Apple Silicon Overview Updated November 22, 2021

Apple Silicon

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189 'Apple Silicon' stories

September 2010 - November 2021


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 November 22

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

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

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

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

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

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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Apple Silicon Stories October 28

Intel will (sort of) beat Moore’s Law to overtake Apple, claims CEO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has been somewhat upbeat about the company’s chances of overtaking Apple’s vast lead in chip design, and now claims that Intel will achieve this by beating Moore’s Law …

Apple will in future be able to assess the Apple Silicon environmental impact at an early stage in chip design, thanks to taking a lead role in a new research initiative.

The program is likely to help with Apple’s stated environmental goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2030.

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Latest update: Dropbox says Apple Silicon support in the works – see bottom of piece.

Dropbox M1 support still hasn’t arrived, even after Apple launched its new MacBook Pro models that run on more powerful versions of the chip. Worse, the company claims there isn’t yet enough support for the idea to make it a priority. (This statement was made by a company forum rep who was unaware of the position.)

The Mac app only runs on M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max machines under Rosetta, which reportedly kills the battery and uses a gig of memory …

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Apple Silicon Stories October 26

Apple’s lead over Intel when it comes to laptop chips is undeniable, even by the US chipmaker itself. A deep dive showed that the new MacBook Pro competes against even the best desktop PCs powered by Intel chips, with a similar story emerging against ultra-high-end GPUs.

There have, though, been those suggesting that the lead is either slim or temporary. Two high-profile names dispute this claim: former Mac chief Jean-Louis Gassée, and ex-Windows president Steven Sinofsky.

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Apple Silicon Stories October 22

With the Apple Silicon transition in full swing following this week’s announcement of new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, Apple executives say there is still a lot more to look forward to. In a new interview with Wired, Apple’s Johnny Srouji, John Ternus, and Greg Joswiak talked in-depth about the new MacBook Pros, what the company learned from the 2016 MacBook Pro refresh, and more.

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Apple Silicon Stories October 19

The highly anticipated MacBook Pro updates are officially here. Powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple Silicon, the hardware features big CPU and GPU improvements, increased RAM, all-new 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.

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It’s felt like a long wait from the M1 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, but the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models are finally here. The predictions I made back in May were both correct: I was indeed unable to resist the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the price did indeed hurt!

Most of the rumors turned out to be correct – including the late one of a display notch to house an improved camera within much smaller bezels …

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Apple Silicon Stories October 18

Intel’s Apple Silicon take has so far mostly consisted of mocking Macs and describing all the ways in which the company thinks PCs are better. But the chipmaker’s CEO now seems to be rethinking this stance, describing Apple Silicon Macs as “pretty good,” and acknowledging that Apple Silicon is ahead of Intel’s own chip designs.

However, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger seemingly thinks he can still win back Apple’s business – one way or another …

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Apple Silicon Stories October 12

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is showing as unavailable for pickup at many Apple stores, with online orders showing delayed shipping too.

That is naturally creating speculating about an imminent launch of the upcoming M1X model – which turned out to be correct!

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Apple Silicon Stories October 7

Rumors have long suggested that Apple is working on a new MacBook Pro refresh with Apple Silicon on the inside, a new design, and much more. As rumors gain steam about a release within the coming weeks, many would-be MacBook Pro buyers are debating whether to buy now or wait. Here’s what we recommend.

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Apple Silicon Stories October 5

Eyebrows were raised during the iPhone 13 keynote when Apple said nothing about the A15 performance gains, choosing to compare its latest model against Android competitors rather than against the iPhone 12.

Some suggested that this indicated very little improvement in performance, but a new analysis suggests that although the A15 isn’t massively different to the A14, Apple has still managed to push the chip hard …

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Apple Silicon Stories October 4

As Apple continues the incredibly successful transition to Apple Silicon chips in the Mac, Intel continues to downplay the threat. The chipmaker has posted a new video on YouTube in which it claims to have brought Apple fans “together to help them see the power of PC.”

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Apple Silicon Stories September 23

A chart showing iPhone performance gains over the years shows that diminishing returns have largely set in, but the overall gains are still impressive.

In particular, if you upgrade every three to four years, as the average smartphone user does these days, you’re going to see around a doubling in performance …

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Apple Silicon Stories September 3

An Apple job ad reveals that the company is exploring the use of RISC-V chips, an open-source processor tech that competes with the ARM architecture used for Apple’s A-series and M-series chips.

However, while some are suggesting that this points to the company seeking to replace ARM-based processors, that’s an extremely unlikely scenario …

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Apple Silicon Stories September 1

It appears that Google was inspired by Apple when it comes to the benefits of custom-designed chips. The company had already confirmed that the upcoming Pixel 6 smartphone will have a Google-designed System on a Chip (SoC), and a new report today says that the company is taking the same approach for future Chromebooks.

Google’s decision is said to have been prompted by Apple’s success with its M1 Macs

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Apple Silicon Stories August 24

A leaker with a good track record says that the upcoming Apple Silicon 14-inch MacBook Pro CPU will be identical to that of the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

This would represent a significant shift from Intel Macs, where Apple had reserved the fastest processors for the larger machines …

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Apple Silicon Stories August 1

When Apple first announced its plans to transition from Intel to Apple Silicon at WWDC 2020, the company said it would take around two years to fully complete the transition. Now, a new report from Bloomberg details the Apple Silicon roadmap and what to expect over the next 12 months.

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