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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.”


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 doubles investment in its European Silicon Design Center

European Silicon Design Centre interior view

Apple today announced a major expansion to its European Silicon Design Center, which will see the company creating a custom-designed state-of-the-art R&D center in Germany.

The iPhone maker previously announced plans for a €1B ($1.06B) European Center for Chip Design in Munich, and says that it will be doubling its investment in the latest expansion plans …

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M2 Pro/Max vs M1 Pro/Max: How much faster are the newest Apple Silicon chips?

Apple launched its new M2 Pro and M2 Max custom silicon inside the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini machines. Along with more powerful CPUs, GPUs, and media engines, the chips support up to 96GB unified memory, and even 8K video output. Follow along for our detailed M2 Pro/Max vs M1 Pro Max comparison for how everything stacks up and how much of an improvement to expect.

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Kuo: Apple halts work on its custom Wi-Fi chip to prioritize 3nm Apple Silicon engineering

apple silicon transition

Apple is halting the development of its own custom Wi-Fi chip in an effort to direct more attention to Apple Silicon processors. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the “slowdown of processor upgrades” is a concern for Apple. Therefore, it wants to devote more resources to the development of 3-nanometer chips for Apple Silicon products.

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Which MacBook Pro should you buy? Here’s how they compare

MacBook Pro vs comparison

Powered by M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple Silicon, the most modern MacBook Pro laptops feature the most powerful CPU and GPUs (outside of the M1 Ultra), increased RAM, miniLED ProMotion displays, expanded I/O, and much more. Read on for an in-depth comparison of the 14 and 16″ MacBook Pro vs the 13″ M2 and 16″ Intel machines to help you decide which to pick.

Apple has announced the M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pro laptops, check out our full comparison on the new hardware:

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Gurman: Apple cancels plans for high-end ‘M2 Extreme’ chip, but new Mac Pro will retain expandability options for RAM and storage

Apple Silicon Mac Pro

Apple has apparently scrapped plans to make a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro with a high-end “M2 Extreme” chip featuring 48 CPU cores and 152 GPU cores. That’s according to Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter. Gurman also says the new Mac Pro will be manufactured in Vietnam, a stark departure from the “Made in USA” 2019 Intel Mac Pro.

The “Extreme” chip would have essentially been a dual M2 Ultra. But complexity and cost concerns seem to have shelved those plans. Gurman still says Apple is preparing to launch a new Mac Pro with an M2 Ultra inside, with a design that enables expandability of some components, like RAM and storage.

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Apple missed its two-year goal for the Apple Silicon transition, but does it matter?

apple silicon transition

Apple announced its plans to transition the Mac from Intel to Apple Silicon processors on June 22, 2020. At the time, the company said it would “ship the first Mac” with Apple Silicon by the end of 2020 and “complete the transition in about two years.” That two-year road map has passed, and Apple hasn’t completed the transition quite yet. Here’s what we’re still waiting on.

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Unreleased Macs spotted in new database ahead of rumored early 2023 launch

Apple Mac lineup MacBook Air Pro

Over recent weeks, we’ve seen some unreleased Mac hardware emerge via Geekbench testing results. Now, a pair of unreleased Macs has surfaced in another database: the Steam Hardware and Software Survey for November. This comes as Apple is widely expected to release upgrade versions of the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio sometime in early 2023.

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Apple buys HP’s 67-acre San Diego campus as it expands footprint and works on custom modem

apple silicon transition

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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M2 speed compared to every other recent Apple processor

M2 speed | 2022 MacBook Pro

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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These macOS Ventura features are exclusive to Apple Silicon-powered Macs


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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M1 Ultra benchmarks with real-life usage tests: 40% to 100% faster than M1 Max

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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Intel Meteor Lake chips may be made by TSMC, as it seeks to rival Apple’s M1 chips

Intel presentation slide on Meteor Lake chip plans | Intel Meteor Lake chips may be made by TSMC

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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Most M1 Mac Thunderbolt 4 ports don’t support the 10Gb/s transfers of USB 3.1 Gen 2, show tests

Photos of M1 MacBook Pro ports | Most M1 Mac Thunderbolt 4 ports don't support 10Gbs transfers

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’s M1 Ultra GPU comparison with Nvidia was misleading – Macworld

Apple's M1 Ultra GPU comparison with Nvidia was misleading

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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Mac Studio with M1 Ultra beats 28-core Intel Mac Pro in Geekbench score

M1 Ultra

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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What might we expect from M2 Mac benchmarks? Extrapolation may provide a clue

M2 Mac benchmarks extrapolation

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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TSMC reports record profits, has big expectations for next few years

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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