For the longest time, Apple’s laptops and computers have been running on Intel’s processors. However, back in June this year, the Cupertino-based company announced that it will soon commence manufacturing its own computer processors, like it already did for its iPhones and iPads. This shift was because Intel was facing manufacturing problems and Apple needed to lower its reliance on the chip giant.
At its latest Apple event, the company introduced the new M1 System on Chip (SoC) with some notable claims and also introduced the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and a new Mac Mini, all powered by the new SoC.
Apple M1 SoC: Ahead of the competition
While processors for smartphones have progressed rapidly and are now being built on a 5nm fabrication process, things are different in the computer processor segment. Currently, AMD leads the industry with its 7nm Ryzen 4000 series of chips for laptops and Ryzen 5000 series for desktops. Intel is still stuck at 10nm architecture, while it keeps refining the fabrication process to deliver an uptick in performance.
Amidst the two chip giants, Apple has bagged the title of rolling out the first 5nm SoC. The M1 chip is also uniquely built as it incorporates multiple different chip structures on a single chip, hence an SoC. The DRAM or the memory is also placed within the chip, and so is the GPU, which has been upgraded to be faster and more powerful.
The M1 is an octa-core processor that employs four high performance and four high-efficiency cores. This configuration is similar to the big.LITTLE architecture ARM uses for smartphone processors, and it enables M1 to switch between higher performance when needed and conserve power, when necessary. While Apple made some bold claims regarding the chip’s performance, we can only be sure when some benchmark numbers arrive, and we see it dealing with real-world use cases.
New MacBook Air at the same old price
The 13-inch MacBook Air has been upgraded with the M1 SoC, which is claimed to help it push further in terms of both performance and battery life. As per Apple, the new MacBook Air is 3.5x faster in computation than the previous generation and is touted to deliver 5x graphical performance. ML or Machine Learning tasks are said to run 9x faster so that “ML-based features like face recognition or object detection can do so in a fraction of the time.”
In addition to the performance, the MacBook Air is supposed to deliver up to 15 hours of battery backup while browsing the web and up to 18 hours on video playback. The laptop should also be zippier, thanks to flash technology that helps deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance and M1’s storage controller.
In terms of display, there’s support for P3 wide colour gamut on the retina display. It offers Touch ID for login and the Secure Enclave chip is embedded within the M1 this time. The laptop features two Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support and there’s a Wi-Fi 6 chip on board for better connectivity.
The new M1 powered MacBook Air is priced starting at €1129.
New MacBook Pro comes equipped with M1 SoC
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro runs on Big Sur and features a slightly bigger form factor, which should enable the M1 SoC to stretch its legs a bit. As per Apple, the MacBook Pro’s new cooling system is 2.8x faster than the previous generation and it enables delivering 5x GPU performance, up to 11x faster ML processing. All this while being “up to 3x faster than the best-selling Windows laptop in its class.”
In terms of battery life, the MacBook Pro is touted to deliver up to 7 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 20 hours of video playback. The company says it has upgraded the mics on the laptop as well for clearer calls and audio recordings. The upgraded camera ISP may deliver sharper images and dynamic range during video calls. The laptop also gets two Thunderbolt ports that can output to Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution.
The new M1 powered MacBook Pro is priced at €1449.
Mac Mini gets a performance bump
Apple also announced a new and upgraded Mac Mini, which now runs on the new M1 SoC. The mini computer should also deliver the same 3x computing and 5x GPU performance over the previous generation. Apple compares the Mac Mini with the best-selling Windows desktop in its price range and claims that “Mac mini is just one-tenth the size, yet delivers up to 5x faster performance.”
The new Mac Mini features upgraded thermals to keep it cool while running heavy workloads. Additionally, it also supports up to two displays, including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution. There’s also a Wi-Fi 6 chip onboard for better connectivity.
The Mac Mini is available for €799. All the new Apple M1 powered devices are now available to order from the online Apple Store and the Apple Store app, with deliveries are slated to commence next week.
Image credits: Apple