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Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, making up the first wave of Macs powered by Apple Silicon, and AnandTech has since published a deep dive into Apple's brand new M1 custom chip at the heart of the new machines.

m1-chip-macbook-air-pro.jpg

The article begins by picking through the admittedly scant details that Apple's event offered about the M1 chip's design, yet manages to extrapolate some interesting tidbits regarding the processor's packaging and architecture.

Beginning with the M1's unified memory architecture, AnandTech notes that the packaging style keeps the embedded memory off to the side of the compute die rather on top of it, ensuring the chips can be efficiently cooled, which suggests Apple is using a 128-bit DRAM bus similar to that found in previous A-X chips.

Apple says the M1 features four high-performance "Firestorm" CPU cores and four efficiency "Icestorm" cores. Examining an actual die shot shown in Apple's M1 unveiling, Anandtech explains that the chip appears to have a 12MB cache – up from the 8MB of L2 cache featured in the A14 – which makes sense given that it's now being used by four high-performance cores instead of two.

The article later goes on to compare the M1 performance to existing Intel and AMD processors and takes the A14 as a benchmark guide, while noting that with its additional cache, "we expect the Firestorm cores used in the M1 to be even faster," suggesting "Apple's claim of having the fastest CPU core in the world seems extremely plausible."

Running the A14 through a series of benchmarks against a Rizen 9 5950X and an Intel i7-1185G7, AnandTech calls the results "mind-boggling," noting that "the fact the A14 currently competes with the very best top-performance designs that the x86 vendors have on the market today is just an astonishing feat." Taking into account a graph of single-thread performance gains over the last five years, AnandTech suggests that Intel has increased its chips' performance by about 28%, while Apple has managed closer to 198% in the same period.

perf-trajectory_intel-apple-axx-anandtech.jpg
Apple's performance trajectory and unquestioned execution over these years is what has made Apple Silicon a reality today. Anybody looking at the absurdness of that graph will realize that there simply was no other choice but for Apple to ditch Intel and x86 in favor of their own in-house microarchitecture – staying par for the course would have meant stagnation and worse consumer products.
The performance analyses conclude by noting Apple's enormous power efficiency advantage, which is why the new M1 chip will be able to offer either vastly increased battery life, and/or vastly increased performance compared to the current Intel MacBook line-up. Apple has said it will take at least two years to transition its entire Mac lineup to Apple Silicon. Going on its current performance trajectory, Apple's forthcoming desktop-class chip designs are likely to look "extremely impressive," AnandTech concludes.

The five-page deep dive contains far more details than we've summarized above, and is well worth a read. You can check out the complete article here.

Article Link: AnandTech Calls Apple's Fastest CPU Core Claim for M1 'Extremely Plausible'
 
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Bug-Creator

macrumors 65816
May 30, 2011
1,110
3,962
Germany
*shrug*

It's faster than anything Intel (or AMD) they could have put in there with the same power restraints.

-> worth it

Wether that is still true in a few years remains to be seen, as it might end up similar to the PPC era were 5 fat years were followed with 5 years of stagnation (and Intel really getting their act together).
 

GadgetBen

macrumors 68000
Jul 8, 2015
1,786
3,577
London
How does the current intel iMac Pro compare?

I downloaded the latest Beta of Big Sur yesterday on it and it's crazy fast.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm promoting a conspiracy here but this is the first Big Sur beta that has performed beyond my expectations. Super fast loading times.
 

StoneJack

macrumors 65816
Dec 19, 2009
1,242
482
How does the current intel iMac Pro compare?

I downloaded the latest Beta of Big Sur yesterday on it and it's crazy fast.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm promoting a conspiracy here but this is the first Big Sur beta that has performed beyond my expectations. Super fast loading times.
Did you install on Intel mac, you mean? What was fast?
 

JoelTheSuperior

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2014
406
442
How does the current intel iMac Pro compare?

I downloaded the latest Beta of Big Sur yesterday on it and it's crazy fast.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm promoting a conspiracy here but this is the first Big Sur beta that has performed beyond my expectations. Super fast loading times.
In single threaded performance, the iMac Pro is quite a bit slower. The iMac Pro would definitely win in multithreaded performance though.

Real question is how these new chips compare to AMD's new Zen 3 CPUs...
 

Bug-Creator

macrumors 65816
May 30, 2011
1,110
3,962
Germany
How is Intel operating in the "same power constraints"?
You may want to reread my post...

"It's faster than anything Intel (or AMD) they could have put in there with the same power restraints."

Which would be some low-power i3/5 variant.

Independent test may find the M1 2/3/5 or even 10times faster, but even if it was just x1.5 it would still be o.k. in my book.
 

Patchwork

macrumors regular
Jan 6, 2008
203
265
Near Preston, UK
Isn't there a rule about first gen apple products though ? Although surely the first iPod disproved this ?
I still think avoiding first gen is good advice unless you really need a computer or are a developer as would expect M2 (or whatever the next chip is called) to have better at graphics, allow more than 16GB RAM and have more thunderbolt/USB4 ports. It's also possible we'll see redesigned MacBook Pro as there's been rumours of a 14 inch for some time. They might actually get round to putting decent cameras in too!
 

magicMac

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2010
844
272
UK
it's great to see this progress from apple, but it's crazy to think it all rests on just a few acquisitions and decision making shortly after the first iPhone, with the A4 demonstrating apples first chip in a very long time.

Imagine if apple didn't make those decisions back 2008-2010, where would apple be today? They made the right choice in hindsight (not something all companies can lay claim to) - steve jobs must have said at the time... we are a computer company , why are we putting Samsung chips in the iPhone 3G?? and then got a team to work, along with some clever acquisitions. right time, right place as well helped.

Considering Windows10 has an ARM flavour and NVIDIA now own ARM, i half expect this to be a future direction for PC chips going forward and we won't just see Apple doing well in this space (quite a few are saying this).

AMD's leapfrog over intel right now might be short lived in terms of relevance if ARM chips can translate x86 at better performance per watt. AMD should join in the fun, an ARM chip that has a native x86 co-processor would be interesting...
 
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