By Emily Bary
Apple is putting its own processor in the Mac, which analyst says is 'huge step forward' toward merging hardware and software
Apple Inc. is taking greater control of its Mac lineup with its first computers featuring custom personal-computer semiconductors made by the tech giant instead of a traditional chip maker like Intel Corp.
The company Tuesday announced new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini PC models, all of which use Apple's (AAPL) M1 Silicon chip. Apple claimed that the custom chip will give the computers performance and efficiency boosts while also enabling greater interaction with apps for other Apple devices.
Apple previously teased its plans to move the Mac family over to custom processors (), which the company already uses for its iPhones ( ), iPads, and Apple Watches, but its Tuesday virtual event featured new details abbot the M1 custom chip as well as the announcement of three models that will initially run the processor. Apple's existing Macs use processors from Intel. (INTC)
Apple shares rose 0.3% in Tuesday afternoon trading, while Intel's stock fell 0.6%.
The new 13-inch MacBook Air has a central processing unit that's more than 3.5 times faster than the prior-generation model, Apple executives said in Tuesday's event. The computer also has up to 5 times quicker graphics and up to 9 times faster machine learning. Apple is doing away with the fan in the MacBook Air, which it said would contribute to silent performance.
The M1 chip enables up to two times faster solid-state-drive performance, which Apple said will allow people to preview large images or import big files more quickly. The chip also enables better power efficiency, according to Apple, meaning that the MacBook Air offers up to 15 hour of battery life with wireless web browsing and up 18 hours of video playback.
That marks the "longest battery life ever on a MacBook Air," Apple said in its release. The new MacBook Air begins at $999.
Opinion: As Apple releases its new line of Macs, the biggest beneficiary may be Microsoft ()
Apple said its new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a CPU that's up to 2.8x faster than the prior-generation model and a graphics-processing unit that's up to 5 times faster. Machine-learning tasks are up to 11 times faster. The computer offers up to 17 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 20 hours of video playback, which Apple called its longest battery life yet for the Mac family.
Apple is keeping its $1,299 starting price for the MacBook Pro.
The company is also putting the M1 chip in its Mac mini, while reducing the price of that computer to $699 from $799. Apple said that the Mac mini has a CPU that delivers a performance boost of up to 3 times, as well as a GPU that contributes to an up to 6-times increase in graphic performance. Machine-learning workloads happen up to 15 times faster, according to the company.
All three new computers will be available to order today and will "begin arriving to customers" next week, according to a release.
Apple said that its M1 chip is built with 5-nanometer process technology and has 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever had in a chip. The M1 has an 8-core GPU with four high-performance core and four high-efficiency cores. The M1's GPU has up to eight cores that can run almost 25,000 threads simultaneously.
Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives called the Silicon announcements a "huge step forward" for Apple that will help facilitate a grater merging of hardware and software in the coming years.
But not all were impressed by Apple's plans. "I find it telling that the company didn't replace its highest-end systems which include Intel CPUs and AMD (AMD) graphics," wrote Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "This could be a positioning challenge as its newest lineup could be looked at as underpowered."
Apple shares have gained 58% so far this year as the Dow Jones Industrial Average , which counts Apple as a component, has risen about 3%.
-Emily Bary; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 10, 2020 15:01 ET (20:01 GMT)
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