs, MacBooks, and Mac Minis introduced in 2020 and throughout 2021, Apple not only managed to offer competitive performance and appealing design, but it also priced those systems very competitively (e.g., below previous-generation systems featuring Intel's CPUs). So, it attracted sales both from its loyal customers and from new clients. 

Apple outmaneuvered Arm-based Chromebooks and ACPCs in terms of sales and in revenue since its systems are still premium machines priced well above average Chromebooks.  

Since Qualcomm's Nuvia-based SoCs will not launch until late 2023, Apple will continue to offer the fastest Arm-powered SoCs for PCs and will likely lead the market in Arm desktops and laptops for quite a while. 

"Apple's M-series family of processors set the benchmark and gave Apple a 2–3-year lead over the rest of the Arm-based PC processor vendors. Qualcomm captured just 3% revenue share in the Arm-based notebook PC processor market in 2021 and lags Apple in CPU performance," wrote Kundojjala. "Despite its low share, Qualcomm continues to invest in notebook PC processors with its Nuvia CPU cores. We believe that Arm-based notebook PC processor offers an attractive opportunity to Qualcomm, given the company's growing collection of high-performance processor assets including CPU, GPU, AI, audio, imaging, connectivity, gaming and security." 

The industry shipped around 348.8 million PCs in 2021 and 80.5 million systems in Q1 2022, according to IDC. Sales of Chromebooks totaled 37 million units in 2021 as well as 5.1 million systems in Q1 2022. In the first quarter, Apple shipped 7.2 million Macs and had a market share of 8.9%.  

Since the vast majority of Apple's PCs solid in Q1 this year were powered by its own Arm-enabled SoC, it is clear that Arm commands a sizeable share of the PC market due to Apple's M-series SoCs alone. Meanwhile, there are also several popular Chromebooks based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon as well as MediaTek SoCs. While those systems are not as popular as Apple's MacBook Air or MacBook Pro laptops, it is safe to say that Arm's share in PCs is at least 10%, a significant achievement for the British CPU designer. 

It should be noted that for now, Arm-based SoCs power mainstream and even entry-level workstation machines, but they still cannot compete against high-end x86-powered desktop PCs, especially in the field of gaming. Therefore, Arm, Apple, and Qualcomm still have a lot of work to do in a bid to successfully compete against AMD and Intel across all fields.  

*Note: Since Strategy Analytics does not disclose how it estimates revenue that Apple gets for its notebook processors, our story is focused on volume sales of Apple Macintosh systems in 2021 (27.775 million) and in Q1 2022 (7.2 million) compared to shipments of Chromebooks in 2021 (37 million) and in Q1 2022 (5.1 million). We also note that the vast majority of Chrome OS-powered machines use x86 processors from AMD or Intel.

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • ezst036
    We are in a very interesting place that between Linux and Mac, Microsoft is close to dipping below 75% usage where in times gone by, they enjoyed well over 90%.

    https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/desktop/worldwide
    Apple is not my cup of tea but I do wish them well.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    Apple is in a weird spot really. I wish they had better support for hardware/software (written on stone 7 years instead of sort of, maybe increase to 10 years to compete with Microsoft's support).
    That being said, as-is, the only thing they don't have vs Windows, besides the software, is massive backwards compatibility, but that also allows them to drop legacy stacks and move quickly.

    For personal computing, they're also a damn good proposition, including a decent proprietary productivity suite, media suites, and even notes application.

    Microsoft of course, on the other hand, has at least two decades of software support for games and other software, which, if you stay with them and don't mind security, will give you a different kind of bang for the buck, plus massive hardware support, and ARM on windows, though weaker, for the go is VERY decent, besides gaming, and provided their machines can run Linux, the hardware can go on living.

    It is crazy that they took over though, but they've been at it with the mobile efficiency and power, my open source linux mobile devices while great, can't hold a candle to a 5 year older Apple device in power and efficiency, nor screen to be honest, and don't even have the capacity to pump as many devices either.

    I have a Pine64 ARM laptop for some light development, and while it's great for its price, you could not get one for the longest time. I hope someone can do something similar for the education market or Microsoft partners with them, because x86 needs a kick in the arse.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Sleepy_Hollowed said:
    It is crazy that they took over though,
    The article is about ARM PCs, they didn't take over they just now (with M1) created the market, before that we had like a couple of random companies releasing a couple of random PCs with ARM and nothing more.
    Reply
  • setx
    TerryLaze said:
    The article is about ARM PCs, they didn't take over they just now (with M1) created the market
    They didn't create anything – just moved their market. People who buy those (in market-significant amount) buy them because it's "Apple", not because it's "ARM". You can stick that logo on anything and the same people would still buy it.
    Reply
  • rluker5
    Sleepy_Hollowed said:
    Apple is in a weird spot really. I wish they had better support for hardware/software (written on stone 7 years instead of sort of, maybe increase to 10 years to compete with Microsoft's support).
    That being said, as-is, the only thing they don't have vs Windows, besides the software, is massive backwards compatibility, but that also allows them to drop legacy stacks and move quickly.

    For personal computing, they're also a damn good proposition, including a decent proprietary productivity suite, media suites, and even notes application.

    Microsoft of course, on the other hand, has at least two decades of software support for games and other software, which, if you stay with them and don't mind security, will give you a different kind of bang for the buck, plus massive hardware support, and ARM on windows, though weaker, for the go is VERY decent, besides gaming, and provided their machines can run Linux, the hardware can go on living.

    It is crazy that they took over though, but they've been at it with the mobile efficiency and power, my open source linux mobile devices while great, can't hold a candle to a 5 year older Apple device in power and efficiency, nor screen to be honest, and don't even have the capacity to pump as many devices either.

    I have a Pine64 ARM laptop for some light development, and while it's great for its price, you could not get one for the longest time. I hope someone can do something similar for the education market or Microsoft partners with them, because x86 needs a kick in the arse.
    I mostly agree with you, from the standpoint of a Windows user that just does mainstream stuff. Like web browsing, light office, media and gaming. I can use linux, just not well and have had mostly android phones, but have had an iphone and even an x86 phone. Compared to x86 (core version, not atom) android anything is buggy, laggy, hitchy. Apple typically doesn't visibly hitch, it just sticks (discreetly freezes). As far as I know arm can't keep up in gaming handhelds like the steam deck and all of the others (some have arm versions that cost and perform less) And even modern flagship arm chips don't noticeably exceed 2015 Broadwell Y flagships for fanless tablets/convertibles in typical user experience. Older atom chips also are buggy, laggy, hitchy and use similar power as arm.

    Sure high end arm may bench better at the same power and are better when you compare them running some tiny cache sized app compared to some 15 year old desktop program, but on the other hand with Windows x86 you get the full experience, not some version stripped down to run on smaller, slower, lesser devices.

    And a lot of the problems you hear about third hand are exaggerated and taken out of context. Like Alder lake running hot. Sure you can make it use 300w by changing some settings and giving it a workload meant for a GPU, but it generally runs at less and can be tuned (with Windows power plans no less) to run basically any game at 60fps at an average of 30w on the cpu side, and generally in the 20s. This includes everything the CPU would do. Unfortunately Windows default power plans inflates this to 50-100w and that is what the uninformed or unengaged user would see. But it really doesn't matter to them on the desktop.

    Windows is wasteful here because there isn't as much need for efficiency. Windows would rather have 100 background processes running in hopes that you appreciate one than have very few running in hopes you appreciate your CPU being nearly completely idle and ready. Or would rather you have massive programs than neat little apps because they seem more deluxe or something (I appreciate the deluxe versions, but others clearly do not). Or have your cpu jump up to 5ghz at several times the power consumption as 3ghz doing something like reading a disk or loading a web page when you are only saving a few milliseconds and would never notice the difference. But there is both good and bad in this depending on your priorities. On one hand you can control your hardware better, but it isn't as easy to shrink what Windows wants to do.

    It really isn't x86's fault, more Windows. And if you compare performance per transistor with Apples new chips to x86 you find Apple needs several times the transistors for the same performance.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    I am surprised they did not capture more market share. Most Windows based ARM systems are a dismay to use due to poor optimisation. Having used an M1 MacBook Air for close to a year, I have to say I was pleasantly and positively surprised at the performance and battery life. It’s no gaming machine, which is why the adoption is still low. Other reason is likely the cost. The M1 MBA is not that expensive, but if any upgrade is required, the cost will shoot through the roof very quickly.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    rluker5 said:
    And a lot of the problems you hear about third hand are exaggerated and taken out of context. Like Alder lake running hot. Sure you can make it use 300w by changing some settings and giving it a workload meant for a GPU, but it generally runs at less and can be tuned (with Windows power plans no less) to run basically any game at 60fps at an average of 30w on the cpu side, and generally in the 20s. This includes everything the CPU would do. Unfortunately Windows default power plans inflates this to 50-100w and that is what the uninformed or unengaged user would see. But it really doesn't matter to them on the desktop.
    I would argue the real problem with desktop setups is the default profile across the board, including Windows, is simply "performance at any cost." Though Windows only plays a small part of it. I did find out that its default turbo boost behavior is aggressive, and you can modify the registry to change this behavior including disabling turbo boost entirely (without needing to restart the OS, so that's a plus).

    The major player though is simply how the hardware was configured at the firmware level. By default, a typical Ryzen processor at full boost will want 1.45-1.5V. I'm sure Alder Lake is similar. However, this is a problem as voltage contributes a heck of a lot more to power dissipation than frequency. In my case, I was able to undervolt the processor by about 0.2-0.25V at full turbo boost and power consumption dropped from 85-88W to ~75W. However, what I found is if I disabled turbo boost, I only lost about 20% performance, but power consumption dropped to 40-45W.

    rluker5 said:
    Windows is wasteful here because there isn't as much need for efficiency. Windows would rather have 100 background processes running in hopes that you appreciate one than have very few running in hopes you appreciate your CPU being nearly completely idle and ready. Or would rather you have massive programs than neat little apps because they seem more deluxe or something (I appreciate the deluxe versions, but others clearly do not). Or have your cpu jump up to 5ghz at several times the power consumption as 3ghz doing something like reading a disk or loading a web page when you are only saving a few milliseconds and would never notice the difference. But there is both good and bad in this depending on your priorities. On one hand you can control your hardware better, but it isn't as easy to shrink what Windows wants to do.
    It doesn't really matter how many processes they're running if they're not doing anything. Yes you could argue "but sometimes they need to be checked on and those add up!" but in the grand scheme of things, it's not going to be the energy hog you'd be tempted to think it is. On my computer at work riddled with every IT app under the sun, I'm running with 266 processes. Compare this to say what Apple probably thought was a typical setup:
    https://help.apple.com/assets/61526CB54192845C4361C44A/61526CC14192845C4361C452/en_US/5cd2f58c94da7aae950c06bb3836963b.png
    561 processes? Jeebus, and people call Windows "bloated". And a cursory glance on the internet shows me this seems pretty typical.

    Sleepy_Hollowed said:
    It is crazy that they took over though, but they've been at it with the mobile efficiency and power, my open source linux mobile devices while great, can't hold a candle to a 5 year older Apple device in power and efficiency, nor screen to be honest, and don't even have the capacity to pump as many devices either.

    I have a Pine64 ARM laptop for some light development, and while it's great for its price, you could not get one for the longest time. I hope someone can do something similar for the education market or Microsoft partners with them, because x86 needs a kick in the arse.
    It also depends on how much the computer manufacturer tuned their system on the firmware level, in addition to how much system software is available for your system to manage it better. Apple has the advantage of needing to cater to comparatively few hardware setups. Meanwhile Linux distros that aim to have basically an easy out-of-box experience, unlike say Gentoo, have to ship with a generic "works on most machines" configuration. Whether or not the OS can figure out what sort of bespoke software can be used on the machine for better efficiency is another thing.

    While it's a sample size of 1, I put Zorin OS on my Dell XPS 13 and doing light tasks it does see battery life times that can rival say the Intel MacBook Air or 13" MacBook Pro. But then again, Dell has put in the effort to supporting Debian based Linux distros, at least for the XPS line.
    Reply