As more and more of our daily activities move online, the need for faster internet and faster devices has become insatiable. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become our workstations, and entertainment destinations. We are constantly multitasking on our devices, be it emailing, checking social media, or playing at the best online casino in India.
All this multitasking and heavy usage require an efficient chipset that can power through these tasks. Apple released its first-ever SoC chipset for Macs, the M1, in November 2020, and within a couple of months, it has garnered rave reviews from the tech gurus as well as users at large.
Moving ahead on its philosophy of becoming self-sufficient, and manufacturing all its components in-house, Apple had announced that it will be manufacturing its own dedicated chip for Mac devices, which were being powered by Intel chips till now. While pundits were skeptical about the ARM-based processors (both Qualcomm and Microsoft had met with failures), Apple moved ahead and successfully manufactured the world’s first 5nm chip for use in personal computers.
Unlike the x86 architecture, the M1 uses ARM architecture, which is similar to the A-series chips used in the iPhones.
The M1 chip integrates various components like the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, RAM, Thunderbolt connector, etc. into a single chip, rather than the previous design that required multiple chips. This integration helps in eliminating the latency period, as all these technologies can instantly access data from a single `pool´.
The chip has 16 billion transistors, which is the most in any chip, and provides more CPU per watt, resulting in greater power efficiency.
Speed and efficiency
Compared to the previous chip that Apple used, M1 provides a huge bump up in terms of speed. The CPU performance increases 3.5x, while the GPU performance increases 6.5 times. Also, machine learning is 15 times faster, as the Neural Engine is capable of carrying out 11 trillion operations per second! The fastest device running on M1, the Mac Mini, got a Geekbench score of 1705 for single-core, and a 7380 score for multicores.
And all this power comes at a fraction of battery usage compared to the previous generation Intel chips. The M1 powered Mac devices are the most power-efficient ever, with almost double the battery life when compared to their predecessors. The 13-inch Macbook Pro has a video playback time of close to 20 hours at 4k resolution.
Apple has launched Rosetta 2, the second generation of its binary translator, which will aid in the smooth functioning of apps that were originally designed to run on Intel’s x86 architecture. Rosetta2, in addition to providing Just in Time translation, also provides ahead of time code translation, which greatly increases the speed of these apps, in some cases, even faster than on the native processor.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this UMA or Unified Memory Architecture is multitasking. There is literally nothing that the new chip cannot handle. Although you will not be able to upgrade the 16 GB RAM, you will never feel the need to do so, thanks to the blazing-fast multitasking capability of the M1 chip.
With its first shot at making a dedicated chip for PCs, Apple has hit the ball out of the park and has bulldozed over the competition. Developers like Qualcomm and Microsoft are still working on their ARM-based chipsets for PCs, and Apple has clearly gained a huge advantage. And to think of, that if a first-generation chip has such capabilities, the competition is only going to get tougher with the launch of future generations.