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Apple Launches its Own MicroProcessor M1


Apple today announced M1, the first chip designed specifically for Mac. M1 is optimized for Mac systems in which small size and power efficiency are critically important. As a system on a chip (SoC), M1 combines numerous powerful technologies on a single chip and features a unified memory architecture for dramatically improved performance and efficiency.


New Technology

Apple M1 is the first personal computer chip built using cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology and is packed with an outstanding 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put into a chip. It features the world's fastest cpu core in low-power silicon, Apple M1 features 8-core CPU consisting of 4-high performance and low efficiency cores and the other 4 cores are the opposite, the most efficient cores are used to run lightweight, everyday tasks like checking email or browsing the web, and preserve battery life.


Apple Neural Engine

The M1 chip brings the Apple Neural Engine to the Mac, greatly accelerating machine learning (ML) task. Featuring Apple's 16-core architecture capable of 11 trillion operations per second, the neural engine in M1 enables up to 15x faster machine learning performance, In fact, the entire M1 chip is is designed to excel at machine learning, with ML accelerators in CPU which enables various tasks like video analysis, voice recognition, and image processing.


Architecture

The M1 has four high-performance 'Firestorm' and four energy-efficient 'Icestorm' cores, providing a configuration similar to ARM DynamIQ and Intel's hybrid Lakefield and Alder Lake processors. This combination allows power-use optimizations not possible with previous Apple–Intel architecture devices. Apple claims the energy-efficient cores use one tenth the power of the high-performance ones. The high-performance cores have 192 KB of L1 instruction cache and 128 KB of L1 data cache and share a 12 MB L2 cache; the energy-efficient cores have a 128 KB L1 instruction cache, 64 KB L1 data cache, and a shared 4 MB L2 cache. The Icestorm "E cluster" has a frequency of 0.6–2.064 GHz and a maximum power consumption of 1.3 W. The Firestorm "P cluster" has a frequency of 0.6–3.204 GHz and a maximum power consumption of 13.8 W.



Once more

Apple is still selling Intel 13-inch MacBook Pro and ‌Mac mini‌ models, and performance-wise, the M1 versions of these Macs offer much faster CPU speeds. It's not a good idea to buy a non-M1 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro or ‌Mac mini‌ at this time because of the inferior performance unless compatibility with x86 apps and the option to run Windows is a concern.

Other Macs in Apple's lineup will be transitioning to ‌Apple Silicon‌ chips in the future, which is something to keep in mind when considering a purchase. At this time, Apple's higher-end notebooks and desktops still offer superior GPU performance, but that could change in the future when new versions of ‌Apple Silicon‌ chips debut.

Intel Macs had a built-in T2 chip that handled security and other features on the Macs, but with the M1 chips, that functionality is built right in and a secondary chip isn't required.

The M1 has a built-in Secure Enclave that manages Touch ID and a storage controller with AES encryption hardware for SSD performance that's faster and more secure.

Because the M1 chip is using different architecture, Apple has built tools to allow developers to create Universal app binaries that run flawlessly on both ‌Apple Silicon‌ and Intel chips, plus it has developed the Rosetta 2 translation layer that allows x86 apps to run on the M1 chip.


Rosetta 2 is a reimagining of Rosetta, the feature that allowed PowerPC apps to run on Intel-based Macs back in 2006 when Apple swapped to Intel from PowerPC.

With Rosetta 2, apps designed for Intel machines will continue to run on M1 Macs with some limited performance compromises. For the most part, apps will run similarly on both Intel and M1 Macs due to the performance improvements introduced in the M1.

Everything should function as normal when transitioning to M1 Macs, and over the course of a few years, most popular Mac apps will likely be built to run on the M1 Macs natively. Right now, there is one major compromise when choosing an M1 Mac, and that's Windows support.

There is no Boot Camp for M1 Macs and M1 Macs are not officially able to run Windows, although some users are figuring out ways to make it work. Official support could come in the future, but it largely depends on Microsoft licensing its Arm-based version of Windows to consumers, and so far, that hasn't happened.

M1 Macs can run ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ apps as well as Mac apps, so long as app developers make them available on the Mac. There used to be a way to sideload any iOS app on an M1 Mac, but that functionality was removed in January 2021.


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Hisham Elreedy is Digital Electronics Engineer, Graphics Designer, Blogger, Youtuber. Inspired to teach all he knows from his experience in studying undergraduate engineering by creating useful posts

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