Exploring the Apple M1 Chip

The Apple M1 chip, containing an 8-core CPU that boasts four cores for performance and four for efficiency, is an ARM-based system-on-a-chip (SoC) that was officially launched in 2020 via the MacBook Air, the Mac mini and the MacBook Pro.

In other words, it’s the first custom chipset design that was made exclusively for use by Mac laptops.

Introducing the M1

As expected, the Apple M1 chip adds a lot of speed, performance and power to the most recent line of Mac laptops. The new systems are so powerful, in fact, that they vastly outperform those seen in the Intel MacBook family.

When it comes to using the system in a strictly professional setting – for sound design, video production or something similar – many experts will still prefer Intel’s line of MacBooks. For general, day-to-day usage, however, other products just can’t compare with the M1.

This is due, in large part, to the technical specifications. While the current line of M1 laptops only support a maximum of 16GB RAM, the Intel family accommodates up to 32. It also supports twice the hard drive capacity with a maximum of 4TB compared to the M1’s 2TB.

Storage capacity isn’t generally a huge deal, given the affordability of external hard drives, thumb drives and even cloud storage, but it does limit the amount of data you can store on your internal drive. Your capacity might be limited even further depending on your local backup and recovery strategy.

However, the battery life of the M1 is far superior to its predecessor. With an expected battery life of 20 hours, compared to 10 hours with the Intel-based laptops, there really is no comparison.

Examining the SOC Design

Apple has another ace up their sleeve, too. Since the SoC design of the Apple M1 includes the CPU, GPU, input/output ports, RAM and internal security all one single chip, it’s quite a bit faster than the older, Intel-based laptops.

The addition of four additional cores – compared to the four included in earlier laptops – gives the system the ability to switch between its four high-efficiency cores or the high-performance cores as needed. When performing simple tasks, such as browsing websites, interacting with social media or viewing digital images, the system functions as efficiently as possible. If you need extra power when working on video or audio files, the system makes the necessary adjustments on-the-fly.

Looking To the Future

Regardless of their efficiency and power, however, the Apple M1 chips aren’t without their issues. Users have already reported a number of problems with their brand new laptops, including inaccessible apps on macOS, compatibility issues with iTunes, problems with Bluetooth connectivity and more. While it seems like the development team at Apple is already aware of these bugs, they have yet to be resolved for every user.

Developers with Apple are already working on the next generation of chips, too. According to earliest reports, they’re already testing a 32-core processor that could be released in a matter of months. Although details remain sparse, the chip is expected to be used in future Mac desktop computers.