The first M1 chip for “entry-level” macs was, despite its formidable performance, the least powerful in the lineup of Macs. Bloomberg reveals that Apple is currently testing variants with 32 Performance cores and up to 128 GPU cores for macs that will be released in 2021 and 2022 – the year that will be the high point of the transition to Apple Silicon.
The impressive performance of the early MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13 ″ and Mac Mini M1 is obviously just the beginning. Apple has indeed started its transition from Intel to its own silicon by its most “entry-level” models. It now remains for the firm to tackle more powerful Mac mini, MacBook Pro and iMac configurations. Before in a third step to unveil an update of its most high-end iMac Pro and Mac Pro.
The culture of secrecy at Apple had so far not allowed to have other information on the more muscular variants of the M1 chip. Yet Bloomberg has just unveiled a shower of information and rumors on the successors of this first Apple Silicon chip. The business daily quotes a source close to the industry (on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons) who says that the performance of these chips will strengthen the gap with the latest Intel configurations.
Apple Silicon is on course to embarrass Intel
Apple is due to unveil at a new keynote in spring another salvo of pimps. Before the most powerful configurations in the fall. According to Bloomberg, not only upcoming M1 chip variants exceed current industry expectations, but as a bonus, Apple is on schedule to complete its transition as promised by 2022. The current M1 chip, whose performance is impressive, contains “only” 4 performance cores which accelerate the heaviest tasks, and four cores optimized for energy saving.
Bloomberg claims that for the next macs, Apple is working on a variant with 8 or even 16 performance cores and 4 energy-saving cores. It’s also possible that Apple may offer variants with only 8 or 12 active performance cores depending on production. Chip manufacturers are often forced to offer less powerful variants because of the efficiency, so as not to have to throw away the dies in which a limited number of cores are defective.
But what about the most powerful machines, especially the iMac Pro and Mac Pro? Bloomberg claims that Apple engineers are testing an SoC with up to 32 performance cores and 64 or 128 cores dedicated to graphics tasks. According to the source, this would multiply the available graphics power by several times compared to the AMD GPUs that Apple currently offers in its most powerful Intel macs.
Apple Silicon: configurations with up to 32 performance cores and 128 graphics cores
For now, Apple only offers up to 8 cores in its MacBook Pro with Intel CPU. For higher-end models like the iMac Pro, Apple offers up to 16 cores. And it can go up to 28 cores on the most top-of-the-range iMac Pro – even if it should be noted from the outset that the upgrade still costs a trifle of 8,050 euros … In addition, the source reveals astonishing info: the size of the Mac Pro would be halved. Apple has however gotten into the habit of not changing its design so quickly.
The Mac Pro “cheese grater v2” has only been available since 2019. Even the previous model, whose compact “bin-shaped” design was rather hated by professional customers because of its lack of scalability. has been stored for almost 6 years. But obviously Intel’s transition to Apple Silicon is such an event that it would no doubt warrant a change. Although we hope that Apple has learned the lessons of its Mac “trashcan” and will offer enough space to add graphics cards and other peripherals.
Remains nevertheless many unanswered questions. If they are indeed very impressive in terms of performance, the first Macs M1 still suffer from several defects that will not be suitable for power users. The number of ports (two Thunderbolt 4 on the current lineup except the Mac Mini which has two additional USB A ports) is too limited. None of the new M1 Macs also add RAM due to the new design (otherwise great for performance) of “Unified memory”.
Apple Silicon is on course to cause an earthquake that could hit the PC market
And newer Macs don’t currently support external GPUs, which could turn out to be a non-issue in the long run if Apple manages to impress professionals with unprecedented graphics performance. Still, Apple’s success is being scrutinized by the rest of the industry, including PC manufacturers. Some manufacturers have tried the ARM experiment with Always Connected PCs and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx and later chips.
However, the performance of these systems under Windows 10 remains far below what Apple offers with its first M1 macs, which are also on ARM – and all of whose applications have not yet been optimized. The fact is that Intel, even if it disappoints today with its prices, its delays in the smoothness of engraving and its energy performances, remained for a long time the standard meter of the industry. And this, even if the PC market has tended to stagnate in recent years.
AMD’s return to center stage has already started to damage Intel’s reputation. An insolent success of Apple would undoubtedly lead competing manufacturers to try to imitate the firm with designs of ARM chips more suited to their needs. Pushing Intel even further on the sidelines.