First benchmarks surface for Apple’s ARMbased Developer Transition Kit

Apple developers have started receiving their Developer Transition Kit hardware, which Apple is distributing to developers to help them get their apps ready for the upcoming range of Apple Silicon Macs, which will replace Intel CPUs with Apple-designed ARM CPUs.

Despite the confidentiality clauses in the developer agreement, benchmarks for the Developer Transition Kit have already surfaced on Geekbench. Note that these tests are running under virtualization, using Apple’s Rosetta technology, as the Geekbench testing software has not yet been optimised for Apple Silicon.

The machines seem to be achieving around 800 on the Geekbench v5 single core test, and around 2600 on multi-core.

For comparison, the entry-level $999 2020 MacBook Air achieves a Geekbench score of 1005 on single core and ~2000 on multi-core.

This means Apple’s ARM test hardware is benchmarking, running non-natively via Rosetta, about the same as a 2020 MacBook Air. Running through Rosetta will hurt performance, although we don’t have enough information about Rosetta 2’s performance characteristics for ARM translation to know exactly how much. Developers estimate the performance penalty could be around 25-40%.

Interestingly, the Geekbench submissions reports that the Developer Transition Kit (which resembles a Mac mini) is a four-core machine. The A12Z chip actually has eight cores, four high performance and four low-power efficiency cores.

Also remember, the Developer Transition Kit is purely meant for developers to port their apps and the hardware Apple will ship to customers will undoubtedly feature much higher levels of performance. It is powered by a largely-unmodified A12Z chip, which Apple designed around the power budget of the 2018/2020 iPad Pro, the product it was originally used in.

Apple’s ARM Mac laptops, and desktops, will have much larger efficiency budgets to play with (in both thermals and battery) which will allow optimized to chip to hit higher levels of performance.

Last week, Apple announced it would ship its first Apple Silicon Mac by the end of the year. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple’s first Apple Silicon Mac will be a replacement for the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

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