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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Apple M1 chip for the Mac announced: All your top questions, answered

What is the M1 chip for Mac? We tried to answer all your burning questions on Apple's new in-house designed chip for the next-generation Macs.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 11, 2020 3:38:18 pm
Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 silicon, ARM Mac, What is the Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 computers, Apple silicon familyApple's M1 chip for Macs is a single system on a chip (SoC) that handles both computation tasks as well as graphics output.

Apple announced three new Mac models on Tuesday but there is one thing common among all of them: the M1 chip. The move, a big blow for Intel, marks the beginning of a new era for the PC market. For the first time, Apple is using an ARM-powered processor to power its most popular Macs: a MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini. That means that your next Mac computer will have Apple’s custom M1 chip and not an Intel Core processor inside. But what is the M1 chip and what made Apple ditch Intel for its own silicon in the future Macs?

Here are answers to some questions you may have about the M1 chip, and it means for the future Macs.

What is the Apple M1 chip?

The Apple M1 is an 8-core SoC (System-on-Chip) chip based on 5-nanometer architecture and comprises of 16 billion transistors. Simply put, this SoC handles all the computing tasks as well as graphical output. There are four performance cores and four efficiency cores in the CPU. Apple says it has the highest CPU performance per watt, and the four efficiency cores match the performance of a dual-core MacBook Air while consuming much less power. This means that a Mac powered by the M1 chip will have better power efficiency and longer battery life.

Is the M1 chip powerful enough to outrank processors used in previous Macs?

Apple says the M1 delivers “up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning” with up to double the battery life.  For example, Apple says apps like Garage Band can handle three times more instruments and effect plugins, while Final Cut Pro can render complex timelines up to six-times faster.

Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 silicon, ARM Mac, What is the Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 computers, Apple silicon family The M1 has four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance cores. (Image credit: Apple)

What are the advantages of the M1 chip over Intel’s Core processors?

Apple says that the M1-powered Macs are better devices, because its own silicon delivers better performance and longer battery life. For instance, the new MacBook Air can deliver battery life of 17 hours when web browsing and 18 hours when watching movies. Similarly, Apple’s new M1 chip enables up to 20 hours of battery life on the new MacBook Pro. The new Macs now act more like a smartphone and tablet, with the ability to wake up instantly. Plus, the new Macs can even run iPhone apps, if developers make them available on Apple’s App Store.

I heard the new MacBook Air is fanless? Is it true?

Yes, the new MacBook Air has no cooling fan. The original 12-inch MacBook also had a fanless design but it featured a weaker Intel processor. However, in the case of the new MacBook Air, Apple’s M1 chip makes the entry-level notebook as powerful as the new MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro and the Mac mini will both come with cooling fans.

Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 silicon, ARM Mac, What is the Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 computers, Apple silicon family Apple’s new Macs with the M1 processor. (Image credit: Apple)

What’s new about the M1-powered MacBook Pro?

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip can deliver 2.8 times the CPU performance, 5x faster graphics, up to 11x faster machine learning, and up to 20 hours of battery life. The new machine looks identical to the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro (Intel variant) but comes with the M1 chip.

Does Apple offer iMac with M1 chip?

Not yet, but you can buy the M1-powered Mac Mini. According to Apple, the new Mac Mini has up to 3x faster CPU, up to 6x faster graphics, up to 15x faster machine learning, and 60 per cent more energy efficiency. Apple hasn’t updated the design of the new Mac Mini.

How much is the MacBook Air/13-inch MacBook Pro?

Both new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are available for pre-order and will launch in India soon. Prices start at Rs 92,900 and Rs 122,900, respectively.

Is the new Mac Mini with M1 cheaper than the Intel variant?

Yes, the new Mac Mini with M1 starts at Rs 64,900 with 256GB storage. It is about $100 cheaper than the Intel-powered Mac Mini, which currently retails for around Rs 71,990.

Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 silicon, ARM Mac, What is the Apple M1 chip, Apple M1 computers, Apple silicon family The M1 chip uses a 5-nanometer production process, similar to the latest A14 chip in the iPhone 12. (Image credit: Apple)

Will all my apps run on M1 Mac?

There is no concrete answer to it. While macOS Big Sur will natively run on the M1 chip, there are chances many third-party apps won’t run at all. To support old and new apps, Apple is encouraging developers to use Rosetta 2, an emulation software, to enable M1 Macs to run Intel code. The good news is that with macOS Big Sur, all of its Mac software runs natively on both Intel and M1 machines.

Can I still buy Intel Macs from Apple?

Apple’s M1 chip is the future for the next-gen Mac, but Intel-based Macs aren’t phased out yet. In fact, Apple continues to offer the Mac Mini and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU options. If you look at Apple’s current line up, the iMac, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and iMac Pro can still be purchased from Apple’s online store. All of these machines have an Intel processor inside.

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