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First Taste of Apple on Arm: macOS Benchmarks Arrive, Sans x86

(Image credit: Apple)

That didn't take long. Soon after Mac developers began receiving Developer Transition Kits, or DTKs, to begin the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon on Arm, public benchmark scores started popping up in the Geekbench database.

We first saw these through Twitter user Pierre Dandumont, who posted a link to a trove of scores, all of which are mostly in line with each other. These kits, based on the Apple A12Z Bionic and Mac Mini with a developer beta version of macOS 11 Big Sur, would be running Geekbench 5 through Rosetta 2 to emulate code for Intel's x86 processors.

The scores range from the mid 700's to the mid-800's on single-core and multi-core scores between 2582 and 2962.

Geekbench scores

(Image credit: Geekbench)

Take it with some salt, though: the Geekbench 5 results list a 4-core processor, but the A12Z Bionic uses four big cores and four little cores. It's possible it's misreporting the core count, or that it's only using the big cores here.

13-inch MacBook Pro scores uploaded today using macOS 10.15 Catalina and an Intel Core i5-1038NG7 are seeing single-core scores around 1,200 and multi-core scores around 4,400, but those aren't using emulation. A late 2018 Mac Mini is showing a single-core score of 1,015 and a multi-core score of 5,275, again, running natively. Comparatively, the DTK's multi-core scores look pretty solid, considering it's using Rosetta 2.

It's hard to compare this to Windows machines like the Surface Pro X, because Windows 10 on Arm can only emulate the 32-bit version of Geekbench.

This doesn't give us much of a view of how native apps will run on macOS using Apple Silicon, nor do we know the final specs of whatever chips will end up in Macs that sell to customers.

Developers who signed up for the transition kit had to agree to terms and conditions that say, in part, that they will not "display, demonstrate, video, photograph, make any drawings or renderings of, or take any images or measurements of or run any benchmark tests on the Developer Transition Kit (or allow anyone else to do any of the foregoing), unless separately authorized in writing by Apple[,]" so someone may get in trouble for this leak. 

  • joytech22
    That result is pretty good given it is emulating x86, but I feel the performance means if you already own a new-ish Mac/Macbook it might not be worth "upgrading" to the platform just yet - unless all of the popular applications are ported over to ARM natively and perform similar or better.

    New buyers or owners of older devices it would matter less, I have a 2013 Macbook Air that I might replace with one, who knows?
    Reply
  • DZIrl
    Real test will be when we will be able to compare ARM vs x86 Macs. Here with emulator is too many unknowns.
    Software emulator means x86 instruction interpreter, something like BASIC from ages ago and that's quite slow. Simply, even single byte x86 instruction will take multiple ARM instructions to do same job. Now imagine complex ones. Microsoft was not able to emulate x64 code on their ARM Surface. From article info it looks they just recompiled code but if they ran emulator then every other CPU company is finished. But I doubt it.

    Do not forget Apple is doing everything to fool users. Watch Linus video about MacAir how Apple already started. Spoiler alert, let's make slow Mac on purpose and then release new one without limitations.
    Reply
  • tom111111
    DZIrl said:
    Real test will be when we will be able to compare ARM vs x86 Macs. Here with emulator is too many unknowns.
    Software emulator means x86 instruction interpreter, something like BASIC from ages ago and that's quite slow. Simply, even single byte x86 instruction will take multiple ARM instructions to do same job. Now imagine complex ones. Microsoft was not able to emulate x64 code on their ARM Surface. From article info it looks they just recompiled code but if they ran emulator then every other CPU company is finished. But I doubt it.

    Do not forget Apple is doing everything to fool users. Watch Linus video about MacAir how Apple already started. Spoiler alert, let's make slow Mac on purpose and then release new one without limitations.
    Rosetta is not an emulator. That would be very slow. It translates the machine code.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    It's hard to compare this to Windows machines like the Surface Pro X, because Windows 10 on Arm can only emulate the 32-bit version of Geekbench.
    Isn't one of the key points about Geekbench that it's cross-platform?

    That said, I don't know if it's available for Windows on ARM.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    DZIrl said:
    Do not forget Apple is doing everything to fool users. Watch Linus video about MacAir how Apple already started. Spoiler alert, let's make slow Mac on purpose and then release new one without limitations.
    It's not users they're probably worried about. I think they're mainly concerned about competitors, which is probably why they put a CPU in it that's essentially a couple years old (A12Z is the same silicon as A12X). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think A13 already shipped in some iPhones or iPads, months ago.
    Reply
  • tom111111
    bit_user said:
    It's not users they're probably worried about. I think they're mainly concerned about competitors, which is probably why they put a CPU in it that's essentially a couple years old (A12Z is the same silicon as A12X). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think A13 already shipped in some iPhones or iPads, months ago.
    The current iPhone 12 has the A13 SoC.
    Reply