Apple Silicon Overview Updated August 2, 2022

Apple Silicon

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205 'Apple Silicon' stories

September 2010 - August 2022


What is Apple Silicon?

During its WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple officially confirmed its transition from Intel chips to its own Apple Silicon for the Mac. In addition to details for developers, Tim Cook announced that the first Mac with Apple Silicon would ship to consumers by the end of this year.

Apple M1

At its ‘One More Thing’ event in November, Apple officially announced its first Apple Silicon processor designed specifically for the Mac, dubbed the M1. The M1 chip features an eight-core design alongside a powerful Neural Engine and GPU, offering dramatic efficiency and performance improvements for the Mac.

With Apple controlling the processor in a Mac, it can offer significantly better software optimization than others like Intel. In the case of the Mac, this means that macOS 11 Big Sur is optimized specifically for the M1 processor. By creating the silicon themselves, Apple has much more control over how well macOS and a Mac hardware perform together. Even without touching on the technical specifications of the new M1 chip, the improved optimization in macOS should make for dramatic performance and reliability improvements.

Apple Silicon M1 performance

Using Apple Silicon in the Mac also means that the Mac can now run iPhone and iPad applications. While developers can opt-out of this, it means that you’ll be able to find iPhone and iPad applications in the Mac App Store for the first time.

  • iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac through the Mac App Store
  • Rosetta 2 translation allows you to run apps made for Intel Macs on Apple Silicon, and sometimes apps perform better in Rosetta with Apple Silicon’s M1 than they do natively with Intel, Apple says.
  • Universal apps are apps built for Apple Silicon and Intel processors and are downloadable from the Mac App Store or from the web.

When it announced the new M1 processor during the special “One more thing” event from Apple Park, Apple touted that it’s the “first chip designed specifically for the Mac.” It’s built using a 5-nanometer with 16 billion transistors, and Apple says it was designed “for Mac systems in which small size and power efficiency are critically important.”

As such, the M1 features industry-leading performance per watt. This is why the first Apple Silicon MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are able to offer such notable improvements in battery life compared to their Intel predecessors.

Apple Silicon M1

Apple Silicon’s 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.”

Apple also 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.”

M1 GPU

But the M1 doesn’t stop there: 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.

Apple Silicon Neural Engine

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 in the iPhone and iPad since the A11 processor was introduced in 2017. Neural Engine was something designed specifically for machine learning tasks like video analysis, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, photo scanning, and much more.

What’s next for Apple Silicon?

The M1 chip is just the beginning of a “new family of chips designed specifically for the Mac.” Again, the new M1 processor is designed specifically for lower-power machines where efficiency is especially important. Over the next two years, Apple will likely release new Apple Silicon chips for the iMac, Mac Pro, and higher-end MacBook Pros.

Apple Silicon Stories August 2

ExpressVPN has been updated to version 11.5.0 for macOS users. It finally brings native support for Apple silicon Macs, which means M1 and M2 Mac users can take full advantage of this VPN running natively on their computers.

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Apple Silicon Stories August 1

It’s been several years since Apple announced its intentions to move beyond its retail presence in San Diego and build a hub of hardware and software engineering. Now in what looks like the company’s first commercial purchase in the area, Apple has bought HP’s old 67-acre campus as it ramps up work on making an in-house modem and more.

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Apple Silicon Stories June 27

It wasn’t long after the new(ish) MacBook Pro went on sale that we got to see some M2 speed benchmarks. These confirmed Apple’s claims in terms of improvements over the base M1 chip, but also confirmed that, as expected, the M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra chips still leave the M2 in the dust.

A new comparison table shows how the M2 speed compares to every other recent Apple Silicon chip, from the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11, through to the M1 Ultra – and it makes for interesting viewing …

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Apple Silicon Stories June 7

As Apple continues the transition to Apple Silicon, it is also still supporting Intel-powered Macs with its latest macOS releases. macOS Ventura is capable of running on most every Mac release since 2017, including those powered by Intel as well as Apple Silicon. But with that being said, some of the new features of macOS Ventura are only supported on Macs powered by Apple Silicon.

According to Apple’s website, there are a few primary features in macOS Ventura that you’ll only be able to use if you have an Apple Silicon-powered Mac.

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Apple Silicon Stories May 18

We didn’t have long to wait after the launch of the Mac Studio to see a bunch of M1 Ultra benchmarks. These ranged from comparisons to the 28-core Intel Mac Pro to a comprehensive set of tests by Macworld.

A new set of tests not only aims to see how the M1 Ultra and M1 Max compare in real-life usage, but also when performing tasks specifically suggested by pro app users …

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Apple Silicon Stories May 9

Powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple Silicon, the latest MacBook Pro notebooks feature big CPU and GPU improvements, increased RAM, miniLED ProMotion displays, expanded I/O, and much more. Read on for an in-depth comparison of the 14 and 16″ new MacBook Pro vs the 13″ M1 and 16″ Intel machines to help you decide which to pick in 2022.

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Apple Silicon Stories May 5

Total War: WARHAMMER III for Mac is out now — Apple Silicon required

Get ready to conquer some daemons! Total War: WARHAMMER III is out now on macOS, but only for Apple Silicon Macs with M1 chip or higher – not Intel.

Apple Silicon Stories May 4

Intel last week provided an update on its 14th-generation Meteor Lake processors due to launch next year, but it seems that there may have been a crucial change to the company’s plans.

Intel has said as recently as last week that it would fabricate the chips itself, using a 7nm process, but a supply-chain report today claims that the company will instead outsource the work to TSMC, so it can benefit from the same 5nm process used for Apple’s M1 chips …

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Apple Silicon Stories May 2

After digging into Apple Silicon, researchers have discovered a new vulnerability that affects Apple’s latest M1 and A14 chips. The Augury Apple Silicon microarchitectural flaw has been demonstrated to leak data at rest but doesn’t appear to be “that bad” at this point.

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Apple Silicon Stories April 25

Over 18 months after the release of the first Mac powered by the M1 chip, Microsoft has released a version of Microsoft Teams that is optimized for Apple Silicon. While the Apple Silicon version of Microsoft Teams is not publicly available to Teams users yet, you can download it via the company’s website.

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Apple Silicon Stories April 18

Pro users of M1 Macs have reported disappointing transfer speeds with external SSDs, and tests appear to show that most M1 Mac Thunderbolt ports don’t support USB 3.1 Gen 2 – which means they don’t offer the maximum 10Gb/s transfer speeds that would be expected from Thunderbolt 4.

The tests were conducted on a 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Max, and a 2022 Mac Studio M1 Max …

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Apple Silicon Stories March 31

When Apple compared the M1 Ultra GPU performance to what was then Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card, the company’s chart and quote were technically true, but rather misleading, says Macworld.

Apple gave the impression that the M1 Ultra outperformed the Nvidia RTX 3090, but this was not the case – and will be even less so now that Nvidia has launched the 3090 Ti …

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Apple Silicon Stories March 21

The global chip shortage doesn’t appear likely to end any time soon. The manufacturer of crucial chipmaking machines has warned that its kit will be in short supply for another two years.

That’s particularly bad news for Intel as it seeks to play catch-up with the capabilities of Apple’s M1 chips …

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Apple Silicon Stories March 8

Apple on Tuesday introduced Mac Studio, which comes with the powerful M1 Max chip by default. However, the company also offers a more expensive model with M1 Ultra, a new Apple Silicon chip that is even faster than the M1 Max. To give us a better idea of that performance, a Geekbench test shows that Apple’s latest chip beats the 28-core Intel Mac Pro.

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Apple Silicon Stories February 17

There have been a number of reports of an M2 Mac this year, including the slightly odd idea of an entry-level M2 MacBook Pro model sitting below the M1 Pro and M1 Max models. We’ll need to see whether that happens and wait for M2 Mac benchmarks if it does.

But a new piece today suggests that we may be able to get a reasonably good idea of M2 Mac benchmarks by extrapolating…

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Apple Silicon Stories January 13

Apple chipmaker TSMC has reported record profits for the holiday quarter, comfortably beating analyst expectations. The company has also reported year-on-year revenue growth of 24.1%, a quarter of it generated by Apple.

TSMC, which makes Apple’s A-series and M-series chips, says that it has big expectations and big plans for the next few years …

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Apple Silicon Stories January 6

As Apple continues to transition the Mac to its own Apple Silicon processors, Intel isn’t looking the direction. As first reported by Tom’s Hardware, Apple’s director of Mac System Architecture, Jeff Wilcox, is departing the company to join Intel. At Intel, Wilcox will become an “Intel Fellow” and service as the chief technology officer of the design engineering group.

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Apple Silicon Stories November 22, 2021

While Apple has always offered Windows support on Intel Macs, new machines with the ARM-based M1 chip can only run macOS natively. The reason may be related to a special deal between Microsoft and Qualcomm that is finally coming to an end – and this means that Windows could finally be available natively for M1 Mac users.

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My shiny new 16-inch Apple Silicon MacBook Pro claims two big advantages over its Intel predecessor. First, the performance of the M1 Max. Second, power efficiency, aka battery life.

For my personal usage patterns, the two are quite distinct. The time when I want power is for video editing, when I’ll almost always be sat at my desk hooked up to a large monitor. When I want battery life, my typical usage is very different…

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Apple Silicon Stories November 10, 2021

It was November 10, 2020, when Apple announced its first ARM-based chip designed for Macs. Months after it was confirmed that Macs would get Apple-made SoCs, the M1 chip was introduced with the promise of not only reinventing the Mac but changing the entire computer industry. A year later, it’s safe to say that Apple has successfully accomplished this.

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Apple Silicon Stories November 8, 2021

With September and October Apple events out of the way, there are still some unannounced but eagerly anticipated Apple products to come by some point next year.

The September event saw the company announce the iPhone 13 lineup, Apple Watch Series 7, iPad mini, and the iPad 9. October’s Unleashed event added the long-awaited 14- and 16-inch M1 MacBook Pros, AirPods 3, and new HomePod mini colors.

But that still leaves us waiting for a number of as-yet unannounced products …

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Apple Silicon Stories November 5, 2021

A British singer-songwriter has recorded a unique MacBook Pro music video. Using her new M1 Max model, she recorded it using the machine’s built-in microphones and webcam!

Mary Spender used Logic Pro, which is a pretty demanding app, yet was able to do all the work on battery power – while screen recording at the same time – without the fans kicking in …

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Apple Silicon Stories November 2, 2021

Apple execs go in-depth on new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in ‘Upgrade’ podcast interview

The new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips inside the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models have proven to impress reviewers and consumers alike. Apple executives Tim Millet and Tom Boger recently joined Relay FM’s Upgrade podcast to talk in-depth about the new chips, the state of the Apple SIlicon transition, and more.

Apple Silicon Stories November 1, 2021

My shiny new Mac arrived on Friday, so after a couple of days of fairly extensive use, it’s time to give my M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro first impressions.

I haven’t used it for anything too taxing as yet, so this piece covers what I think of the design, the screen – including that infamous notch – the heat management, and an early look at real-world battery life …

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