On the 10th of November when CEO Tim Cook and his top executives unveiled the M1, the first computer chip designed in-house, the Mac got a new lease of life. For years, Apple has been accused of not doing enough to change the course of its Macs, but now they have taken the first step in that direction by announcing the first homemade chip for its computers. The M1 chip features an eight-core design alongside a powerful Neural Engine and GPU, offering dramatic efficiency and performance improvements for the Mac.
The message is loud and clear: the Mac is freeing itself from the clutches of Intel, the chip giant that has been powering Apple’s laptops and desktops since 2006. The transition from Intel to ARM-based Apple Silicon is seen as a breakthrough moment in tech, and it could well change the future of Mac. But how does Apple benefit from all this, So let see some of the claims of apple on this M1 chip but first of all we have to take a look at the chip.
What is the apple M1 chip?
The M1 is the name of the chipset that powers Apple’s new lineup of Mac computers: a new MacBook Air, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini desktop computer. Previously, Apple Macs were powered by Intel processors, and Apple had to go by Intel rules. That dented Apple’s plans to refresh its Macs as frequently as it does for the iPhone and iPad. With the M1, Apple has not only designed its computer processor for the Mac but it has full control of the whole process, from start to finish.
FEATURES OF CHIP
At the heart of the M1 chip is an 8-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. The high-performance cores each provide industry-leading performance for single-threaded tasks, and Apple says they are “the world’s fastest CPU cores in low-power silicon.” Interestingly, Apple says that the four high-efficiency cores deliver “outstanding performance at a tenth of the power.” In fact, the high-efficiency cores are so powerful themselves that they deliver similar performance to the dual-core Intel MacBook Air while being much more efficient.
In total, Apple says that the eight cores work together to provide “incredible compute power for the most demanding tasks and deliver the world’s best CPU performance per watt.” Early indications from experts are that the M1 chip will live up to the hype.
It also features up to an 8-core GPU, which can execute 25,000 threads concurrently. Apple says that this means the M1 can handle “extremely demanding tasks with ease.” According to Apple’s data, the M1 has the “world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer” with 2.6 teraflops of throughput. What does all of this mean for real-world usage? We’ll learn more once the first M1 Macs are available, but theoretically, it means that you’ll be able to do things like play Apple Arcade, edit videos, power a 6K external display, and more with ease. The new MacBook Air can be specced to include a 7-core version or an 8-core version of the GPU.
The M1 chip also brings Apple’s industry-leading Neural Engine to the Mac for the first time. The M1 Neural Engine features a 16-core design that can perform 11 trillion operations per second. Apple has used the Neural Engine on the iPhone and iPad since the A11 processor was introduced in 2017.
What kind of improvements can you expect with the Neural Engine? Think of the Neural Engine as something designed specifically for machine learning tasks. This includes things like video analysis, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, and much more. Apple M1Many modern applications increasingly rely on machine learning for everyday tasks, so the Neural Engine in the M1 chip will play a very important role. It works in conjunction with the CPU and GPU to power your Apple Silicon Mac.
UNIFIED MEMORY AND SSD PERFORMANCE
M1 also features a unified memory architecture that brings together high-bandwidth, low-latency memory into a single pool within a custom package. This allows all of the technologies in the SoC to access the same data without copying it between multiple pools of memory, further improving performance and efficiency. And for SSD storage, Apple has included a new high-performance storage controller with AES encryption hardware for improved security and faster performance. Apple says the new M1-powered MacBook Air offers up to 2x faster SSD performance.
SECURE ENCLAVE AND ISP
The M1 also features Apple’s Secure Enclave to handle things like Touch ID authentication and other security tasks. This isn’t the first time Apple has brought the Secure Enclave to the Mac, though. In previous Macs, Apple included the Secure Enclave in the T1 or T2 chip, but now it can be integrated directly into the M1. Apple also says that the M1 chip packs the latest image signal processor for higher quality video with better noise reduction, as well as improved white balance and greater dynamic range. This is how Apple is claiming the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have better webcam quality, despite retaining the same 720p camera.
APPLE M1 LIMITATIONS
The new Apple M1 chip is not without limitations, which is to be expected since this is the first-ever chip designed by Apple for the Mac. According to some tech experts, they said. The first Macs to be powered by the M1 chip are the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and 13-inch MacBook Pro.
You’ll notice that all three of these machines feature two USB-C ports that support USB 4 and Thunderbolt. It is likely a limitation of the M1 controller that it only supports two ports. Secondly, you’ll notice that the M1 Macs max out at 16GB of RAM, while Intel Macs can go significantly higher. The same also applies to SSD storage, where M1 Macs are limited to 2TB but Intel Macs can go to 4TB and even beyond. Again, these are likely limitations of the M1 chip.
NOT ALL MACS WILL GET THE NEW CHIP RIGHT AWAY
Apple was excited to announce these first Arm-based Macs, they also made it clear that the transition for the entire Mac line will likely take several years. In particular, the company’s highest-performing iMacs and the Mac Pro will undoubtedly continue to use x86 processors – and even see upgraded versions of them – well into 2022.
One of the other interesting potential outcomes of Apple’s move to Arm-based processors is the potential positive impact it could have on Windows-based computers that use Qualcomm’s 8CX processor (such as the Microsoft Surface Pro X), which is also based on Arm technology. To date, these Windows-on-Arm PCs haven’t sold in large quantities, but Apple’s effort could be seen as further legitimizing the technology. Plus, it’s possible that software translation efforts from developers like Adobe and others in moving x86-based Mac apps to Arm-based Macs could also encourage and speed up the process of moving from x86-based Windows to Arm-based Windows PCs.
The two types of Arm chips aren’t identical, so there will be extra effort involved, but it will certainly be interesting to see. Plus, all the Windows-based Arm devices include a built-in cellular modem, primarily 5G, which is an added benefit that Apple did not choose to integrate into this first-generation Mac-focused Arm processor. Ultimately, this move by Apple is the kind of development that, ironically, the company hopes most people won’t notice. What they want to do is to continue the evolution of the Mac with new components that they believe can make their computers work faster, longer, and more effectively. It’s certainly a valid strategy and one that will be interesting to watch play out over time.
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