Macs with AI-focused M4 chip launching this year


Apple M4 (concept) for Mac and iPad
The AI-enhanced Apple M4 is coming to every type of Mac, and sooner than some might think.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Mac users won’t need to wait until 2025 for the Apple M4 processor, according to a reputable Apple tipster. The replacement for the current M3 will emphasize AI — and will start appearing in Macs this autumn.

A previous report said improvements in the upcoming Apple A18 iPhone processor, also launching this fall, will focus on artificial intelligence, too.

Apple M4 is coming in 2024 with AI smarts

Apple already made clear that 2024 will bring a big AI push from the iPhone-maker. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for Apple with GenAI and AI,” CEO Tim Cook said in February. “We’re excited to share the details of our ongoing work in that space later this year.”

This apparently includes both software and hardware. Bloomberg reported Thursday that the company is preparing multiple versions of the M4 processor for the full range of macOS computers starting this autumn. And the chip supposedly emphasizes AI.

“The M4 chip line includes an entry-level version dubbed Donan, more powerful models named Brava and a top-end processor codenamed Hidra,” reported Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman. “The company is planning to highlight the AI processing capabilities of the components and how they’ll integrate with the next version of macOS, which will be announced in June at Apple’s annual developer conference.”

More AI cores?

A previous report from a separate source already spilled that the M4 will benefit from an upgraded Neural Engine. This section of the chip is dedicated to running AI tasks locally. It already handles voice recognition, offline Siri and other similar tasks.

The M3 processor packs a 16-core Neural Engine. It’s likely the next-generation chip will come with more.

Every Mac gets M4

New Apple M3-powered Mac desktops and MacBooks launched in autumn 2023 and winter 2024, and these supposedly will be replaced after about a year. The end of 2024 and the beginning of 2025 will bring “new iMacs, a low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro, high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and Mac minis — all with M4 chips,” reports Bloomberg.

“The Donan chip is coming to the entry-level MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Airs and a low-end version of the Mac mini, while the Brava chips will run the high-end MacBook Pros and a pricier version of the Mac mini,” the story continues. “For the Mac Studio, Apple is testing versions with both a still-unreleased M3-era chip and a variation of the M4 Brava processor. The highest-end Apple desktop, the Mac Pro, is set to get the new Hidra chip. The Mac Pro remains the lower-selling model in the company’s computer lineup, but it has a vocal fan base. After some customers complained about the specifications of Apple’s in-house chips, the company is looking to beef up that machine next year.”

The MacBook Air reportedly will get the next-generation processor in the first part of 2025. And the M4 chips will come to Mac Studio in midyear and Mac Pro later in the year, according to the story, which was based on anonymous sources. Apple declined to comment, and Bloomberg said “the company’s plans could change.”

A18 brings an AI bump to iPhone 16, too

Each generation of Apple silicon is made up of variations on a single chip, no matter if they’re for Mac, iPhone or iPad. That’s true of the M3 and A17 processors, and will surely hold true for the M4 and A18. So it should surprise no one that the A18 is also expected to get an AI boost thanks to an upgraded Neural Engine.

That’s because AI isn’t only for macOS.  Previous leaks point to iOS 18 also getting additional AI capabilities, possibly with the assistance of Google Gemini for Generative AI.

We’ll know for sure in June at WWDC24 when Tim Cook and other Apple executives take the stage to announce what’s coming next.


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