Apple currently produces three ARM-based Apple Silicon chips for use in its iPads and Mac desktops and laptops: Apple M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max. Here’s a look at the differences between each.
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The M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max belong to the Apple Silicon family of chips. These chips use a low-power ARM-based architecture (as opposed to the x86-64 architecture used in non-Apple Silicon Macs) placed in a system on a chip (SoC) package with specialized silicon for other tasks such as graphics and machine. learning. This makes M1 chips extremely fast considering the amount of power they use.
Apple’s iPhone, iPad, Watch and Apple TV products have been using ARM-based chips designed by Apple for years. So, with Apple Silicon, Apple is leveraging more than a decade of experience in designing native hardware and software around the ARM architecture, and the company can now bring that experience to Macs. But it’s not exclusive to Macs, as some iPads also use M1 chips, demonstrating that Apple now shares its ARM-based expertise across most of its products.
The ARM (Acorn Risc Machine) architecture originated in 1985 with the ARM1 chip, which included only 25,000 transistors using a 3 micrometer (3000 nanometer) process. Today, the M1 Max packs 57,000,000,000,000 transistors on a similar-sized piece of silicon using a 5-nanometer process. That’s progress!
The Apple M1: Apple’s first silicon chip
The Apple M1 system-on-a-chip (Soc) was Apple’s first entry in the Apple Silicon chip series, introduced in November 2020. It includes CPU and GPU cores along with a unified memory architecture for faster performance. The same SoC includes special neural engine cores for machine learning acceleration, media encoder and decoder engines, a Thunderbolt 4 controller and a secure enclave .
As of October 2021, Apple currently uses the M1 chip in MacBook Air, Mac Mini, MacBook Pro (13-inch), iMac (24-inch), iPad Pro (11-inch) and iPad Pro (12.9-inch) . .
If not for the M1 Max, the mid-range M1 Pro would probably be hailed as the king of laptop chips. It significantly improves on the M1 by adding support for more CPU cores, more GPU cores, up to 32 GB of unified memory, and faster memory bandwidth. It also supports two external displays and includes a ProRes encoder and decoder , which is big for video production professionals. Basically, it’s faster than the M1 (and more capable), but slower than the M1 Max.
As of November 2021, Apple is currently using the M1 Pro chip in the 14-inch and 16-inch models of the MacBook Pro. It will likely also come to desktop Macs (and perhaps even an iPad) in the future.
Currently, M1 Max is the most powerful SoC Apple has ever built. It doubles the memory bandwidth and maximum unified memory of the M1 Pro and enables up to 32 GPU cores with advanced graphics quality for a notebook chip that Apple says is similar to high-end discrete notebook GPUs, all with less power. It supports four external displays, includes an integrated ProRes encoder and decoder, and includes integrated neural engine cores, a Thunderbolt 4 controller, and a secure enclave.
Like the M1 Pro, Apple currently uses the M1 Max Chip in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models . Expect this chip to reach Mac desktops in the future.
Which one should you choose?
Now that you’ve seen the three Apple M1 chips, if you’re shopping for a new Mac, which one should you choose? Ultimately, it all comes down to how much you can spend. In general, we don’t see any downside to getting a Mac with as much power as possible as long as your budget allows it. Apple products usually can be used for 5+ years so a powerful CPU will make sure you are ready for the future.