Apple Unveils Mac Computers Powered By M1 Chip

Apple has severed its ties to Intel with the ‘One More Thing’ launch last night of its first ARM-based Macs that run on in-house Apple silicon chips, instead of the Intel processors it has used since 2005.

Apple unveiled a new MacBook Air, as well as a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a Mac mini powered by Apple’s bespoke M1 central processor unit (CPU).

This new inhouse CPU had been expected, after Apple had used its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, to officially confirm its plans to move its Mac computers to ARM-based chips.

ARM chips

All in all, Apple offered a new MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini powered by the M1 processor.

The firm said the M1 is “by far the most powerful chip Apple has ever made,” and it will “transform” the Mac experience.

Apple claims that the M1 is delivering “industry-leading performance per watt.” This, coupled with macOS Big Sur, means the “M1 delivers up to 3.5x faster CPU, up to 6x faster GPU, up to 15x faster machine learning (ML) capabilities, and battery life up to 2x longer than before.”

“The introduction of three new Macs featuring Apple’s breakthrough M1 chip represents a bold change that was years in the making, and marks a truly historic day for the Mac and for Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“M1 is by far the most powerful chip we’ve ever created, and combined with Big Sur, delivers mind-blowing performance, extraordinary battery life, and access to more software and apps than ever before. We can’t wait for our customers to experience this new generation of Mac, and we have no doubt it will help them continue to change the world.”

MacBook Air

Drilling down into the announcements, the MacBook Air retains its position as Apple’s most popular Mac and the “world’s best-selling 13-inch notebook.”

The new MacBook Air with the M1 chip gives the user 8-core CPU performs up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation.

“With up to an 8-core GPU, graphics are up to 5x faster, the biggest leap ever for MacBook Air, so immersive, graphics-intensive games run at significantly higher frame rates,” said Apple. “ML workloads are up to 9x faster, so apps that use ML-based features like face recognition or object detection can do so in a fraction of the time. The M1 chip’s storage controller and latest flash technology deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance, so previewing massive images or importing large files is faster than ever.”

Other new features in MacBook Air include Apple’s latest image signal processor (ISP) in the M1 chip, which improves camera image quality with better noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto white balance and ML-enhanced face detection so users look their best during video calls.

13-inch MacBook Pro

The next new machine feauring the M1 is the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

“The 8-core CPU, when paired with the MacBook Pro’s active cooling system, is up to 2.8x faster than the previous generation, delivering game-changing performance when compiling code, transcoding video, editing high-resolution photos, and more,” said Apple.

“The 8-core GPU is up to 5x faster, allowing users to enjoy super smooth graphics performance whether they are designing a graphics-intensive game or a new product,” it added.

Other new features in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro include studio-quality mics for super clear recordings and calls, and Apple’s latest camera ISP in the M1 chip enables sharper images and more detail in shadows and highlights on video calls.

The new MacBook Pro also delivers improved security with the Secure Enclave in M1 and Touch ID. And it features two Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support to connect to more peripherals than ever, including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution.

Mac mini

The final arrival with the M1 is the new Mac mini, which Apple claims “packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.”

Apple claims that thanks to the Xcode coding environment on Mac mini, it offers 3x faster performance.

Mac mini also features a thermal design to sustain its breakthrough performance while staying cool and quiet, support for up to two displays including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution, and Wi-Fi 6 for faster wireless performance and the Secure Enclave in M1 for improved security.

macOS Big Sur

And lets not forget the none hardware news, with the arrival of Big Sur desktop operating system.

“Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign that is entirely new yet instantly familiar, and powerful updates to apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps,” said Apple. “Big Sur is engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the capability and power of M1, delivering a massive boost in performance, astonishing battery life, and even stronger security protections.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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