What went into Apple’s new M1 chip?

A closer look at the M1 Apple Silicon chip   | Photo Credit: Apple Inc

At the November 10 ‘One More Thing’ Special Event, streamed virtually from Apple Park, California, Tim Cook and his team at Apple unveiled the first Apple Silicon SoC (system on a chip): M1. Apple Silicon, which has taken close to a decade to perfect, was first announced at the virtual Worldwide Developer Conference 2020 (WWDC20) but now, let’s get into the M1’s intricacies.

Macs and PCs have traditionally used multiple chips for the CPU, input-output, security, and more. Now with M1, these technologies are combined into a single SoC, delivering a whole new level of integration for greater performance and power efficiency. M1 also features a unified memory architecture that brings together high-bandwidth, low-latency memory into a single pool within a custom package. This allows all of the technologies in the SoC to access the same data without copying it between multiple pools of memory, further improving performance and efficiency.

What’s inside?

M1, says Apple, is the first personal computer chip built using cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology and is packed with 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put into a chip.

What about macOS Big Sur?
  • Apple states macOS Big Sur is engineered 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. With M1, things users do every day feel noticeably faster and smoother. Browsing with Safari — which is already the world’s fastest browser — is now up to 1.5 times speedier at running JavaScript and nearly twice as responsive.
  • All of Apple’s Mac software is now Universal and runs natively on M1 systems. Existing Mac apps that have not been updated to Universal will run seamlessly with Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology. Additionally, the foundations of Big Sur are optimised to unlock the power of M1, including developer technologies from Metal for graphics to Core ML for Machine Learning.
  • macOS Big Sur will be available publicly from November 12, 2020.

The tech company claims it features the world’s fastest CPU core in low-power silicon, the world’s best CPU performance per watt, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and breakthrough machine learning performance with the Apple Neural Engine. Therefore, M1 delivers up to 3.5 times faster CPU performance, up to 6 times faster GPU performance, and up to 15 times faster machine learning, all while enabling battery life up to two times longer than previous-generation Macs. With its profound increase in performance and efficiency, M1 delivers the biggest leap ever for the Mac.

M1 features an 8-core CPU consisting of four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Each of the high-performance cores provides industry-leading performance for single-threaded tasks, while running as efficiently as possible. Apple states these are the world’s fastest CPU cores in low-power silicon, allowing photographers to edit high-resolution photos with lightning speed and developers to build apps nearly 3 times faster than before. And all four can be used together for a huge boost in multithreaded performance.

The four high-efficiency cores deliver outstanding performance at a tenth of the power. By themselves, these four cores deliver similar performance as the current-generation, dual-core MacBook Air at much lower power. They are the most efficient way to run lightweight, everyday tasks like checking email or browsing the web, and preserve battery life like never before. And all eight cores can work together to provide incredible compute power for the most demanding tasks and deliver the world’s best CPU performance per watt.

For the user

With the new Macs announced at ‘One More Thing’ geared towards content creators (photographers, filmmakers, musicians), M1 was also developed with multimedia handling in mind. Featuring Apple’s most advanced GPU, M1 benefits from years of analysis of Mac applications, including everyday apps and challenging pro workloads. Featuring up to eight powerful cores capable of running nearly 25,000 threads simultaneously, the GPU can handle extremely demanding tasks with ease, from smooth playback of multiple 4K video streams to rendering complex 3D scenes. With 2.6 teraflops of throughput, M1 has the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer.

A closer look at the M1 Apple Silicon chip

A closer look at the M1 Apple Silicon chip   | Photo Credit: Apple Inc

Apple’s recent new chips — including A13 Bionic and A14 Bionic, U1, and more — have been engineered with Machine Learning (ML) in mind. The M1 chip brings the Apple Neural Engine to the Mac, greatly accelerating ML tasks. Featuring Apple’s most advanced 16-core architecture capable of 11 trillion operations per second, the Neural Engine in M1 enables up to 15 times faster machine learning performance. In fact, the entire M1 chip is designed to excel at machine learning, with ML accelerators in the CPU and a powerful GPU, so tasks including video analysis, voice recognition, and image processing will have a level of performance never seen before on the Mac.

Equipped with the new M1 chipset, MacBook Pro 13-inch (starting at ₹1,22,900), Mac mini (starting at ₹64,900), and MacBook Air (starting at ₹92,900) will be available from November 17, 2020. For more details on pre-orders, visit

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 3:23:34 AM |

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