Apple M1 Chip: Specs, Performance, Everything We Know

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Apple‘s new in-house M1 chip is authoritatively available. The main audits and benchmarks are beginning to spring up, so we’re gathering all that we think about it into one helpful spot, which we’ll refresh as we find out additional.

Apple M1 Cheat Sheet: Key details at a glance 

Release Date:Ships Week of 11/16
Found in:MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini
CPU Cores:8-core CPU
Nm Process:5nm
Graphics:Integrated 8-core GPU with 2.6 teraflops of throughput
Memory:8GB or 16GB of LPDDR4X-4266 MHz SDRAM

 Apple M1 Release Date 

The first computers with the M1 chip from Apple are already on sale. To test it, you’ll have to choose from three new products that feature the chip: the new MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the Mac Mini. Each comes with two configurations using the M1. The MacBook Pro also offers two Intel configurations, and the Mac Mini has an Intel processor.

Apple began shipping its M1 purchases this week.

Apple M1 Price 

The M1 is a portable chip so you’ll have to integrate it into an Apple device.

Mac Mini starts at $ 699 256 GB of storage, making it the cheapest way to get a processor M1. The price range extends to $ 2,099, giving you the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 2TB of storage.

The price depends largely on the specifics of the purchase. But so far, the Mac M1s don’t appear to be much more expensive than their Intel-based counterparts. The M1 MacBook Air configuration that is very similar to the Intel MacBook Air we reviewed earlier this year is $ 1,249, for example, and it’s $ 50 cheaper than last year’s version. Starting price of $ 999 remains unchanged.

Apple M1 Specs 

This is the bread and butter from M1. What does the new Arm-based Apple chip have that the Intel x86 architecture does not have? Well, use the 5nm process, for example. In comparison, even Intel’s 7nm process is not expected to start rolling out its products until at least 2022. Apple’s CPU has 8 cores, which usually needs to be upgraded to Intel’s H-series product range to get mobile chips.

Four of the M1 cores are for high-power performance, while the other four are for low energy efficiency. This equates to a heat envelope of 10 watts overall, with low-power cores assumed to consume a tenth of the energy required for high-power cores. The chip also contains a total of 16 billion transistors.

The M1 is also a system on a chip (SOC) with integrated graphics and built-in memory. The included GPU also has 8 cores, for a total of 128 compute units and 2.6 teraflops of performance (there is an exception here: the entry-level MacBook Air uses a version of the M1 with a 7-core GPU). “Single Memory” replaces the need for separate RAM, which means the chip comes with 8GB or 16GB of SDRAM LPDDR4X-4266MHz, depending on your device.

The M1 also has a separate 16-core Neural Engine for machine learning tasks.

Apple M1 Teardown

If you’re interested in what the M-chip actually looks like, Twitter user @ technalye1 did a disassembly process on his account.

This is what M1 actually looks like inside the product, once you peel it off and remove the thermal paste. The Apple logo is a nice touch, even if most users have never seen it. For comparison, this is what the Apple chipset model looks like on their website.

(Image credit: Apple)

You will notice that it looks completely different, but that’s because this version of the slide is completely locked. @ Technayle1 also has chip images from the bottom, showing off its pin connectors, and it lines up more evenly with Apple’s promotional pictures.

Finally, @ technayle1 also contains images of what the M1 actually looks like when placed on motherboards.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple M1 Native Performance 

The main drawback of the M1 chip at the moment is that since it uses a different architecture and instructions than Intel or AMD, you won’t be able to run x86 applications without emulating it. Developers are already looking into the problem, Microsoft says it is working on a version of Microsoft Office that will run natively on M1 machines, and Adobe says it is working on an authentic M1 creative kit. But early adopters may have to wait a bit to get the best possible performance from their new chips.

When the M1 operates locally it seems to have a lot of power. Engadget notes that the MacBook Air M1 earned a Geekbench 5 score of 1,619 / 6292. This is much higher than its score for the 2020 MacBook Air i7, which was 1,130 / 3,053. Meanwhile, Tiger Lake Dell XPS 13 scored 9,310 at 1,496 / 5,254 in our Geekbench 5.0 benchmarks, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Extreme Gen 3 with Intel Core i7-10850H chipset scored 1,221 / 6116.

The single-core M1 score also beat the 2020 27-inch single-core iMac Core i9 score, which was just 1246. It loses the multi-core iMac score of 9046, but this officially gives the M1 test results Higher single-core than any Intel Macs. Even desktop computers.

Outlets like The Verge have also tested the M1, albeit under various conditions. Using a MacBook Pro and testing with Geekbench 5.3, Verge found that its review unit earned 1730/7510 points.

We’re excited to see how the M1 stacks up against a potential 8-core Tiger Lake chip, as well as newer AMD Ryzen 5000 processors, which are also looking to grab the Intel CPU crown. Right now, the M1 aims to be the fastest portable chip you can buy.

Apple M1 Emulated Performance 

Finally, we come to the M1’s biggest potential flaw: because the Apple M1 uses a completely new architecture (at least new for Mac), it cannot run applications originally designed for x86 chips. Instead, you should imitate them. Apple designed a tool to allow users to do this with ease, called Rosetta 2, but running applications through Rosetta 2 means they will perform successfully.

Official reviews report emulators more often than official numbers, but user Geekbench results show that when emulating the app, the M1 chip is still faster than its Intel counterparts.  On November 14, a user posted the test results for the M1-equipped MacBook Air running the x86 version of Geekbench. The machine had a single-core score of 1313 and a multi-core score of 5888. This equates to approximately 79% of the original scores for the same device, which were 1,687 single-core and 7,433 multi-core. However, the simulated scores are higher than any other single-core Intel Mac machine, including the 27-inch iMac 2020 with a Core i9 processor. As for the multi-core score, it is still well above the 3,067 notch with the 2020 MacBook Air Core i7.

Please note that performance varies from program to program. When The Verge tested the x86 version of Adobe Creative Cloud on its MacBook Pro review unit, the publication encountered a bug that consistently cut export data performance in half. The post said export times were stable even when running multiple 4K exports in a row, indicating solid performance, but a good reminder that the simulation is still buggy even if the benchmark results look solid.

Again, this is where we look to see how the M1 fares against the latest Intel and AMD chipsets. Since the M1 won’t perform at its best here, other chipmakers may more easily make up for the current performance gap in upcoming mobile chip releases.

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Apple M1 Graphics Performance 

As Apple M1-equipped devices begin to reach the public, preliminary test results are starting to appear in GFXBench. Although the 128 CU and 2.6 teraflops chip is an 8-core and clearly won’t compete with new giants like the RTX 3000 series or even older and higher discrete GPUs like the GTX 1080, it surpasses old standards like the Radeon. RX 560 and GTX 1050 Ti.

For example, in high-end GFXBench benchmarks like the 1440p Manhattan 3.1.1, the Apple M1 reached 130.9 fps, while the 1050 Ti only reached 127.4 fps and the Radeon RX 560 was limited to 101, 4 fps. Meanwhile, in the more intense Aztec Ruins High Tier test, the M1 reached 77.4 fps while the GTX 1050 Ti peaked at 61.4 fps. The Radeon RX 560 did better in this test, clocking at 82.5 frames per second, but overall it had lower frame rates in most tests.

Meanwhile, Ars Technica found that the M1 scored 11,476 in the 3DMark Slingshot Extreme Unlimited GPU test, while the 2020 iPad Pro had a score of 9978 and the iPhone 12 Pro a score of 6,226.

While it’s hard to try to judge overall chip performance by some online and mobile benchmarks, these tests are our best official benchmark scores at the moment. However, the reviews also make strong narrative claims. Engadget said The Pathless runs at 60fps in the MacBook Air review, and so does Fortnite at 1400 x 900.

 Apple M1 Battery Life 

Although it has more processing power overall, the M1 chip comes with 4 low power cores that help it save battery life. Apple says this gives M1-equipped devices the “best battery life on a Mac,” which I tested by surfing the web wirelessly with brightness set to “8 clicks from the bottom” and playing FHD videos. The same brightness setting. These tests aren’t exhaustive, but reviews generally tend to place Mac M1s around or above their current Intel counterparts.

Per Engadget’s battery benchmark, which “includes high definition video playback,” the MacBook Air M1 can still run for up to 16 hours 20 minutes, which is about 5 hours more than the most recent publication numbers. Intel MacBook Air. This is also about 7 hours longer than what we got on our own benchmark for the latest Intel MacBook Air.

The Verge found the numbers on the MacBook Pro M1 to be a little less impressive, something to be expected with more power. The post claimed “easy 10-hour charge” and said it had to resort to playing 4K YouTube videos in Chrome in the background to shrink them to 8 hours.

Verge is less optimistic about the MacBook Air, however, saying it gets “between 8-10 hours of real work in progress.”

macOS Big Sur, iPhone and iPad Apps 

One of the coolest new features of the M1 chip is that it uses the same processor architecture as the iPhone and iPad, and you can now run applications originally designed for those devices. However, reviewers are skeptical about the current implementation of this feature.

First of all, you will have to download these programs through the Mac app store with a filter, as developers still cannot distribute iOS apps directly, even on traditional systems. Second, you will find that many of your favorites will not be available, such as Gmail, Slack and Instagram. This is because developers can choose not to make their applications available on Mac, which many seem to be choosing. Third, applications that require touch input direct you to a series of unintuitive “touch alternatives,” such as pressing an area to click the center of the window or using the arrow keys to scroll.

Verge has described using iOS apps on Mac as a “weird and messy experience,” in part because the apps available are “from developers who haven’t been updated to keep up with newer devices.” While Overcast, a podcast app, worked great for The Verge, HBO Max got stuck in a small window that couldn’t be resized and couldn’t play video in full screen.

Playing iOS games has also proven to be a chore for some critics, TechCrunch noted. The post tested our version of iOS on the MacBook Air M1 and found that while it worked flawlessly, using the trackpad to simulate a touchscreen was a chore. There is also an option to run a virtual touchscreen with a mouse, but since the reviewer also works through a fixed-size window without full-screen functionality, it’s clear that gaming on the M1 still has a way to go.

The elephant in the room here through all experiences seems to be the lack of a touch screen. We expected Apple to announce its Mac with touchscreens at the “One More Thing” event earlier this month. But with no news on that yet, it’s hard for the iOS apps on the M1 to feel like anything more than an afterthought. There is also a lack of support from major developers, who might be hoping that these glitches, such as the lack of support for touchscreens, will work on their own.

Running Windows

On November 20, Ars Technica published an interview with Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, in which he said that running Windows locally on the M1-based Mac would be “left to Microsoft.”

“We have the essential technologies to do this, to enable the ARM version of Windows,” Federghi clarified. “This thusly is, obviously, viable with x86 client mode applications. Yet, this is a choice that Microsoft needs to make, to permit this innovation for clients to deal with these Macs. Yet, Macs certainly are. fit for that. “

Currently, Intel-based Macs allow you to partition your hard drive or SSD into separate partitions on different operating systems with Boot Camp. You will have to download the Windows ISO and install the drivers to allow Windows to read your Mac, so other than section, it is not the most convenient solution. However, it is useful for developers to test software for compatibility or even access tools that are not available on Mac.

We’ll have to see how Microsoft chooses to deal with this, but it could be another solution for running x86 software on M1 machines if Rosetta 2’s performance ends up being poor.

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