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Apple M1 Processor – Apple Delivers A Haymaker

In June, Apple made an announcement, it would be transitioning to its own homegrown processors over those made from Intel. Last week we were introduced to the Apple M1 SOC(System On A Chip), and boy did they do their best to blow post-combusted suspended particulates up our rectal sphincters. 

Apple M1 Processor

I mean, a graph with no labels?? I smell particulates…

M1 Is No Lie

Apple waxed poetic and spewed technobabble about their processor all the while making nearly laughable claims about its performance. 1.5X this, 3 X that, 5nm process, 16 billion transistors, 8 core processor, 8 core GPU, 16-core neural engine, and a very powerful partridge in a pear tree. 

From a technical perspective, it really is an amazing piece of hardware, but the numbers still sounded absolutely wild and made up… it’s why I’ve delayed this blog until we get our hands on the machines. But, the machines are in reviewers’ hands, and the real world benchmarks have been released…

WOW.

Just WOW.

Apple was not lying. The performance of this processor is damn near unbelievable. The Stem is due for a new machine, the 2012, 27″ iMac is still working great, but I can’t install Bug Sur. The idea was to grab one of the new Intel iMacs that were just released, solid specs and it’s generally a great idea to not invest in 1st generation hardware. But, these performance reports had me rethinking that. In fact, these processors even outpace the Intel-i9 processors found in the 16″ MacBook Pro just released. 

M1 Processor Benchmarks

An Apple engineer released an incredible stat; there’s a common process run by software referring to an NSObject. Intel hardware can retain then release this item in around 30 nanoseconds, the M1, 6.5ns. Technical, but that number should give an idea of its incredible performance. 

This Is Just The Start

The whole purpose of this event was to introduce new Macs equipt with the M1 processor, and the machines they chose to show us means a lot for the future. We got ourselves a new MacBook Air, Mac Mini and 13′ MacBook Pro. These are the lower end of Apple’s offering. But now, the MacBook Air is capable of editing 2 streams of 4k video, which is mind-boggling. The Intel MacBook Air are great machines, but never ever would I recommend editing video on them.. now we can. 

Apple choosing to show off entry-level hardware first was not unexpected, but what they withheld, the iMac, higher-end MacBook Pros, Mac Pro itself, is telling. If we are getting these incredible performance gains in the entry-level machines, what do they have in store for the next generation iMac? These beginner-level processors have humbled an Intel i9! Why would I spend $6,000 on an intel iMac when it’s been lapped by a $1,300 MacBook Air??

It simply wouldn’t be a good decision, period. So, I’m gonna sit on my i7 iMac for a little while longer to see what the D1 Processors can do.. and that name is just a wild guess. I’m saying the M stands for mobile, I’m betting the processor they have ready for the iMacs is an entirely different beast. 

Every pundit out there has been gobsmacked with these machines and their performance, AND efficiency. The battery performance on the two MacBook models is unbelievable. The MacBook Air is now getting up to 18 HOURS of battery life, which is more than you should be working, and 8 more hours than the Intel version. 

This processor is meant for machines that are mobile and need to sip power, imagine what they could unleash in a machine without those constraints! This is just the start…

M1 Machines – The Line-Up

M1 Macs

As mentioned, Apple introduced 3 machines that use the M1 Processor, each not much different besides performance then it’s intel counterpart. 

13-Inch MacBook Air M1

Not a lot of physical changes at all, though we do get a dedicated Spotlight & Do-Not-Disturb keys, the changes are largely in its abilities. The Wi-Fi chip has been upgraded to version 6, and the camera get’s software enhancements because of the M1 processor. Because of the M1, it now wakes instantly, don’t know if that means from a cold start though. There is no need for a fan, so it runs completely silently. It’s upgradable to 16GB of RAM, which is part of the M1 System On A Chip package, and a 2TB SSD is an option as well. The MacBook Air has upgraded external monitor support, now able to run a full 6K at 60Hz like the Pro Display XDR. You can also tag on TWO 4K displays. Possibly because of thermal limitations, the GPU is limited to 7 cores., but still BEYOND anything previously considered! Prices start at $1,300 CAD.

13-Inch MacBook Pro M1

Not a whole lot of differences with the Pro actually, but in fact, it has more limitations in a way. For instance, it can only take 1 X 4K display, but can go up to the 6K XDR if you want. Compared to the Intel version, it only has two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It does have a fan and makes use of all 8 cores in the GPU. 

This could mean that it has the ability to sustain it’s highest processing power for longer periods, I guess that makes it “Pro”. I might suggest waiting to see what Apple has in store for desktops and the larger Pro machines. 

Mac Mini M1

Apple surprised us with an update to the Mac Mini as well. Getting similar improvements as the MacBook Air, it can run two 4K displays, one via Thunderbolt 3, the other via HDMI. It can run a single 6k display if you like as well. The big thing here though is a price drop of $100! You can now get one of these performance beasts for just $900 CAD

Conclusion

What seemed to be ballsy boasts at first have turned out to be a true haymaker punch; these machines are truly incredible and have delivered on Apple’s claims. We cannot wait to see what Apple will bring to bear for the next level of machines. If you have any questions about the new M1 Macs, contact us!

Oh, and the event ended in THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY.

 

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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