Everything looks the same from the outside, but the new Macbook could revolutionize the PC market. Apple has turned away from Intel processors – and made itself independent with its own chip.
Apple is bringing its Mac computers into a new era: The iPhone company has presented the first three models with chips from its own development instead of Intel processors. Apple promises that the computers will work much faster and more energy-efficient as a result. The switch will also allow the group to operate its Macs on the same software platform as its iPhones and iPads for the first time.
The in-house chip with the designation M1 combines a main processor with eight cores and the graphics chip in one system. Apps would start much faster than before and even demanding programs would run smoother, software boss Craig Federighi points out. As with the iPhone, a special area should improve image processing with, for example, machine learning.
Macbook Air without fan
With the M1 chip, Apple provided the most popular Mac model, the Macbook Air, which now works without a fan. Thanks to the more energy-efficient chip, the battery can withstand 15 hours of web surfing and 18 hours of video playback. The MacBook Air is the most popular Apple computer.
Also get the more powerful Macbook Pro with a 13-inch display and the Mac Mini desktop calculator, the new Apple processor. Apple speaks of 17 hours of surfing time and 20 hours of video playback with the Macbook Pro. With the Mac Mini and the Macbook Pro, Apple is initially also offering models with Intel chips – the Macbook Air, on the other hand, is only available from the group with the M1. Externally, the devices look the same as before.
MacBook Air (l-r), MacBook Pro and Mac mini: the group is turning away from Intel processors. (Source: Apple / PA Media / dpa)
In the future just like with iPhone and iPad
With the switch, Apple is breaking the worn-out track of the PC industry, which was previously dominated by Intel processors. The M1 chips are based on the architecture of chip designer ARM, which also runs iPhones and iPads. It also allows the developers to bring iPhone apps to the Macs. Mac programs that were originally tuned for Intel processors and have not yet been adapted for the Apple chips must now be “translated” in real time. There are no performance limitations, Apple emphasizes.
The switch had been announced for a while. On the iPhone and iPad, Apple was able to package a lot of power in a small format through in-house chip development. With the Mac, however, the company repeatedly had to wait for new processors from Intel. When the switch was announced in June, it was said to cover all models within two years.
For Macs, this is the third change in the chip platform after the transition from Motorola to IBM’s PowerPC in the early 1990s and to Intel in 2005.
The question now is whether Apple’s example could set industry precedent if the M1 Macs can give their users a noticeable advantage over other manufacturers’ computers with Intel chips. Microsoft and Samsung, among others, already offer laptops with chips based on the ARM architecture, but have so far remained more of a niche model.