Apple has unveiled the first Mac computers to receive the firm’s much-anticipated own-design computer chips “Apple Silicon”, claiming the change will have a “profound impact”.
New versions of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini were announced as the first to include the Apple M1 chip, as the company begins to transition away from Intel processors.
During a virtual event to announce the new line-up, Apple boss Tim Cook said the change was a “huge leap forward” for the Mac and that the M1 was “by far the most powerful chip we have ever created”.
“We promised that the first Mac with Apple Silicon will arrive by the end of this year — well, that day is here,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the unveiling on Tuesday. “The M1 chip is by far the most powerful chip that we have ever created.”
On Tuesday, Apple unveiled that the new versions of the 13-inch MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the Mac Mini, will be the company’s first computers powered by the M1, a new Apple-designed system-on-a-chip. The new Macs also all will feature Big Sur, its latest operating system. The company didn’t announce any updates to its iMac line of desktop computers.
According to the company, the new MacBook Pro will be priced starting at $1,299, or $1,199 for educational buyers. The M1-based Air will be priced starting at $999, or $899 for educational buyers, unchanged from the current version. The new Mini, which as usual ships without a screen or keyboard, will be priced at $699, $100 lower than the previous generation of the device.
The company has long designed chips for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. But Apple (ticker: AAPL) had been relying on Intel (INTC) processors to run Macs for well over a decade. However, this newly designed M1 chip includes an 8-core microprocessor, an 8-core graphic processor, and security and DRAM functions. Hence, the M1 chip should improve the performance and speed of Macs up to 3.5 times faster previous CPU, up to 6 times faster previous GPU, and up to 15 times faster machine learning capabilities.
In addition, this chip also promises to nearly doubling battery life, because, it is produced on cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology.
At the fourth major virtual product event of Apple in the Covid-19 era, the company revealed plans to build Macs using its own chips—based on Arm Holdings processor designs during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but at the time provided few details. The company launched an updated Apple Watch in a September event and last month unveiled the iPhone 12 lineup.
While Tuesday’s event may seem a bit overshadowed by Apple’s big 5G iPhone announcement last month, some analysts have noted that it’s a big step forward for Apple to have more control over its own hardware.
Dan Ives, a tech analyst and the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, noted in a memo Tuesday that Apple’s Silicon chips “has been a vision 15 years in making” and will usher in “a new era for Apple on the Mac frontier.”
The Mac announcement follows the company’s best-ever quarter for Mac sales. In the fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 30, Mac sales were $9 billion, up 29%. Apple shares were up fractionally, at $116.35, in recent trading. The S&P 500 was down 0.3%.