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Apple Silicon

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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.

Microsoft thinks Arm Windows laptops will eclipse M3 MacBook Air performance this year

While Apple just launched the new M3 MacBook Air, Microsoft is apparently convinced that its upcoming family of Arm laptops will offer even better performance.

“Microsoft is confident that a round of new Arm-powered Windows laptops will beat Apple’s M3-powered MacBook Air both in CPU performance and AI-accelerated tasks,” according to a new report from The Verge.

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M3 MacBook Pro vs M2: Everything that’s different and buyer’s guide

M3 MacBook Pro vs M2 MacBook Pro

The latest MacBook Pro laptops are powered by the new M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max Apple Silicon. In addition to more powerful and efficient CPUs and GPUs, these MacBook Pro machines support up to 128GB of memory, have brighter screens, improved battery life, and a new Space Black finish. Follow along for an in-depth look at what’s different and new with the M3 MacBook Pro vs M2 MacBook Pro lineup plus buying advice.

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New report offers a rare glimpse inside Apple’s silicon lab and team [Video]

A new report and video from CNBC offers a rare in-depth look inside the team working on Apple Silicon. The report features interviews with Apple executives, a look inside Apple’s chip lab in Cupertino, and more.

“One of the most, if not the most, profound change at Apple, certainly in our products over the last 20 years, is how we now do so many of those technologies in-house,” said John Ternus, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, in the interview.

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Apple plans to package US-fabbed Apple silicon in US, TSMC plant not a ‘paperweight’

apple silicon transition | apple 5G modem iPhone

In 2021, Apple committed to investing $430 billion in the US economy over a five year period. Now the company has detailed plans to bring Apple silicon packaging to Arizona as part of that investment. The announcement seems to refute an earlier report that Apple silicon fabbed by TSMC in the US would still need to be packaged in Taiwan.

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iLeakage flaw could force iPhones and Macs to divulge passwords and more

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A vulnerability in A-series and M-series chips could force iPhones, Macs, and iPads to divulge passwords and other sensitive information to an attacker. Security researchers have dubbed the flaw – which affects Safari on the Mac, and any browser on iOS devices – iLeakage.

In a proof of concept attack, researchers were able to obtain access to the contents of a Gmail inbox, YouTube history, and passwords auto-filled by Safari …

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Apple signs new long-standing deal with Arm for making Apple Silicon chips

Apple Silicon chip arm

Apple is a long-standing partner of Arm, the Softbank-owned company that developed the ARM architecture that powers every Apple Silicon chip. Following an agreement to invest in Arm stock after the company announced its plans to go public on the US Nasdaq stock market, Apple and Arm have now signed a long-term agreement for sharing chip technologies.

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Apple to invest in Arm when it goes public later this year, will help guide the future of Apple Silicon architecture

Nikkei is reporting that chip design company Arm is set to go public on the US Nasdaq stock exchange later this year, with an IPO valued at more than $60 billion.

Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Intel, and other leading chipmakers will invest in Arm stock when it goes public. For Apple, this ownership stake will help secure a stable future for the chip architecture that forms the foundations of all of its Apple Silicon chips.

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The Apple Silicon Mac Pro is here, but it still can’t replace my custom PC

Ian's desk setup with custom rendering PC

The Apple Silicon Mac Pro is here, but it still won’t replace my custom-built PC for 3D rendering and graphics work at 9to5Mac.

Apple has finally revealed their long-awaited Apple Silicon Mac Pro, and I won’t be buying one. With early rumors of an “M2 Extreme,” with double the computing power of the M2 Ultra, I was very excited about the Mac Pro and hoped it could finally replace my custom-built PC I use for 3D graphics at 9to5Mac.

Unfortunately, Apple stuck with the same M2 Ultra SOC from the Mac Studio, and besides adding PCI-E expandability, the computers are nearly identical. 

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How Apple Silicon’s focus on efficiency can benefit even the highest-end Macs

apple silicon transition | apple 5G modem iPhone

As the Apple Silicon transition continues, a new report from today highlights the impressive gains Apple has seen not only in performance but also in efficiency. In an interview with the Independent, Apple product marketing team member Doug Brooks discussed what motivated the transition, the current state of the Mac lineup, and more.

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How to install Windows 11 on Apple Silicon Macs with free VMware Fusion Player [Video]

In this hands-on tutorial, I’ll show you how to run Windows 11 for ARM using VMware Fusion Player 13, an application that includes a free personal license option. The downside to VMware Fusion Player, is that it doesn’t include 3D support for Windows 11 on ARM, but that may not be an issue for you if you’re just need to run a one-off app or other basic software.

If you’re looking to run games, in general, Parallels Desktop 18 remains the better option due to its support of DirectX 11. The downside to using Parallels for running Windows 11 on ARM? It is a paid application that requires a subscription for the version that most people will want to use. You can read and watch our full Parallels Desktop 18 Windows 11 on ARM tutorial for more details.

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Are Apple Silicon Macs so good we’ll need fewer upgrades?

Apple Silicon Macs | MacBook Pro

The launch of Apple Silicon Macs back in 2020 was one of the longest-awaited developments in the history of Macs. The rumors date back to at least 2014, and with hindsight, the writing was already on the wall when Apple developed its own chip for the first-gen iPad and iPhone 4 back in 2010.

Apple’s hardware chief, Johny Srouji, said last year that the company itself had been working on the project for 14 years

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Apple doubles investment in its European Silicon Design Center

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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 of 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 5G modem iPhone

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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