Chip ahoy: Apple's new M1 debuts on three Macs
Full transition to in-house processors to take two years
Apple on Tuesday announced a major shift in its computing prowess, introducing new Macs that will now use the company's very own processor.
And unless Apple pulls off another surprise event, the 'One more thing' virtual gathering — the company's third major one in two months — caps off a busy year that has seen Apple release more products in this time of the year than ever before — an "unbelievable pace", Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
"In the midst of enormous challenges this year, our teams have remained focused and they haven't stopped innovating," Cook said in his keynote.
The shift comes at a key time for Apple — and the computing industry in general — given the transformation of the work and education industries owing to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced more remote and work from home endeavours.
In its recent fourth-quarter results, Apple posted a new high for Mac revenues, raking in $9.032 billion, a 29.2 leap from the year-ago period.
Apple has been, as a matter of fact, used Silicon for a decade now, and is the "heart" of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch; the first two use the 'A' series, while the last utilises the 'S' line-up. The current incarnations are the A14 Bionic and S5, respectively. The company has been using Intel chips on its desktops and laptops since 2006.
The move also allows Apple to further expand its ecosystem: Using their own chips will allow apps from its App Stores to migrate easily to Macs, an opportunity that can be pounced on by its developers.
Apple says all of its Macs will be fully transitioned to Silicon chips in the next two years. But to start off the new era, the company introduced a trio of devices — a MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook pro and Mac mini — that will debut the all-new M1 system-on-chip (SoC).
Before the new M1-powered Macs, all of Apple's computing devices used multiple chips, each with specific purposes, including for memory, security, controllers for input/output and the CPU itself; the M1 SoC integrates all of these into one.
This, in turn, allows significantly better performance while being extremely power-efficient and without compromising on security. Apple says that, compared to other high-end laptops, the M1's power-efficiency is up to three times better, with graphics twice faster — the world's fastest integrated graphics, as explained in the event.
The M1 is also the first chip built on 5nm architecture, using transistors at atomic size, which total 16 billion. It's also capable of executing 11 trillion processes in a second, at par with the latest iPhones.
Aside from the M1 chip, Apple's newest laptops boast one more major upgrade — significantly-improved battery life.
The new MacBook Air, Apple's thinnest laptop, features a silent, fanless design and promises up to 3.5 times faster CPU speeds, five times more powerful graphics and nine times better machine learning — plus now up to 18 hours of battery life.
On the other hand, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro has up to 2.8 times improved CPU performance, up to five times faster graphics and 11 times better machine learning. And with a 20-hour battery life, this is the longest-lasting Mac by far.
The new iteration of the desktop Mac mini, meanwhile, has a CPU that is up to three times quicker, graphics that are six times faster and up to 15 times faster machine learning.
The devices start at Dh4,199, Dh5,399 and Dh2,999, respectively, and will be available from November 17.
Apple will, however, continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs in the comping years, and still has new Intel-based Macs in development phases.
The company also announced that Big Sur, the latest iteration of macOS, will offer a range of technologies to make the transition to Apple Silicon "smooth and seamless". Developers can also make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on Macs without any modifications.
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