Apple’s New M1 Chip

November 15, 2020

This past week Apple announced its new M1 chip with a special event. They updated three devices in their lineup with the new chip: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini. The new M1 chip has a new unified memory architecture, meaning this chip is a System on a Chip, or SoC. Apple claims this architecture leads to faster throughput for their systems. This new chip has an 8-core processor with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. It also contains an 8-core GPU and a 6-core Neural Engine to assist with Machine Learning and AI-related tasks. For the number crunchers out there, Apple is touting their new chip can do 11 trillion operations per second with its 16 billion transistors, all built on a new 5nm architecture.

This new chip will power three of Apple’s products, as I mentioned. First, the MacBook Air will bring 3.5x faster performance than its previous generation, 5x faster graphics, 2x faster SSD performance, and 15-18 hours of battery life, all with no fan. It starts at $999. Secondly, the 13″ MacBook Pro will have 2.8x the performance than its previous generation, 5x faster graphics, and 11x faster Machine Learning and AI processing with its new Neural Engine. It will have an astounding 17-20 hours of battery life and starts at $1,299. Finally, the third device to receive an update with the new chip is the Mac Mini. It will come packed with 3x faster performance than its last generation, 6x faster GPU performance, and 15x faster Machine Learning and AI performance, starting at $699.

To take full advantage of this new Apple Silicon, Big Sur is getting a major overhaul. But, don’t worry. Apple claims that you will still be able to run all your old x86 apps with Rosetta 2 on the new M1 chip. They are also introducing Universal Apps, which will contain both x86 and ARM binaries in a single download. Beyond the desktop experience, the M1 ARM chip allows Apple to also bring great iPad apps directly to Big Sur to fill the gap of native ARM-based applications.

MacOS Big Sur was available as of November 12, 2020. Big Sur supports the following hardware: MacBook (2015 or later), MacBook Air (2013 or later), MacBook Pro (Late 2013 or later), Mac Mini (2014 or later), iMac (2014 or later), iMac Pro (2017 or later), and Mac Pro (2013 or later).

Now, I want to leave you with a few things to contemplate after the big announcement:

  1. How much longer will Intel-based Macs be supported once all Macs get an M1 chip?
  2. How smooth will Rosetta 2 emulate x86 code?
  3. Will efficient will virtual machine software be running x86-based operating systems?

Head over to our Discord server to tell us your opinion of this change? It seems like ARM is finally having its day. What do you think?

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