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Apple's M1 chip is the fastest chip that Apple has ever released in a Mac based on single-core CPU benchmark scores, and it beats out many high-end Intel Macs when it comes to multi-core performance. Developer Erik Engheim recently shared a deep dive into the M1 chip, exploring the reasons why Apple's new processor is so much faster than the Intel chips that it replaces.

m1-chip-macbook-air-pro.jpg

First and foremost, the M1 isn't a simple CPU. As Apple has explained, it's a System-on-a-Chip, which is a series of chips that are all housed together in one silicon package. The M1 houses an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU (7-core in some MacBook Air models), unified memory, SSD controller, image signal processor, Secure Enclave, and tons more.

Intel and AMD also ship multiple microprocessors in a single package, but as Engheim describes, Apple has a leg up because rather than focusing on general purpose CPU cores like its competitors, Apple is focusing on specialized chips that handle specialized tasks.

In addition to the CPU (with high-performance and high-efficiency cores) and GPU, the M1 has a Neural Engine for machine learning tasks like voice recognition and camera processing, a built-in video decoder/encoder for power-efficient conversion of video files, the Secure Enclave to handle encryption, the Digital Signal Processor for handling mathematically intensive functions like decompressing music files, and the Image Processing Unit that speeds up tasks done by image processing apps.

Notably, there's also a new unified memory architecture that lets the CPU, GPU, and other cores exchange information between one another, and with unified memory, the CPU and GPU can access memory simultaneously rather than copying data between one area and another. Accessing the same pool of memory without the need for copying speeds up information exchange for faster overall performance.

All of these chips with specific purposes speed up specific tasks, leading to the improvements that people are seeing.
This is part of the reason why a lot of people working on images and video editing with the M1 Macs are seeing such speed improvements. A lot of the tasks they do, can run directly on specialized hardware. That is what allows a cheap M1 Mac Mini to encode a large video file, without breaking sweat while an expensive iMac has all its fans going full blast and still cannot keep up.
Specialized chips have been in use for years, but Apple is taking a "more radical shift towards this direction," as Engheim describes. Other Arm chip makers like AMD are taking a similar approach, but Intel and AMD rely on selling general purpose CPUs and for licensing reasons, PC manufacturers like Dell and HP are likely not able to design a full SoC in house like Apple is able to do.

Apple is able integrate hardware and software in a way that's just not possible for most other companies to replicate, which is always something that's given the iPhone and iPad an edge over other smartphones and tablets.
Sure Intel and AMD may simply begin to sell whole finished SoCs. But what are these to contain? PC makers may have different ideas of what they should contain. You potentially get a conflict between Intel, AMD, Microsoft and PC makers about what sort of specialized chips should be included because these will need software support.
Along with the benefits of an in-house designed System-on-a-Chip, Apple is also using Firestorm CPU cores in the M1 that are "genuinely fast" and able to execute more instructions in parallel through Out-of-Order execution, RISC architecture, and some specific optimizations Apple has implemented, which Engheim has an in-depth explanation of.

Engheim believes that Intel and AMD are in a tough spot because of the limitations of the CISC instruction set and their business models that don't make it easy to create end-to-end chip solutions for PC manufacturers.

Engheim's full article is well worth reading for those who are interested in how the M1 works and the technology that Apple has adopted to take a giant leap forward in computing performance.

Article Link: Developer Delves Into Reasons Why Apple's M1 Chip is So Fast
 

lkrupp

macrumors 65816
Jul 24, 2004
1,197
1,987
it’s impressive that it’s not even a real comparison at this point. The M1 is insane. Anyone arguing that Intel is better is in denial.
Not only will they deny it, they will claim it’s fraud. Intel fanboys are not going to just go away quitely. Remember, Amiga fanboys are still in denial that their “superior” platform died a horrible death at the hands of Apple.

The big test will come when the M1’s successor goes into the iMac, the iMac Pro, and finally the Mac Pro.
 

ozziegn

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2007
1,147
571
Central FL Area
All intel Macs are now obsolete yesterday's junk. Apple has really nice business going on! That said, I love my MacBook Air Silicon.

This is the exact reason why I'm sooooo glad I decided to sell my 2015 15" MBP two days before the M1 MacBook Airs were in the Apple stores. I knew I better sell my Intel based MBP really quick before people began to realize how fast these M1 laptops really are. It must suck for anyone who's tying to sell their Intel based MacBooks now because I can't imagine why anyone would be willing to pay any high end price for a used MacBook when they can almost spend the same amount if not a little more for an M1.

I have been using my M1 MBA for almost two weeks and it spanks my 2015 15" all over the place. I have my MBA hooked up to a 28" 4K monitor running at 60Hz and it's an awesome setup.
 

BuffyzDead

macrumors regular
Dec 30, 2008
127
112
Intel/AMD supporters in denial, may cherry pick data points from one CPU or another, showing how it outdoes the M1 here or there, ......BUT, and I 'll say it three times below, for emphasis.

NOTHING ON THE PLANET, CPU-wise or SoC-wise, can come anywhere close to the M1, as it pertains to:

Power-to-Watt ratio !!! .....Power-to-Watt ratio !!! and .....Power-to-Watt ratio !!!
 
Last edited:

jz0309

Contributor
Sep 25, 2018
3,092
9,822
Temecula, CA
What Apple has done with the M1 is quite impressive, but, in context, they could only do that because they own every single piece of the puzzle, they deliver a total solution. This will come at the price of configurability and "only" able to run Apple OS, all of which is fine, for Apple.
And the article gives enough reason why Intel/AMD do what they are, a x86 processor runs 99% of all OSs on a generic platform ... in the Windows world, no-one has an ecosystem like Apple has.

I like what Apple has done and where they seem to be going ...
 

cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
22,943
27,851
California
RISC has been "the future" since at least 1985 when ARM started, and a bit before that with MIPS.
It looks like it is finally reality now in more than quite narrow markets.
Problem with Risc has never been technology. Lots of RISC processors in the past have blown away their CISC competitors.

The problem has always been “does it seamlessly run Windows and existing Windows apps?”

BYOD, the mobile Arm hegemony, and Apple’s expertise at supporting multi-architecture code has finally broken the glass.
 

Taz Mangus

macrumors 603
Mar 10, 2011
5,438
1,605
Not only will they deny it, they will claim it’s fraud. Intel fanboys are not going to just go away quitely. Remember, Amiga fanboys are still in denial that their “superior” platform died a horrible death at the hands of Apple.

The big test will come when the M1’s successor goes into the iMac, the iMac Pro, and finally the Mac Pro.
Apple may just forgo the iMac Pro all together. A single super performing iMac with 2 or more choices of unified memory.
 

JamieLannister

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2016
404
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It won't matter because PC will still remain dominant within 5 years especially with the <5nm Ryzen processors forthcoming. It all comes down to price point. Sure you may have a really ASIC like apple processor but reality is if the prices are not comparable then it won't matter. BUT apple will take the niche market share and make the most profit from that just like they are doing with smartphones.

You can now officially state that for all things multimedia, apple M1 and up will be the one to use. But again, price is the limiting factor here. PC's are just too awesome to give up; if you don't understand this then you are better off with an apple system. PC folk don't like everything closed and apple is the epitome of a closed system.

I can't even buy a color enclosure of my choosing and that's the most trivial selection a customer can have. I have plenty of apple products and I like them for what they are but I also have plenty of powerful PC's for gaming and encoding, but now I will use apple processor for encoding work instead.

For gaming apple's platform is a joke. In fact a PS5/Xsex will be an outstanding gaming machine at a fraction of any apple computer and/or PC.
 

anshuvorty

macrumors 68000
Sep 1, 2010
1,846
1,768
California, USA
Apple may just forgo the iMac Pro all together. A single super performing iMac with 2 or more choices of unified RAM.
I always thought the iMac Pro SKU was a stop-gap created by Apple to appease workstation-class computing users when the redesigned Mac Pro was still in the works. In other words, I always thought and still think that the iMac Pro, now that the Mac Pro has been released, will be discontinued, just like the fanless M1 MacBook Air superseded the fanless 12-inch MacBook.
 

clive27

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2014
83
194
Los Angeles, CA
This is the exact reason why I'm sooooo glad I decided to sell my 2015 15" MBP two days before the M1 MacBook Airs were in the Apple stores. I knew I better sell my Intel based MBP really quick before people began to realize how fast these M1 laptops really are. It must suck for anyone who's tying to sell their Intel based MacBooks now because I can't imagine why anyone would be willing to pay any high end price for a used MacBook when they can almost spend the same amount if not a little more for an M1.

I have been using my M1 MBA for almost two weeks and it spanks my 2015 15" all over the place. I have my MBA hooked up to a 28" 4K monitor running at 60Hz and it's an awesome setup.
I don't know how much you got for your 2015 MBP, but Apple's trade-in offer for my 2015 15" MBP is still $460 (it was $460 last year). I have my 2019 16" MBP that Apple offers $1400 as a trade-in also.
So... it looks like the values of old MBP haven't dropped much yet.
That said, I'm trading in my 2015 MBP and get the MBA. If the performance indeed matches my 16" MBP, I'll get rid of that as well.
 
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KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
16,149
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I always thought the iMac Pro SKU was a stop-gap created by Apple to appease workstation-class computing users when the redesigned Mac Pro was still in the works. In other words, I always thought and still think that the iMac Pro, now that the Mac Pro has been released, will be discontinued, just like the fanless M1 MacBook Air superseded the fanless 12-inch MacBook.

The M1 would be the perfect chip for a revived 12” MacBook, though. I agree that the iMac Pro was likely just a stopgap, particularly since the “regular” iMac is now available with the anti-glare screen but the iMac Pro is not.
 
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Duncan-UK

macrumors 6502
Sep 17, 2006
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Not only will they deny it, they will claim it’s fraud. Intel fanboys are not going to just go away quitely. Remember, Amiga fanboys are still in denial that their “superior” platform died a horrible death at the hands of Apple.

The big test will come when the M1’s successor goes into the iMac, the iMac Pro, and finally the Mac Pro.
How did Apple kill the Amiga? Apple was completely irrelevant to the Amiga. The Amiga was killed off by the development of cheap 486 PCs and then Pentiums that offered raw power that the Amiga could only dream of.
 

JamieLannister

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2016
404
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I don't know how much you got for your 2015 MBP, but Apple's trade-in offer for my 2015 15" MBP is still $460 (it was $460 last year). I have my 2019 16" MBP that Apple offers $1400 as a trade-in also.
So... it looks like the values of old MBP haven't dropped much yet.
That said, I'm trading in my 2015 MBP and get the MBA. If the performance indeed matches my 16" MBP, I'll get rid of that as well.
What a joke: apple resale values are high my asx (speaking in tone of Phil Schiller) - my 2020 MBP 13 2.0GHz 16GB ram/512 Storage goes for $950 at apple trade in. 4 months old what a laughing joke the trade in value is for that.
 

Taz Mangus

macrumors 603
Mar 10, 2011
5,438
1,605
I always thought the iMac Pro SKU was a stop-gap created by Apple to appease workstation-class computing users when the redesigned Mac Pro was still in the works. In other words, I always thought and still think that the iMac Pro, now that the Mac Pro has been released, will be discontinued, just like the fanless M1 MacBook Air superseded the fanless 12-inch MacBook.
I am thinking the same thing. When Apple updated the iMac, they did not update the iMac Pro. Which reinforces the idea that the iMac Pro will be discontinued. A new iMac that is more powerful then the iMac Pro and less expensive. Not to mention will probably run cooler as well.
 

JamieLannister

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2016
404
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Anyone buying a computer should factor in a resale value of £0 or $0, its the only sane way to look at it.

Any cash you receive for a sale is a bonus.
Contrary to your belief, the apple brand has an advantage. I am not in the business of buying and selling; I buy a product to use and if I don't want it I can sell it privately. But to have some strange notion apple products are worth more is full of bologna.
 

JamieLannister

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2016
404
1,045
All intel Macs are now obsolete yesterday's junk. Apple has really nice business going on! That said, I love my MacBook Air Silicon.
This is exactly like how they did it with Conroe. I actually got a 17" mbp I think a month before the release of conroe and wow, the performance was so great I couldn't wait to sell my 17" mbp and back then it was very easy to sell privately!
 
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