IMO, what feels likely is Apple is no longer allowing the near unlimited SoC funding and focus on SoC performance anymore.The A7 genuinely shocked the tech world. Not only was it the first consumer ARM v8 ISA core, it was extremely fast, and it had a custom architecture. Ever since then, Apple has held an unprecedented lead in ARM CPU IPC (and performance, especially low threaded work).However, with other companies tying to squeeze in on Apple, the ever rising cost of Apple phones, and the backlash against the pricing, the Apple era of unlimited allowance for their SoC may have already come to an end. In that light, it makes sense why their lead SoC engineer is no longer working at Apple. The price/perf market for ARM SoC design says to just license a high end Cortex, like Qualcomm has finally resorted to (and to a lessor extent, Nvidia). Qualcomm use to have custom ARM CPU designs. Nowadays, they just license the Cortex IP and customize it. Nvidia still insists on their own CPU design, but they also use a lot of Cortex designs throughout their SoC designs (particularly the Cortex-R series).
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