Mac’s new M1 chip is finally here!
What does this mean?
Incredible performance, excellent power efficiency, and fast! As quoted from Apple – “Serious performance. Ridiculous battery life.”
Recently, Apple has replaced its use of intel processor for its newly home-made chip called the Apple M1, which took its laptop computing into a whole new level.
Things you will be able to experience from these chips are lightning-quick app launches, quick video transcodes, and the capability for 29 hours of battery life.
What is an M1 chip?
Apple’s M1 is not a CPU but rather a whole system of multiple chips mashed together into a silicon package, and CPU is one of them. Other components include GPU, RAM, input and output controller, and more. It’s a whole computing system on just a single chip. This is called a System on a Chip or SoC for short. Traditionally you would have multiple physical components attached to a motherboard, now everything is on a little chip.
Is your mind blown? Yes, mine too!
Why the M1 Chip is so fast
When Apple was designing these M1 chips, instead of having to add more general-purpose CPU cores, they used more specialised chips to perform a few selected specialised functions. The benefit of this is that specialised chips have a tendency to perform their tasks significantly faster using much less electric current than a general-purpose CPU core.
However, this approach is not new, as Nvidia and AMD have already been making specialised chips such as the graphical processing units (GPUs) on their graphics cards performing operations related to graphics much faster than the general-purpose CPUs.
Here is a list of specialised components on Apple’s M1 chip:
- The central processing unit (CPU): Performs the majority of the code of the operating system and your applications.
- The graphics processing unit (GPU): Manages graphical-related tasks, such as visualising an application’s user interface as well as high graphic demanding 2D/3D games.
- An image processing unit (ISP): Used for speeding up everyday tasks performed by image processing applications.
- Digital signal processor (DSP): Deal with more mathematically demanding functions than a CPU. This includes decompressing video files.
- The neural processing unit (NPU): Utilised in top performance smartphones to accelerate machine learning tasks. This includes voice recognition and camera processing.
- Video encoder/decoder: Handles the power-efficient conversion of video files and formats.
- Secure Enclave: encryption, authentication, and security.
- Unified memory: This component allows the CPU, GPU, and other cores to exchange information rapidly.
As seen on the list above, many of these specialised components are image related. Hence part of the reason more people working with photo and video editing with the M1 Macs are seeing the significant speed improvements. Many of these image and video editing tasks can run directly on these specialised components.
We are as excited about Apple’s significant milestones as much as you are. Apple’s M1 chip is a considerable level up compared to its many generations of Intel CPUs that have powered Apple computers since 2006. Hence the main reason the M1 Mac Mini can encode a large video file without breaking a sweat while an expensive iMac has all its fans going full blast and still cannot keep up.
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