The two new chips were described by Apple executives as “breakthrough” and “groundbreaking.” The M1 Max “is by far the most powerful chip we’ve ever built,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, during the “Unleashed” presentation.
At first glance, they appear to be a pair of wicked-fast but battery-sipping beasts that blow Intel out of the water.
Apple’s M1 Pro is a system on a chip, unifying the the processor’s main CPU cores, GPU cores, the machine-leaning Neural Engine and special ProRes video-enhancing accelerators onto one chip. Both feature an Apple-designed media engine for accelerating video processing while preserving battery life.
The M1 Pro chip packs more than 33.7 billion transistors — twice the number of transistors in the M1. It comes with eight high-performance cores, and two high-efficiency cores.
The chip supports up to 32 GB of unified memory, which is shared with the chip’s 16 GPU cores. According to Apple, this results in 70% faster CPU performance than the M1, and twice the GPU performance. Apple also built in ProRes encoding and decoding into the chip.
The M1 Max chip is even more of a beast. It boasts an incredible 57 billion transistors, plus up to a 32-core GPU.
Pixar making Toy Story: 1bn transistors.
One MacBook Pro: 57bn transistors. https://t.co/rhtL2iNNjx
— Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) October 18, 2021
The M1 Max supports up to 64GB of unified memory, and boasts 400 gigabytes per second memory bandwidth. Apple says it is up to 4x faster than M1.
Apple executives spent some time talking about the chip’s performance versus power consumption, which by far exceeds that of rival chips. The M1 Max, for example, can performance as well as the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops, but uses up to 100 watts less power.
The new chips made their debut in a pair of new MacBook Pros also unveiled at the “Unleashed” event. Apple also said the new chips will power the future of the Mac’s “Pro” lineup, which will likely include new but as-yet-unannounced iMacs and Mac Pros.