Apple recently announced the latest Mac Mini, Macbook Pro, and Macbook Air which now runs on Apple’s in-house chip that they call the M1. Since 2006, Apple has been using Intel for its Mac lineup but has been developing their own System on a Chip (SOCs) after the soaring success of their A-series mobile processors used in iPhones and iPads.
The M1 hosts an 8-core Central Processing Unit (CPU), up to 8-core Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), and a massive 16-core Neural Engine capable of executing a massive 11 trillion operations per second. In fact, with a powerful 8‑core GPU, machine learning accelerators, and the Neural Engine, the entire M1 chip is designed to excel at machine learning.
The chip hosts the components required for running the Mac lineup all in one place. Until now, a Mac needed multiple chips to deliver all of its features — including the processor, Input/Output (I/O), security, and memory. With M1, these technologies are combined into a single SoC. This means that the CPU, GPU, Random Access Memory (RAM), and other necessary components are all on the same chip, rather than being separate components.
The importance of this, according to Apple, is that there will be greater efficiency benefits as all the components are now tightly integrated and can work together more effectively. This approach isn’t new; Apple has been doing this on its mobile processors for a while now, again because it’s more efficient meaning better battery life.
Apple, as we say, is vertically integrated. It controls all the major critical parts of the chain used to make and sell products. Apple builds great hardware, owns the core software experience, optimizes its software for that hardware, nows produces its own chipset for Macs, and finally controls the selling experience through its own retail stores. This makes the experience seamless and highly efficient.
To me, the M1 marks the beginning of a new era for the Mac, just like the iPhone did for that market. But the beginning of what? No one knows just yet. Though it might take more time to get all the app developers to optimize their applications accordingly with the new architecture, I guess it is worth the wait. 2021 could be a big year for Apple. They might come up with new Mac line ups, a redesign of Macbooks, and also a new M processor.