Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Five reasons the Apple Studio Display ended up with an A13 processor

Ever since earlier this month, when Apple broke the minds—and bank accounts—of its devoted power users by delivering the unexpected announcement of a new and long-awaited Apple consumer display, the internet has been awash in rumors over one particular quirk of the monitor: Why does the Apple Studio Display contain an A13 processor, complete with 64GB of flash storage?

It’s a good question and one that we here at Six Colors couldn’t simply wave off under the guise of “managing the display’s ‘studio-quality’ sound and Center Stage.” That’s just what Apple wants you to think.

So we’ve been tirelessly chasing down leads to uncover what exactly the point is of building an iPhone-level processor that, as recently as two years and a half years ago was the company’s state of the art, into a glorified TV.

Although we have not yet been able to conclusively prove the purpose of this seemingly overpowered piece of hardware, we have narrowed down the field to the most likely rationales behind its inclusion, which we present to you now in order of their relative likelihood, from least to most.

The Studio Display is simply a stretched-out iPhone 11: It’s not the most reasonable answer, naturally. That’s why it’s at this end of the list. But we can’t discount the possibility that Apple has created some sort of physics-defying robot capable of stretching a 6.1-inch display into a 27-inch display. After all, they’ve already got a robot that takes apart old devices for recycling, and they’ve reportedly been working on foldable displays for years, so maybe they just stumbled into something.

The Studio Display is secretly a touchscreen device running iOS: Okay, a little more plausible. We’ve tried touching a Studio Display and so far all we’ve ended up with are fingerprints all over our brand new screen. But look, maybe Apple just hasn’t activated the secret features that will make the touchscreen spring to life, instantly eating the Surface Studio’s1 lunch.

Apple is using Studio Display’s processing power to improve machine learning: All those extra cycles, potentially going to waste. Surely there must be something useful to do with them? Well, there is, and its name is Siri. Clearly Apple’s voice assistant could use a little assistance of its own when it comes to understanding complex queries like “set a timer for fifteen minutes, no I didn’t say fifty minutes, I said fifteen, one-five, oh never mind.”

It was cheaper than giving everybody more iCloud Storage: You want to put your files somewhere? Great! Stick ’em in your display. By all accounts, the A13 only uses 2GB of that 64GB of storage, space—that’s 62GB of storage left over for all your pictures of brunch.

Just a ton of A13 chips left over: Tim Cook’s love of legacy nodes is well attested. Turns out he overcorrected a bit on his last order for processors, and ended up with a few gross of A13 chips dumped onto the loading dock at Apple Park. And you can’t just glue two of these suckers together to make an A13 Ultra, all right? But Cook wasn’t about to let those bad boys go to waste, so into the very next Apple product they go. You’re welcome.

Of course we may never know which of these very carefully researched and explanations is the correct one. That’s just how good Apple’s secrecy is. Don’t forget to tune in next week when we reveal the purpose of the M1 inside the next Apple TV Remote.


  1. Why is everything in a studio suddenly? Do this many people really have studios? In this economy? 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @dmoren@zeppelin.flights or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]


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