The official unveiling of M1 SoC will make the end of Intel CPUs inside Macs and MacBooks. The Apple M1 SoC is an octa-core design with 5nm manufacturing process and unified memory architecture. Just like the 5nm A14 Bionic, the M1 should also deliver exceptional performance and power efficiency. The slim MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch should be the first device with the SoC.
With 5nm manufacturing process, the M1 has 16 billion transistors, compared to the A14 with 11.8 billion transistors. This could mean that the M1 is more powerful and has more features. Other than the CPU module, there are also an integrated GPU and Neural Engine. Apple claims that compared to previous generation Mac, the M1 offers 3.5 times better CPU performance, 6 times better GPU performance, 15 times better machine learning and 2 times longer battery life.
The primary module is an octa-core CPU that’s powerful and highly efficient. There are four high-speed cores and four other high-efficiency cores. Compared to the current generation MacBook Air with dual-core Intel Core i3 processor, the four efficient cores already deliver similar performance. To preserve battery life, these efficient cores are useful for running light tasks, like browsing the web, checking email and watching movies. For graphics processing, video editing and gaming all eight cores will work together to achieve an ideal performance to Watt ratio.
The M1 has a reasonably capable integrated GPU that can support both challenging workloads and everyday apps. The octa-core GPU could handle 25,000 simultaneous threads and demanding tasks, like complex 3D rendering and streaming multiple 4K videos. With 2.6 TFlops throughput, it’s equal to the desktop version of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 on paper. It will take more comprehensive benchmark to measure the graphical performance of M1 SoC.
A dedicated Neural Engine module should accelerate machine learning greatly. The 16-core Neural Engine seems to be identical to the same module found in A14 Bionic, capable of executing 11 trillion operations each second. Developers can use the Neural Engine to get better results in image processing, voice recognition and video analysis.
The M1 SoC also has other features. The ISP (image signal processor) could produce videos with improved white balance, greater dynamic range and better noise reduction. The Secure Enclave version ensures excellent security protection. The AES encryption hardware ensures more secure and faster handling of critical data. There are also encoding and decoding engines for media that ensure extended battery life and high efficiency. The Thunderbolt controller offers compatibility with many peripherals, support for 40Gbps data transfer and USB 4.
Future M1-powered Macs and MacBook will arrive with macOS 11.0 Big Sur operating system. The new macOS version includes complete optimization for the new SoC, ensuring stronger security protections, astonishing battery life and a real boost in performance. New Macs and MacBooks will wake up instantly from sleep. Today, Safari is already a very responsive web browser and it will be even faster with M1 SoC. The Big Sur and M1 can handle more types of apps. Current macOS software will run natively, but there will also be support for iOS and iPadOS apps. This will improve the overall functionality and versatility of new Macs and MacBooks. We could expect the release of MacMini, MacBook Pro 13-inch and MacBook Air with the new M1 SoC. The transition to complete M1 implementation should take around a couple of years to complete. Apple tested a prototype of MacBook Pro 13-inch in October 2020 with M1 SoC and 16GB of RAM. We could expect that these Macs and MacBooks will use NVMe for exceptional start-ups and file transfers.