During Apple’s M1 Development Phase, COVID-19 Forced Engineers to Install Cameras in Labs and Inspect Every Chip Remotely

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced several companies, including Apple, to overhaul day-to-day operations, which was a completely new challenge. The ‘work from home’ culture came into effect, forcing new measures being undertaken by the company’s chip team to inspect every M1 unit before it went through an official launch.

Needless to say, Apple’s engineers did a fantastic job with the final product, despite the fact that they had to dynamically change the way they work. Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji, discusses these challenges, how they overcome these barriers, and more, in the latest interview.

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Srouji Reportedly Did Not Want to Delay the M1 Launch, so He Devised a New Way on How Its Validation Phase Would Be Completed

Talking to The Wall Street Journal, the paywalled report (via MacRumors) discussed with Srouji on how he and his team, who are over a thousand engineers and located in different regions, handled the global health crisis.

“What I learned in life: You think through all of the things you can control and then you have to be flexible and adaptive and strong enough to navigate when things don't go to plan. Covid was one for example.”

When COVID-19 forced countries to commence their lockdown, Apple had begun validating the M1. This involved carefully inspecting the chips, their transistors, and every component that was a part of the M1. Unfortunately, these engineers had to be present on-site to finish the validation process and with COVID-19 present, that would not be possible.

To scale this obstacle, Srouji's team set up cameras throughout labs that they would then use to remotely inspect each and every chip. Naturally, the entire process had strict rules in place so that Apple’s competition would not be aware of the M1’s progress.

“Delaying the progress of new chips wasn't an option. So Mr. Srouji worked to design a new testing process on the fly. The team set up cameras throughout the labs so engineers could inspect the chips remotely, people familiar with the work said. It was the kind of change that would have once been hard to imagine from Apple, where secrecy and control are paramount.

In part, the operation was able to pivot so seamlessly because Mr. Srouji's team is spread out around the globe, already accustomed to conducting business through video calls and working across time zones as they coordinated work in far-flung locations such as San Diego and Munich, Germany, two places where the company is investing billions to expand into designing chips for its wireless-technology capabilities.”

What consumers got was an astounding piece of computer engineering that not only outperformed chips in the same weight class, but the M1’s power-efficiency improvements meant that any portable Apple product at the time housing a battery would deliver unrivaled endurance. Apple has so far introduced its most powerful custom chipset, the M1 Ultra, with rumors claiming that an even more powerful silicon is being readied for the upcoming Mac Pro.

News Source: The Wall Street Journal

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