Apple has unveiled three new Macs; the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13 and Mac mini, powered by their very own Apple’s M1 chip instead of Intel processors. This marks the end of a 15-year run where Intel processors powered Apple’s laptops and desktops, and a big shift for the semiconductor industry.
The new Apple M1 chip boasts superior performance with impressive power efficiency thanks to its 5-nanometer transistors. Apple claims that the new M1 chip comes with up to 3.5 times faster CPU, 6 times faster GPU, up to 20 hours of battery life.
“Five-nanometer is the leading edge of process technology right now and there are only a few products out at this point,” Gartner research director Jon Erensen said. Currently, Intel ships chips only with 10-nanometer transistors.
In general, the more transistors a chipmaker can fit into the same space, the more efficient the chip is.
According to a Gartner estimate, Apple is the fourth-largest PC maker measured by shipments, so its plan to use its own chips in its entire lineup of laptops and desktops, first announced in June, is a blow for Intel.
Intel said in a statement that they believe Intel-powered PCs—like those based on 11th Gen Intel Core mobile processors—provide global customers the best experience in the areas they value most, as well as the most open platform for developers.”
During Apple’s launch event, the company emphasised how it mainly evaluates chips on performance per watt, not raw performance.
On the entry-level MacBook Air, Apple says that it can manage 15 hours of web browsing on one charge, nearly 30% more than the advertised 10 to 11 hour battery life of the previous Intel-based model. The new Macs also work more like phones or tablets, with features like the ability to wake up from sleep instantly. The new M1 Macs can even run iPhone apps, if the developer takes a few steps to make them available on Apple’s App Store.
However, analysts warn that Apple’s performance claims, like that it is faster than comparable PCs, will need to be tested once the computers hit shelves.