New Apple M1 chip will make Macs faster, less power-hungry

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Apple M1 chip
Apple's new M1 chip will blow your socks off.
Photo: Apple

Apple on Tuesday delivered on its promise to unveil the first Apple Silicon chip before the end of 2020. Its brand-new M1 system-on-chip (SoC) promises industry-leading performance and power efficiency for the fastest, most impressive Macs to date.

The M1 chip is the first 5-nanometer computer chip, packing a whopping 16 billion transistors and the world’s fastest CPU cores. It also features an 8-core GPU that’s “in a class of its own,” Apple says.

Apple Silicon is the beginning of a whole new era for Mac. It’s also the beginning of the end of Apple’s reliance on Intel processors, which have been a staple of every Mac laptop and desktop since 2006.

Not only will Apple Silicon allow for faster, more secure machines that can be refreshed more regularly, but it means Macs will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps for the first time. It’s an exciting change — and it begins now!

Apple M1 chip a ‘major leap forward’

“Now it’s time for the Mac to take a gigantic leap forward,” said John Ternus, VP of Hardware Engineering at Apple, during today’s event. “M1 has been optimized for our most popular low-power systems, where small size and power efficiency are critically important. It is a stunningly chip and it ushers in a whole new era for the Mac.”

The new M1 chip is better than Intel’s latest notebook chips, which you’ll find in today’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, in almost every way. It features an 8-core CPU — the fastest Apple has ever built — that promises to be faster than rival laptop chips.

Four of those cores are high-performance cores that leap into action when you play games, render video, or carry out other processor-intensive tasks. The other four are low-power cores that keep your Mac running efficiently when you’re not pushing it too hard.

Apple says its new M1 chip is up to three times more efficient than the latest laptop chips from the likes of Intel and AMD, with the best performance-per-watt ever seen from a computer SoC. What’s more, it serves a number of key components that previously required their own chips, like I/O, memory, and Thunderbolt.

M1 also features Apple’s new unified memory architecture (UMA). This allows multiple technologies inside the SoC — such as the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine — to access the same data without copying it between multiple pools of memory, dramatically improving performance and efficiency.

The fastest integrated graphics

Combined with that CPU is the world’s fastest integrated GPU. It’s also an 8-core chip that’s capable of handling a staggering 25,000 threads simultaneously. It will power graphically-intensive apps and games that previously only discreet graphics chips could run.

“There has never been a chip like M1, our breakthrough SoC for the Mac,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, in a press release after the event. “It builds on more than a decade of designing industry-leading chips for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, and ushers in a whole new era for the Mac. When it comes to low-power silicon, M1 has the world’s fastest CPU core, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and the amazing machine learning performance of the Apple Neural Engine. With its unique combination of remarkable performance, powerful features, and incredible efficiency, M1 is by far the best chip we’ve ever created.”