Apple Watch’s Latest S8 Chip Has the Same CPU Running in S7, S6 SoCs for Previous-Generation Models

Apple Watch’s Latest S8 Has the Same CPU Running in S7, S6 SoCs for Previous-Generation Models

The Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and the low-cost second-generation Apple Watch SE all feature the same S8 SoC. Unfortunately, apart from a name change, this chip runs the CPU as the previous-generation S7 and S6 silicon featured in previous Apple Watch models.

Apple’s S8 Chip Has the Same Identifier as the Previous Two Versions, Implying That It Is the Same Silicon With a Different Name

A disappointing revelation found by MacRumors is that the S8 chip has the same T8301 identifier as the CPU running in the S7 and S6. For those that do not know, the Apple Watch Series 7 features the S7, while the Apple Watch Series 6 was outfitted with the S6. This means that all SoCs feature 32GB of internal storage and dual-core CPUs. This revelation would also explain why Apple does not compare its latest S8 chip to the S7 or S6 since they are the same but are stamped with a different name.

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For many years, Apple has used TSMC’s cutting-edge technology to develop its custom chips. The technology giant will eventually move to the 3nm process for the M2 Pro, M2 Max expected to be found in updated high-performance MacBook Pro models, and the A17 Bionic for next year’s iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The S8, S7, and S6 are all based on the A13 Bionic, found in the iPhone 11 family and mass-produced on TSMC’s 7nm architecture.

What is puzzling about this is why Apple never gravitated to improved manufacturing processes and stuck with the same one for three generations. The answer may lie in diminishing returns. Switching to TSMC’s more advanced processes would mean increased costs for Apple, with little gains. With the Apple Watch lineup, custom chips powering the innards do not need to prioritize performances and would benefit from improved efficiency since it is a product category that needs more battery life advantages.

The decision to continue using the S8 for the Apple Watch Ultra might also seem unfair to consumers since they have to fork in more money than the remaining two models while getting an older chip in return. Perhaps when Apple gravitates to the 3nm architecture, which commands better power savings, we will see an improved S9 found in updated smartwatch models.

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